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Beekeeping for Biodiversity and Income Generation

Beekeeping for Biodiversity and Income Generation

Aim

To use and promote commercial beekeeping as an example of how to develop a business model that combines economic development with protection of biodiversity hotspots.

Where

Guatemala

Why

Traditional agricultural activities like slash-and-burn agriculture often damage the natural environment, especially in vulnerable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots like nature reserves. Beekeeping, meanwhile, represents an eco-friendly and sustainable opportunity for low-income rural families to earn a better living while at the same time caring for the natural environment. Even in a heavily forested country like Guatemala, suitable areas for beekeeping activities are decreasing as the direct result of deforestation, monoculture, and the excessive use of pesticides that are extremely harmful to the environment. In some cases, this may lead to biodiversity loss, especially in hotspots like nature reserves.

How

APIS has established 14 beekeeping schools (apiaries with 20 beehives) where people can receive a beginner’s beekeeping course for free. The course covers the basics of beekeeping and involves different activities according to the beekeeping calendar of the region. To keep the learning process relevant and practical, the instructors alternate short theoretical lessons with hands-on practical exercises at the apiaries. Furthermore, in each community one person receives additional training so that he/she will become the local resource person for beekeepers in the area, once the project has finalized. APIS also supports existing beekeepers in each community with technical assistance and can help them sell their honey at preferential prices.

Results so far

In all areas APIS has managed to revive interest in beekeeping. The methodology (learning-by-doing) of alternating theoretical and practical lessons in the apiaries has been replicated by NGOs in other regions of the country. Fourteen beekeeping schools have been established, 273 people have received basic beekeeping training so far, and 20 people have been trained as beekeeping extensionists. Sixty-six local beekeepers receive regular technical assistance. The honey harvested each year from the beekeeping schools has been sold at preferential prices.

Period and budget

2015-2018, €443,000 contribution from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (donor) and Heifer International Guatemala.

Initiator

Hivos

Coalition partners

Copiasuro RL, Heifer International Guatemala, Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza