First actions around our beekeeping project

Début 2018, Naturevolution a lancé un projet de development of beekeeping dans le Makay. Alors que, côté France, l’équipe continue à s’affairer pour compléter le budget du projet, l’équipe malgache a, quant à elle, lancé les premières actions concrètes, à savoir la mise en place de l’accompagnement technique sur le terrain, l’évaluation de la situation propre à chaque village, et l’identification et la formation des premiers apiculteurs.

Janvier – mission à Manakara

At the end of January, a first mission to Manakara, on the east coast of the island, aimed to establish a partnership with Les Ruches Australes as atechnical support to our project.

Southern Hives is a small company operating 300 hives spread over 5 apiaries around Manakara, a region of Madagascar known for the quality of its honey. This is also the implication of beekeepers Manakara which led to the lifting of the embargo of the European Union on Madagascar honey imports in 2009.

Avril – mission d’évaluation dans le Makay

Three months later, two trainers from Ruches Australes accompanied us in the field for a mission & rsquo; project evaluation in three villages in South Makay : Beroroha, Beronono et Tsivory.

The objectives of this mission were to:

  1. take stock of existing beekeeping, refine knowledge of the area's melliferous potential, as well as its schedule,
  2. présenter le projet aux autorités et à la population locale et évaluer leur intérêt pour le projet,
  3. affiner le projet et définir les perspectives.
Rucher des Ruches Australes à Manakara
The Apiary Hive Austral in Manakara, Madagascar. Soon similar hives in the Makay?

Etat des lieux de l’apiculture existante

To better understand local customs around the honey, the team first went to meet the different types of beekeepers:

  • traditional beekeepers firstly that usually have a single hive carved into a tree trunk next to their house. Their knowledge of bees being rudimentary, the pickings are slim, honey low quality and mainly self-consumed. It is not a full-fledged economic activity.
  • of apicueilleurs secondly, collecting honey from a wild swarm, resulting mostly destroyed.

À Beroroha, commune de 5000 habitants qui marque la fin de la piste accessible aux taxis-brousse, l’équipe a visité 13 apiculteurs traditionnels, dont certains actifs depuis plus de 15 ans, signe d’un vivier important pour de futurs apiculteurs formés aux techniques de l’élevage moderne, plus respectueux des abeilles et des produits de la ruche. Plusieurs d’entre eux, dont le directeur de l’école publique lui-même, possèdent plusieurs ruches et récoltent 3 fois par an (avril, juin, novembre) jusqu’à 10L par ruche et par miellée.

traditional beehive in Madagascar
traditional beehive in a tree hollowed trunk.

In small villages closest to the Makay, with around a hundred boxes like Beronono and Tsivoko, the situation is very different. Although rare hives are present, traditional beekeeping is very limited. Usually more widespread, beekeeping, practiced by villagers ignorant of the social organization of bees and carrying out destructive sampling, is hardly a memory.

The wild swarms have indeed almost completely disappeared. surrounding forests (which are also very degraded), which confirms that beekeeping is not a sustainable activity. The villagers also expressed their regret at not having any more honey.

The apiary La Ruche Southern Manakara.
The Apiary Hive Southern Manakara on the east coast of Madagascar.

Honey species and harvest schedule

Grâce à la présence de nombreux apiculteurs traditionnels, nous avons pu établir une liste des espèces mellifères, ainsi qu’un calendrier des floraisons et des récoltes associées :

We still lack some information on other honey plants for which we do not yet have the common names.

The harvest schedule, Meanwhile, is:

  • Les récoltes ont lieu en avril, en octobre et en décembre*.
  • The months of drought (little or no flowering) are in June / July and January / February.
  • The essaimage drummer, he, au mois de septembre.

(*) Mise à jour 2020 : il est intéressant de noter que, contrairement à ces prévisions, la récolte de 2019 dans le Sud Makay a eu lieu au mois de juin, et celle de 2020 dans le Nord Makay au mois de mai.

Beekeeping training in Beroroha village
Beekeeping training in Beroroha village

Presentation of the project and first trainings

In each city held a public meeting to present the project and train interested villagers. They met between 15 and 25 people, including a number of women. Generalities about beekeeping and bee products have been presented before addressing the fundamentals of beekeeping, the installation of a beehive, the threats to bees, and the timing of flowering and crops.

Welcoming the project was favorable, with some particularly motivated.
At Tsivoko where the gathering was held under a tamarind tree next to the elementary school, many people have expressed interest, opening the possibility of installing twenty hives within 10 families.
At Beroroha where a traditional beekeepers pool is already present, we are considering the installation of a dozen hives by relying on the most active local beekeepers.
Finally, at Beronono, we expect a dozen hives also spread over 5 hamlets forming the village.

Presentation of the beekeeping project in the village of Tsivoko.
Presentation of the beekeeping project in the village of Tsivoko.

In the heart of the largest forest of Makay

Enfin, dans la forêt de Menapanda, la plus grande du Makay, à 3h de marche de Tsivoko, melliferous vegetation is much richer and in better condition. A swarm found in a tree trunk was transferred to a beehive left behind for observation. We are planning to install a few beehives there, which will be managed by the Menapanda ranger, with the aim of l & rsquo; observing the behavior of bees far & rsquo; a village and multiplying swarms.

Transfer of the swarm to the hive - Menapanda forest.
Transfer of the swarm to the hive - Menapanda forest.

Adaptation of the project and outlook

The disappearance or rarefaction of beekeeping, reflecting the depopulation of wild swarms in the forests near the villages, leads us to believe that 1) the launch of the beekeeping project is on time, and 2) that it is necessary to associate with the development of the 'beekeeping des campagnes de reforestation d’essences mellifères aux abords des villages.

Sans cela, l’état actuel de la végétation, par exemple à Beronono, ne supportera qu’un nombre restreint de ruches, et ne permettra pas l’augmentation du nombre d’apiculteurs. Cela est cohérent avec nos attentes, puisque l’équipe de Naturevolution avait déjà envisagé d’associer au développement de l’apiculture des actions ciblées de reforestation, laquelle fait partie intégrante de notre stratégie de conservation.

Cela permettra notamment d’utiliser l’apiculture non seulement comme activité économique, mais aussi comme moyen de restauration des milieux dégradés et de sensibilisation à la protection de l’environnement.

Accompagnez-nous sur ce beau projet and support
our campaign crowdfunding with a donation.

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The beekeeping project is supported by the Agency for Micro-Projects The Guild

Partners : ce projet a reçu le soutien de l’Micro Projects Agency, une initiative de solidarité internationale de La Guilde financée par l’AFD. Il est également rendu possible grâce à l’engagement de la Unusual foundation Builders - Philippe Romero, Corporate concierge company well be the map, et des nombreux donateurs individuels qui l’ont soutenu sur notre The crowdfunding campaign.

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