Beekeeping in Madagascar

Naturevolution launched in 2018 a pilot project for development of beekeeping in villages located on the perimeter of massif du Makay in Madagascar.

This project has the support of theMicro Projects Agency and other partners, for which we are seeking additional funding, has two main objectives: first, to form the first beekeepers and artisans, and first sales network; secondly, gather the information needed to launch a project of greater magnitude. To better understand this whole project, we offer here an opening on the beekeeping world Malagasy.

Presentation of the beekeeping project in the village of Tsivoko.

Presentation of the beekeeping project in the village of Tsivoko.

The bee of Madagascar

Madagascar is well known for its exceptional endemismWith a rate exceeding 80% for insects and even close to 100% for some groups. The bee of Madagascar is no exception to this rule with theApis mellifera where. unicolor, Endemic subspecies of the 28 sub-species ofApis mellifera known in the world.

It is characterized by a dark uniform color and has a small hair all over the body (Ruttner, 1975). The workers of this variety Bee are among the smallest of its kind while on the contrary the male has relatively large (Ruttner 1987). It participates not only in the pollination of a large part of the local flora endemic to Madagascar but also major food crops or export such as lychee.

According to a study INRA and CNRS, 35% of global food production is directly dependent on pollinators. The value of insect pollination service was estimated at 153 billion eurosOr 9.5% of the value of world agricultural production.

Bee endemic to Madagascar (Apis mellifera var. unicolor). (c) A.Frank CIRAD

History of beekeeping in Madagascar

  • 1920-1940 - beekeeping is the third source of income Madagascar with 38 thousand tonnesOf which over 65% are exported annually to Europe
  • 1951 – honey embargo by Europe for non-compliance with European standards following the addition of sugar and water to these products.
  • 1996 – embargo animal products from Madagascar by Europe, Due to hygiene standards.
  • 2011 - EU places end the embargo the Malagasy honey
  • 2012-2014 - 17 tonnes are exported
  • 2014-2015 – 54 tonnes exported

To return the issue of the quality of honey, It is measured for its water content and the desired percentage is less than 21%. The purity and good filtration of the product are also sought. The difficulty in answering this quality standard in Madagascar lies above the low level of training beekeepers a high illiteracy rate and the necessary compliance with international standards for honey extraction conditions (Honey approved).

Malagasy beekeepers check their hives.

traditional and modern

Beekeeping in Madagascar practice at different levels:

  • beekeepers pickers (50%) collect wild swarms, rather numerous in forests. Unfortunately, this practice causes the total destruction of the swarm, and the tree where the hive is often shot.
  • Beekeepers swarms hunters (35%) will perform a traditional breeding from swarms collected forests. A hollow log serves hive. It attracts the settlement for it to produce honey. This practice is more respectful of the bee. However, due to the low development of the techniques used, it gets only low yields: between 4-7 kg of honey for a traditional hive, while they are between 10 to 20 kg a modern hive ( per year).
  • The integrated beekeepers (15%) working in partnership with the honey producers or cooperatives. Their production techniques are similar to those used by beekeepers 'modern', for example in France.

Forgeau Bernard, president of Naturevolution Madagascar, tests the apicueillette.

A traditional hive is installed in the village of Beroroha (South Makay).

modern hives in Madagascar

Hives used to Madagascar
In addition to traditional hives built from tree trunks, found in Madagascar mainly 2 types of modern hives, ruches Dadant and the ruches de Langstroth.

L’éternel débat entre apiculteurs porte sur la comparaison entre ruche « Langstroth » ou ruche « Dadant » et Madagascar n’échappe pas à cette règle, à laquelle il faut ajouter des modifications régionales (ruche « Bourbon »). Le corps de ruche de la première est plus petit donc plus maniable mais offre moins de nourriture à la colonie pour les périodes de disette. Les hausses de miellée sont plus grande pour la ruche « Langstroth » mais il est aisé de mettre deux ou trois hausses sur un corps de ruche « Dadant ».

A Madagascar, une ruche produit entre 10 et 60 kilos de miel per year from the force of the colony but also in terms of the quality of the honey environment and the weather. In the East, beekeepers perform four honeyed year (niaouli, polyfloral, macaranga, litchi).

The benefits of beekeeping in Madagascar

Beekeeping is very present in the Malagasy culture and widespread throughout the country. Honey there has a very good image and is traditionally used to replace sugar, therapy and cosmetology.

  • A huge untapped potential : The rich flora and climate characteristics give long periods of flowering of a great variety of species. They allow Apis mellifera var. unicolor produce throughout the year several crops honeys succulent with multiple flavors born of many pollinated species. It is possible to obtain up to four annual harvestsBut this is only possible if beekeepers have access to technical information as well as specialized equipment, the main obstacles to Madagascar.
  • Additional income for farmersEspecially during the lean season (Difficult time between harvests). This income can allow each household to access to education and to quality of careyears a healthier environment.
  • The development of beekeeping can contribute to environmental protection, As mentioned a study published by the CITE on beekeeping in Madagascar (2004). A decrease in voluntary bushfires is found in areas where beekeeping is practiced.

Training beekeepers to traditional methods to modern beekeeping.

Constraints to development of beekeeping

  • Deforestation : It destroys the variety and number of species of honey plants, it heavily impacts the decrease in wild bee populations.
  • The low purchasing power of rural populations ne permet pas d’investir dans l’achat et l’entretien de ruches modernes et encore moins dans le matériel apicole adapté (extracteur, contenants, cire gaufrée etc…). L’insécurité bloque les initiatives nouvelles et l’ouverture de nouveaux débouchés).
  • Le manque de savoir-faire dans certaines régions comme le Makay, d’où l’importance de l’apprentissage des techniques apicoles et du suivi de la mise en place du projet apiculture.
  • Mais le facteur limitant le plus important est sans doute l’absence d’un marché structuré pour écouler la production.
  • En 2009, le varroa, un parasite extrêmement nocif (surnommé le « vampire de l’abeille »), Has appeared in Madagascar. The Malagasy beekeepers benefit from the experience of their European counterparts and are now developing effective techniques to fight against parasitosis.

A / Varroa destructor electron microscope.
B / Two parasitic mites on bees.
C / mite Distribution Map Varroa destructor Madagascar in 2011-2012.February 05, 2017, the presence of the Varroa mite was detected in Manakara, beekeeping pilot area in Madagascar. (Black triangles = not infested websites; red triangles and blue stars = infested sites)

Bush fire in the massive Makay

The local market honey

The "good honey" from the modern beekeeping is purchased in bulk by wholesalers between 5000 and 8000 ariary per kilo (1.40 € and 2.20 €), it is distributed in the retail of around 8 10 € per kilo.

There is a strong demand in the domestic market for high quality honeyThat the current production can not satisfy. picking products are often of poor quality, dirty or added water, and are intended for undemanding consumers and low income. Moreover collectors, merchants and restaurateurs of the island are looking for quality honeys.

Beekeeping in the Makay

Dans le massif du Makay, forest honey is polyfloral. The outskirts of villages, it is dominated by fruit trees, mainly citrus. Good water quality and multitude of natural storage points facilitate the work of bees and improve the quality of honey.

Historically, hunter-gatherers in the region will take honey in tree cavities or rock. This technique is destructive because it jeopardizes the survival of the entire colony, depriving it of all its reserves and, sometimes, accidentally killing the queen.

The launch of a beekeeping project in the Makay region from the simple observation of thecultural significance and traditional honey, d’un savoir-faire empirique de cueilleurs d’essaims et de chasseurs de miel, du potentiel apicole du Makay, mais aussi de la réussite de l’exploitation de petits ruchers familiaux malgré des moyens archaïques et peu efficace. Le projet s’appuie également sur un échange culturel interrégional (Est/Ouest) avec les régions qui ont déjà su développer l’apiculture moderne, comme celle de Manakara.

Forêt du massif du Makay

Forêt du massif du Makay

The beekeeping in the service of conservation Makay

Objective 1: To improve family incomes
Les paysans riverains du massif du Makay sont toujours à la recherche de revenus alternatifs qui leur permettraient d’acheter des produits de première nécessité pour faire le lien vital et alimentaire lors de la période de soudure entre deux récoltes. Les conséquences actuelles de ce manque de revenus complémentaires sont le braconnage, notamment des lémuriens, et l’augmentation des feux de brousse pour l’élevage de zébus. Ce n’est également qu’avec des meilleures conditions de vie que les populations locales pourront accéder à l’éducation, à une meilleure santé et alimentation, et, finalement, à se préoccuper de leur environnement.

Ruches et récolte du riz à Madagascar

L’apiculture participe à fournir une nouvelle source de revenu, voir même une alternative pour des agriculteurs pratiquant la culture du riz et l’élevage de zébu.

Objective 2: The preservation of the environment.
The development of beekeeping in the Makay, as in other protected areas around the world, aims to educate local communities awareness of the need to preserve the forest, vegetation and streams. The different regional analyzes that have been conducted show that beekeeping is an economic activity that educates effectively to the preservation of natural resources since it depends directly.

Among current api-gatherers, for whom the sale of honey is therefore an income, the objective is to aim that the swarms are not destroyed or felled trees during harvest or even help them make the transition to modern beekeeping, recipient quickly transition their business. For all beekeepers, training focuses on the link between honey production, quality, and the health of the environment, Leading thus in turn become actors of environmental protection in the villages.

It is however necessary that beekeepers can access to a market of sufficient size to sell the products, that the isolation of the Makay has so far held back. The mastery of the inherent Naturevolution Madagascar complicated logistics Makay is the key factor that makes today the realization of such a project linking the villages of Makay and the rest of the country.

> Learn more about beekeeping pilot Naturevolution that develops in the first villages Makay.

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