Yesterday started off with us going to a larger nursery that was started by the Republic of Iran with a partnership with The Gambia. Here they have almost every type of fruit tree that is possible to grow here from mango and citrus to jackfruit and pomegranate.
Islamic Republic of Iran Office in
The Gambia for Agriculture and
Rural Development Nursery
Then it was off to an NGO that is operated a couple from the UK. They are both beekeepers that have kept bees in the UK and Europe. There is also a third year Peace Corps volunteer and a local beekeeper that works there. Their goal is to educate Gambians on the best practices of bee keeping and be a resource for information about bee keeping in the Gambia. They do this by offering training to local beekeepers and Gambians that are interested in becoming a beekeeper.
Our day started off with a tour of the area looking at different types of hives both traditional grass hives made locally and more modern hives. All together they have about 70 hives on their property.
Local hive made out of palm tree and grass
We then learned how to render wax, which was then used as bait in small catcher boxes.
Seth baiting top bars with wax
The small catcher boxes are placed in the bush or forest and are used to hopefully attract a hive. You then would take that hive and transfer it into a larger more permanent hive. The hives that are mostly used in The Gambia are called “Kenya Top Bar Hives.”
We then had some free time to relax before we started to put on our suits and prepare to open hives.
Seth and Abby "relaxing"
The suits are locally made, many of them had holes where they had torn or were sewn poorly and had to be patched up. I was lucky and had a suit that had no holes or if it did nor I or the bees found them. We took a few pictures to document our experience, the suits are incredibly hot.
Me, Seth, Josh and Ben
We then split up into groups and went to the hives to open them. My group was led by another volunteer that has been here a couple years already and had done a lot of beekeeping in his village along with the environmental sector program assistant which is a long time beekeeper. In total there were about 8 of us in the group. The first hive we opened was a well established hive but we decided not to take any honey but to leave it so the hive could grow stronger and larger quicker.
I was a little nervous about doing all of this but I stayed calm and kept breathing. The noise of a hive is incredibly loud once you take the lid off and start inspecting it. There was a couple times when I had to take a few steps away from the hive and take a couple deep breaths collect myself and then get back in the action. I was surprised at how intimidating it can be. The second hive we went to was a newer colony and didn’t have really any honey that we could take so we inspected it and headed back.
comb with capped and uncapped honey
When we got back luckily some other groups had found hives that had honey available to harvest, so I got a taste of it and it was incredible.
Afterwards we were shown how to process the honey and I even got a taste.