Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon

by OnePlanet
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Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Beekeeping with Indigenous People in the Amazon
Young Beekeepers
Young Beekeepers

Every time we go out to Maijuna lands to run a stingless beekeeping workshop it reminds us of all the different things that we love about this project. One of the best parts is how inclusive the project is. Stingless beekeeping is something that can be done by all segments of society (young and old, women and men) ultimately empowering all community members. The Maijuna beekeepers that we have been working with include little girls less than 10 years of age (pictured here) all the way up to older men and women in their 70s. That’s what makes this so much fun and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Another reason why we are so passionate about this project is that it is providing critically important sustainable income to Maijuna families, supporting their desire to conserve and sustainably use their ancestral lands and biocultural resources. On average, each Maijuna family earns less than $2/day and they have been searching for sustainable ways to earn a living. Without viable sustainable income generating activities such as stingless beekeeping, the allure of logging, overhunting, and other unsustainable activities may be too great for the Maijuna to ignore given the need to provide for their families. So, this project is providing the Maijuna with real and meaningful sustainable income that they can use to better the lives of their families.

We couldn’t be happier with our partnership with the Maijuna and how this project has unfolded. We continue to increase the number of Maijuna beekeepers involved in the project, touching more and more families along the way. Please help us to achieve the Maijuna’s vision for a more sustainable future by continuing to support our stingless beekeeping work with the Maijuna. Thanks so much for your continued support – your generosity has helped to make this exciting project possible!

Extracting Honey
Extracting Honey
Rainforest Sunset
Rainforest Sunset
Capped Heron in Maijuna Lands
Capped Heron in Maijuna Lands
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Learning from other stingless beekeepers
Learning from other stingless beekeepers

The past 3 months have been filled with all the normal project activity in Maijuna lands that we know and love: running community-level stingless beekeeping workshops, working on the family-level to increase the number of hives and improve hive management practices, recruiting new families into the project, and the list goes on. However, one thing that was quite out of the ordinary and even more exciting than normal was a 3-day trip that we organized for Maijuna beekeepers to the city of Iquitos, Peru to meet other stingless beekeepers and exchange experiences. Really, this was a trip to open their eyes and to think big.

It’s one thing to tell the Maijuna what this stingless beekeeping project can mean for their community and families and it’s another thing entirely to directly show them. On the way to Iquitos we stopped by the apiary of a well-established stingless beekeeper named Carlos M. who has over 50 hives, earning him more sustainable income from beekeeping than the Maijuna have ever imagined. For the 15 Maijuna beekeepers present, this was a chance for them to see with their own eyes what a well-managed and highly productive apiary looks like and to ask question after question of someone that started from scratch like they did.

The following day in Iquitos, there was a daylong meeting that pulled together stingless beekeepers from around the area to share experiences and lessons learned. The Maijuna gave a presentation about their community-based stingless beekeeping project as did others, ultimately opening a space for dialogue and exchange. This was followed by visits to 5 other apiaries of successful stingless beekeepers in the area that again allowed the Maijuna to learn directly from others. Opening hives, discussing management practices, learning by doing – there is no better way for the Maijuna stingless beekeepers to learn.

Heading back to Maijuna lands from Iquitos there truly was a palpable sense of excitement and buzz on the boat. With our goal of opening their eyes and getting them to think big about the future of the project achieved, we are more committed than ever to the long-term success of this project. Thanks so much for your continued support – your generosity has helped to make this exciting project possible!

Successful and highly productive apiary
Successful and highly productive apiary
Project presentations
Project presentations
Opening hives and learning by doing
Opening hives and learning by doing
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Sebastian -- Maijuna leader and beekeeper
Sebastian -- Maijuna leader and beekeeper

Sebastián, pictured here, is not only the president of the Maijuna indigenous federation but he is also now the proud patriarch of an extended family of stingless beekeepers. Sebastian’s direct family has 4 stingless beehives while his three adult sons and their families have a combined 11 hives. Before we started our project in Maijuna lands no one in Sebastian’s extended family was tending stingless bees so we couldn’t be more excited about their successes.

But, Sebastián is not content to just see his extended family succeed, he is also concerned about all the Maijuna. As the president of the Maijuna federation he envisions stingless beekeeping playing a central role in a more sustainable future for the Maijuna. The average Maijuna family survives on less than $2 per day and stingless bee honey can help to significantly boost their income and quality of life in an environmentally and socially responsible way. This ultimately means more sustainable income for school supplies, health care, and other important family expenses. This is real sustainable income, helping to improve the lives of real people.

Please help us achieve Sebastian’s vision for a more sustainable future for the Maijuna by continuing to support our stingless beekeeping work with the Maijuna. As we move into the holiday season, we can think of nothing better or more meaningful than to sponsor a hive of native stingless bees ($50) or a week-long beekeeping workshop ($1,000) in the name of a loved one. Any level of support helps and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support!

Kent -- Sebastian's son and beekeeper
Kent -- Sebastian's son and beekeeper
Jill -- Junior beekeeper
Jill -- Junior beekeeper
Stars in Maijuna lands
Stars in Maijuna lands
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Telmo -- Maijuna beekeeper
Telmo -- Maijuna beekeeper

I just recently returned from the Peruvian Amazon where I was not only working on OnePlanet’s projects in Maijuna lands but also teaching a field course for George Mason University students. The focus of the field course was on the conservation and sustainability of the Amazon and we spent several days learning about OnePlanet’s community-based conservation and sustainable development projects in Maijuna lands.

Hands down, the project that the students were most excited to see and learn about was the stingless beekeeping project. Witnessing the student’s reactions when the Maijuna first opened their stingless beehives was priceless; none of them had ever seen an Amazonian stingless bee beforehand let alone heard that they even existed. With their distinctive honey pots, the hives before them were so incredibly different than any that they had ever seen and by the time they tasted the unique and complex honey they were hooked.

But the thing that was most fun for me to see was how excited the Maijuna were to teach the students about stingless beekeeping. They are born teachers and it really showed. Telmo, pictured here, opened several of his hives and taught the students not only the ins and outs of managing and tending his hives but also detailed information about the ecology and biology of stingless bees. Hearing how much he has learned and what the project means to him and his family was truly energizing.

Telmo and the other Maijuna beekeepers are incredibly excited about the future of the project and we hope that you are too! New families are looking to join the beekeeping project and funding travel costs to their communities to train and support them is only $250. Thanks so much for your continued support – your generosity has helped to make this exciting project possible!

Telmo -- working in beehive
Telmo -- working in beehive
Telmo's beehive
Telmo's beehive
GMU students and Maijuna
GMU students and Maijuna
Squirrel monkey in Maijuna lands
Squirrel monkey in Maijuna lands
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Bee shirts
Bee shirts

Every time we run a beekeeper training workshop with the Maijuna we always try to do something totally different and unexpected. During our last workshop, we not only taught skills that are critical to improving how the Maijuna manage their stingless beehives but we also had fun by painting shirts with bee designs (pictured here). The Maijuna beekeepers take great pride in their bees and the knowledge that they are learning, and what better way to show that off than by wearing a bee shirt!

During this last weeklong visit to the community, we did more serious work as well. For example, we tested each of the beekeepers theoretical and practical knowledge of beekeeping to date by administering an exam and doing a thorough review of each of their hives. The results of the exam were incredibly encouraging as 75% of the beekeepers met the minimum level of knowledge expected and the management of their hives continues to improve. One of our star Maijuna beekeepers is Duglas (pictured below); he passed his exam with flying colors and his three hives are well-managed and thriving.

Duglas and his family have high hopes for the future with the goal of having over two dozen hives themselves. This would mean a steady stream of sustainable income from honey and other hive products, ultimately boosting his family’s quality of life. Providing a hive of native stingless bees to Duglas or another Maijuna family costs just $50 and is only possible because of the generosity of supporters like you. Thanks so much for your continued support, we couldn’t do it without you!

Making bee shirts
Making bee shirts
Duglas -- Maijuna beekeeper
Duglas -- Maijuna beekeeper
Stingless beehive
Stingless beehive
Sunset in Maijuna lands
Sunset in Maijuna lands
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Organization Information

OnePlanet

Location: Burke, VA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Michael Gilmore
President, OnePlanet
Burke, VA United States
$18,253 raised of $35,000 goal
 
227 donations
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