Honey Tasting: Teaching about Bees and Earning Sustainable Income
By Michael Gilmore - Project Leader
Maijuna beekeeper with visitors
Over the past year, we have been working closely with the Maijuna as well as other partners (Amazon Explorama Lodges and Amazon Rainforest Workshops) to develop educational programs for visitors to Maijuna lands. These educational programs are geared toward university and high school groups from the US as well as ecotourists with an emphasis on conservation and sustainable development projects in Maijuna lands. A focal point of these programs is the stingless beekeeping project and we have trained the Maijuna to effectively teach visitors about the biology and ecology of Amazonian stingless bees as well as the details of the project.
These hands-on bee programs culminate in opening hives and doing a honey tasting which is always the highlight of the visitor experience. We can think of no better way to learn about native stingless bees than to have a firsthand peek and taste directly from the hive. And, the first question that people always ask after tasting the honey is: “Can I buy some?” In response to these requests, we have been working with the Maijuna to develop a marketing and sales strategy that earns them a premium price for their honey. For a 2-oz bottle of stingless bee honey the Maijuna earn $3 selling it directly to visitors, which is ten times what they would earn on the regional market! Our goal is to ramp up direct visitor sales as well as honey production in the coming months.
And, by the way, we have structured things so all visitors to the Maijuna community pay an entrance fee to take part in the educational programs and their visit culminates in a craft fair where Maijuna artisans sell traditional crafts to visitors. Over the past three months alone, 6 university/high school groups consisting of 130 students in total as well as over 150 ecotourists visited the Maijuna bringing in even more sustainable income to the community. All of this is helping to boost the income of the Maijuna which is critical since each family has traditionally earned less than $2 per day.
The 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 and we promise that we will continue to keep you updated as this project progresses!
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