Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Ana leads the "spider web" activity
Ana leads the "spider web" activity

Our beekeeping team kicked off the month of April in Cumbre de Huicá, Huehuetenango, where they led a training with the all-female beekeeping collective Las Diez Rosas. Project manager Ana Cabrera and senior project technician Genaro Simalaj introduced the women to many of the skills they will need to function as a successful beekeeping enterprise, including:

  • Teamwork: What are the benefits of teamwork? How can we work efficiently as a team?
  • Collaborative decision-making: How do we make decisions and resolve problems as a group?
  • Strategic planning: How do we plan for the short- and long-term? What are the components of a good plan?
  • Cycles of production: What is the cycle of production for honey production? How do we use this knowledge to design a year-long beekeeping plan?

The teamwork portion of the day involved an activity called the "spider web". In this exercise, participants pass around a ball of string until it connects each member of the group to the others. "The activity makes teamwork visible by showing that if anyone drops their part of the string, the whole web falls down," explains Genaro. At the conclusion of the day, Ana and Genaro delivered the bottles and labels that Las Diez Rosas will need to sell their hard work.

Ana and Genaro traveled to Cumbre de Huicá again in May. This time, they led a technical training on best practices for bottling and quality control of honey products. The training also involved discussion of the business skills the women will need to effectively manage their income as a collective.

This knowledge quickly became necessary because the long-awaited harvest followed shortly after! The beekeepers collected over 375 pounds of honey, the largest harvest ever recorded by a Pueblo a Pueblo partner. After the harvest, Genaro led the beekeepers in dividing their hives, creating “daughter” hives from existing “mothers”. Through this process, the women turned their 17 hives into 30! This sets them up for an even more impressive yield next harvest.

We can’t wait to see all that the women of Las Diez Rosas continue to accomplish. Thank you for helping us support their success!

 

The participants exchange ideas as Genaro looks on
The participants exchange ideas as Genaro looks on
Ana delivers bottling materials
Ana delivers bottling materials
The beekeepers begin their harvest!
The beekeepers begin their harvest!
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The last few months of beekeeping activities have been dedicated to recovering the losses from the heavy rains, unusually cold temperatures, and earthquakes that disrupted the bees.

As we mentioned before, the art of beekeeping is not always sweet, and Genaro Simalaj, our Beekeeping Senior Project Technician, believes that facing all these obstacles is only “good training for the beekeepers to help them learn how to bounce back from adversity and learn how to adapt in these scenarios.”

We’re optimistic that the beekeepers’ and bees’ resilience will prove itself once again and that this year’s harvest will be as successful, if not more so, than last year’s. These are the months when the actual beekeeping activities slow, and we give the bees the space and time they need to produce their golden honey.

Other than occasional visits to the hives, to make sure that the site is safe from outside dangers, the beekeepers have been spending most of their time learning more skills and attending workshops to learn how to work as an efficient team and to be successful entrepreneurs. The next harvest is next month, and the beekeepers will be ready to bottle their success.  We’ll keep you posted! As always, thank you for your support!

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The last few months have been difficult for the beekeepers. In the last three months we’ve lost six hives. Three hives hive were left empty, after the bees emigrated. One hive died, and another two were destroyed in an earthquake that hit the region. This has reduced the apiary from 22 hives to 16.

The rainy season, which just ended, always brings a unique set of beekeeping challenges. The heavy rain requires a lot of upkeep to make sure that the hives remain stable and mold free.

Because temperatures in the highlands have been colder than usual, the entrances to the hives were reduced to limit the amount of cold air that enters.. This can put the hives at risk of emigration or death, and the beekeepers are responding to the threat by increasing feeding and maintenance of the hives -- in the hopes of reducing the impact.

With your Global Giving Support, we have purchased six new hives to replace the loss over the last few months. They will be installed next week to ensure that a downpour doesn’t undo our recovery efforts. We hope that these natural obstacles do not hinder the honey production.

During times of trial, like these, we are reminded of how much your generosity supports our efforts to make beekeeping an effective, sustainable way to improve the economic situations of rural coffee farmers. The farmers are determined to make the apiary thrive, and with your help -- we believe it will.  

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The last few months have been very exciting for the beekeepers! They’ve been busy bottling the honey harvest. For the group of beekeepers “Las Diez Rosas,” this was their second harvest ever. During their first year, they focused on learning methodology and how to beekeep. Their training harvest yielded 20 pounds of honey. This year, their harvest was 8.5 times more -- harvesting and bottling 170 pounds of honey!

“We’re happy that the group improved their harvest so much! It’s good to see the beekeepers’ hard work pay off and see them realize that this can be a very viable option for income diversification after the coffee harvest,” Ana Cabrera, project manager, said.

There’s little time for celebrating, though. The rainy season in Guatemala, mid-may through October, makes beekeeping a high-maintenance job. Managing the apiaries during these months includes ensuring that the apiaries receive proper airflow and have adequate sunlight to reduce the risk of fungus or pests.

The beekeeper's excitement and pride with this harvest is well earned. Learning how to not only manage and harvest honey, but also market and produce sales as a cooperative is vital to the long- term sustainability and effectiveness of this project. Your GlobalGiving donations support smallholder coffee farmers and help thembecome empowered beekeepers. Thank You!

Beekeepers bottled 170 pounds of honey
Beekeepers bottled 170 pounds of honey
The apiaries require upkeep during rainy season
The apiaries require upkeep during rainy season
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Las Diez Rosas checking on their hives
Las Diez Rosas checking on their hives

Bees are abuzz here in Guatemala. For our partner beekeeping groups, the honey harvest has been underway these last three months. Now, Aj Tikonel Kab and Las Diez Rosas, the two beekeeping groups, are bottling and processing the honey. But the honey harvest is not over -- with the rainy season, there is a new flowering of plants. So at the beginning of June, the groups will harvest honey once again. 

For Las Diez Rosas (the ten roses), our newest group of ten women, our Pueblo a Pueblo team began helping with the beekeepers’ marketing and branding in May. Working with the group, we created a new logo and label for their honey bottles, which displays ten rosas -- staying true to the meaning of their name. Las Diez Rosas will soon begin to sell their honey at markets and businesses throughout the municipality of Huehuetenango.

Once the upcoming harvest in June is over, Las Diez Rosas plans to “add more beehives to their apiaries,” Ana Cabrera, our Beekeeping Project Manager, explained. Working with Genaro Simalaj, our Beekeeping Technician, the group will eventually double the size of their apiaries. This means that the group can “produce more honey, and soon more bottles will be sold!” Ana added.

We’re excited to see the new jars of honey from Las Diez Rosas, and to see their apiary grow!

The current apiary size, before the expansion
The current apiary size, before the expansion
Las Diez Rosas collecting and processing honey
Las Diez Rosas collecting and processing honey
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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
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Boston, MA United States
$5,100 raised of $7,000 goal
 
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