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
Building second stories for the beehives
Building second stories for the beehives

It is honey harvest time in Guatemala! Beekeeping cooperatives in the San Lucas Toliman communities of Panimaquip, Pampojila, and Totolya have harvested three times since mid-December. These groups are phased out of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Beekeeping Project, which means that they are now independently running cooperatives and our role is to provide technical support when needed. Their honey will be sold in different restaurants and stores throughout San Lucas Toliman.

Meanwhile, the cooperative Las Diez Rosas (The Ten Roses) in Huehuetenango is entering their second year of the Beekeeping Project. Genaro, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Beekeeping Technician, traveled north to visit the cooperative and lead a workshop in the apiaries. “During the training we worked on the beehives to add a ‘second story’. This way, the bees have more space to make honey, and the cooperatives are able to harvest greater amounts,” Genaro explained.

Las Diez Rosas harvested 40-lbs in January, and they have packaged some of the honey into jars to sell to Coopesqui, a coffee cooperative in Huehuetenango. Las Diez Rosas will be harvesting again in April and May, which means more honey to sell! Through beekeeping, this cooperative of ten women is diversifying their sources of income and strengthening their economic security!

Bees are abuzz for Las Diez Rosas!
Bees are abuzz for Las Diez Rosas!
Las Diez Rosas in the apiaries
Las Diez Rosas in the apiaries
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Melipona bees
Melipona bees

Now that it’s December, our beekeepers are getting ready for the honey harvest! The Aj Tikonel Kab beekeeping cooperative will be collecting their honey later in December, while Las Diez Rosas in Huehuetenango will harvest later next year, due to climate differences.

Alongside the honey harvest prep, our Beekeeping Project team has been experimenting with a new type of bee. In Santiago Atitlan and Panabaj, our team has set up two new beehives with melipona bees, bees used by ancient Mayan beekeepers.

Although melipona bees are native to Guatemala, they are difficult to harvest, since they require more technical care than regular honey bees. However, with Pueblo a Pueblo’s bee technician Genaro, who is spearheading the new beehive experiment, our beekeeping cooperatives will soon be equipped with knowledge on how to raise these bees.

In turn, the honey produced by these bees will give our beekeepers a competitive edge in the markets, as melipona honey is a more expensive type of honey with medicinal benefits. Also, raising melipona bees helps diversify the ecosystem in Guatemala, so these bees are helping both communities and the environment!

Empowering rural Guatemalan communities through beekeeping is possible only with the support of donors like you. As we near the end of the year, Pueblo a Pueblo is counting on you to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $60,000. With every dollar, we can continue this cycle of change for communities in rural Guatemala. Together we can train more beekeepers, expand community apiaries, and empower more communities.

Donate today to make a difference in rural Guatemalan communities!

Genaro with the melipona hives
Genaro with the melipona hives
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Las Diez Rosas with visitors
Las Diez Rosas with visitors

When we last checked in with our beekeeping project, they were just ending their honey harvest. Since then, beekeepers from our two partner cooperatives, Aj Tikonel Kab and Las Diez Rosas, have been busy keeping their hives healthy during the present rainy season. The bees need protection from the rain and enough food for the winter. Come October when the rain stops, the hives will be in good shape to start collecting pollen and honey!

Las Diez Rosas, our most recent beekeeping cooperative, which is led by ten women in Huehuetenango, had special visitors in early August. Pueblo a Pueblo’s annual Peacework team of six students from Ohio State University came to build beehive boxes for the cooperative. The team built ten boxes and also spent time getting to know the cooperative members and learning how beekeeping is strengthening the economic security of their families.

One member of Las Diez Rosas commented, “I want the Peacework team to know that although they may feel like they didn’t do much, their dedication and help meant so much to us.” According to Ana Cabrera, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Beekeeping Project Manager, “with these boxes, Las Diez Rosas will be able to expand their apiary -- an important next step for the cooperative.”

This past honey harvest, Las Diez Rosas did not produce enough honey to sell at the market, due to weakened hives. Now, with more beehive boxes, along with the training that the cooperative has been receiving from Pueblo a Pueblo’s bee expert Genaro Simalaj, Las Diez Rosas will be well prepared for a successful next honey season!

Peacework team visiting the apiary
Peacework team visiting the apiary
Peacework building beehive boxes
Peacework building beehive boxes
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Beekeepers in Huehuetenango checking their hives
Beekeepers in Huehuetenango checking their hives

This year’s honey harvest is finally in, but our beekeeping projects are already preparing for the coming year. And although some groups have finished training, others are continuing to build their skills.

The three beekeeping groups that make up the Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers association have officially graduated from Pueblo a Pueblo project trainings and are now operating on their own. They have the training and knowledge to properly monitor their hives and continue to sell and market their product. Now, Pueblo a Pueblo’s role is to provide technical support when needed.

Having collected their harvest and processed their honey, the Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers are in the process of marketing their products. They have been exploring new markets around the lake to sell their honey in local stores, hotels, and in specialty fairs for artisanal and organic products. Most recently, they participated in a national event for small honey producers in Solola, the state departmental capital.

Meanwhile, the year-old group of 10 women beekeepers in La Libertad, Huehuetenango have continued with trainings and have collected their first harvest. But, because of the cold temperatures in the highlands this past winter, there was a shortage of worker bees to gather the honey, leaving the hives weakened. Also, the beekeepers had just begun their trainings and were not yet equipped with the knowledge to effectively evaluate hive health. So this year, the hives did not produce enough honey to sell, and the women are sharing the 40-lb harvest among their families.

Since the cold season, however, the women of La Libertad have completed several more trainings. They now have the skills and knowledge to monitor their hives. For example, they know what to look for when checking hive health, and they can diagnose any problems that arise to either fix the problem themselves or ask Pueblo a Pueblo for technical advice.

The most recent training in Huehuetenango was conducted in April, when the women learned how to harvest and process the honey. They also learned how to divide hives to effectively grow their apiary.

Pueblo a Pueblo’s beekeeping expert, Genaro, made a return visit to Huehuetenango in May to check on the hives and to meet with the beekeepers. He also ensured that the hives were doing well after dividing them in April, and he worked with the women to prepare the hives for the upcoming rainy season.

Now that the rainy season has begun, they will not be collecting their next harvest until the fall. In the meantime, the hives are strong and the beekeepers will continue to learn more skills!

Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers selling honey at markets
Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers selling honey at markets
Genaro training beekeepers in Huehuetenango
Genaro training beekeepers in Huehuetenango
Beekeepers thanking a Mayan God for their harvest
Beekeepers thanking a Mayan God for their harvest
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Aj Tikonel Kab Beekeepers
Aj Tikonel Kab Beekeepers

Our beekeeping project has seen a successful few months! Since the beginning of the dry season in November, our Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers have been able to harvest multiple rounds of honey. The harvest is finishing up this month just as the rainy season approaches, and their honey can be found all around town and around the lake!

This year also marks the end of formal training for our Aj Tikonel Kab beekeepers, as they transition to an autonomous group. They have completed the entire training cycle, and from this point forward Pueblo a Pueblo will provide only supplemental support. Project Manager Ana Cabrera explained that the next step for Pueblo a Pueblo’s relationship with Aj Tikonel Kab is “determining what support they need and how we can best provide the support they need to become independent and thrive.”

Our partnership with the women beekeepers at La Cooperativa Crédito Esquipulas in Huehuetenango has also been progressing well.  The women are acquiring more and more beekeeping skills. So far they have completed four practical trainings, with the most recent training in January. This training session reviewed the lessons the women learned in the fall.  We helped them check on the health of the hives to evaluate what they had been doing well and what could be improved. Additionally, they learned how to prepare for different weather conditions and laid the groundwork for their first harvest. The next session in two weeks will cover all the necessary skills for harvesting and processing the honey for sale.

Ana reports that the women are “more confident in their work with the bees and their hives. They are excited about getting their first harvest at the end of April!”

An Aj Tikonel Kab beekeeper opens up the hives
An Aj Tikonel Kab beekeeper opens up the hives
Beekeepers in Huehuetenango
Beekeepers in Huehuetenango
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Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
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Boston, MA United States
$5,120 raised of $7,000 goal
 
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