Dear GlobalGiving supporters,
I hope you and your loved ones have been able to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times! Just like in most countries around the world, in Guatemala we are feeling the effects of COVID-19. Since late March, we have been on orders to stay at home and practice social distancing. Our priority is to keep our staff and communities protected. So far, the number of Coronavirus cases in my country have remained relatively low and have concentrated mostly in urban centers. But the more isolated and rural communities where we work remain vigilant, practicing social distancing, and keeping outsiders from coming into their villages.
Of course, our work hasn’t stopped over that time. The beekeepers and farmers that I work with on a regular basis, have been requesting ongoing technical assistance—which I have been providing over cell phone and text messages. Just as the world has adapted to all things virtual using online meeting platforms, I have been able to continue walking these communities through key processes of honey production and harvest remotely. Although the communities’ technology is not as advanced, most have basic cell phones. A phone call and text messages can do the trick just as well!
In the month of March, I had several phone calls with beekeepers. We discussed how to create and place a wax foundation on which the bees can build the honeycomb to help them work quickly. I also made recommendations so that they were careful when the bees started with the production of real cells and that they were not born at harvest time. Otherwise they swarm and leave the brood chamber with a very weak population and this would affect the honey harvest.
In the month of April, I had a lot of communication with the producers because everyone was ready for the honey harvest. We discussed that as long as the frames presented an acceptable degree of maturation they could move forward. I explained the use of the extraction equipment in detail to obtain a honey free of contamination and to ensure everyones’ safety during the honey harvest.
The harvest has been good according to the beekeepers with whom I have had communication. For example Don Jorge, with his son Moisés, from the community of Nuevo San Lorenzo managed to harvest 18 liters of honey each. Marcos, Benino, and Vicente, from the Machaquila II community stated the same. It is necessary to measure the humidity of the harvested honeys to be able to determine their classification. It is worth mentioning that these are the new beekeepers with whom we started in 2019. Now in the month of May there has been a lot of communication with the beekeepers offering the basic recommendations for the division and multiplication of hives.
The honey production is providing resilience and helping rural families in Guatemala navigate these challenging times right now. But we anticipate there will be broader food insecurity as the ability to get key supplies or sell their products in town centers continues to be restricted.This is, of course, a big concern. We are in dialogue with our local staff and partners, to continue providing support in this regard.
Overall, the EcoLogic team and our partners have also taken advantage of this time to share experiences with each other, discuss our work on the ground and how we can improve or enhance our interventions. It has been a very enriching experience, to have the time to take a step back and have these discussions with our own team, and outside experts. We’ve learned a lot from different beekeeping experiences with our partners in Honduras, as well.
I look forward to keeping you updated on the experiences of these communities as we move forward in these challenging times. Thanks again for your support, it gives me the strength to keep fighting for my people and my country each and every day!
Field Technician, Ixcán, Guatemala