“Honey is medicine” ... that’s what Afghans are always telling me. Honey is extremely popular in Afghanistan and therefore expensive.
Our bees are busy collecting nectar, pollinating the fruit trees at the same time.
For a number of years now, we’ve been in the process of a setting up a long-term beekeeping project. Years ago we got two of our Afghan staff involved in a pilot project, and one of them in particular has become very skilled in this area. Under qualified instruction, he began breeding bees very successfully and producing good honey. Now he has enough experience to head up a beekeeping project.
We’re starting off with 10 families. They each have a small amount of land on which they can grow vegetables for their own consumption, but it’s nowhere near enough to provide for the family financially. Each of these families has now received two beehives, equipment and training. It’s not just about learning what to do so that the bees produce plenty of honey and reproduce. The beekeepers also have to learn how to harvest, prepare and package the honey and not least how to market it. After six months, they should be able to manage on their own, but can still receive advice and support should they need it.
If all goes according to plan, we will start over again with another 10 families in 6 months. An intentional side-effect of this project is that the fruit farmers in the neighborhood benefit from the bees pollinating their fruit trees, hopefully leading to an increased harvest. There are of course costs involved: firstly for the beehives and bee colonies themselves, as well as payment for the instructor. The bees also require medicines to keep them healthy, and for the winter they will need to be transported to the area of Jalalabad, which is at a lower altitude so the bees will be able to find enough flowering plants to survive the winter without needing to be fed with an expensive sugar solution.
We are very excited about this project. The first phase will cost around 4000 euros. If you want to be involved, quote Project no. 6701 or simply “Bees” when making your donation.
First week in June 2014: the project started with 10 families. That’s around 100 people, including many children.
24 July: the bees have been busy, producing an average of 8 kilograms (17.5 lbs) of honey per family. The families are selling 6 kg of honey to pay for school supplies for their children (work materials, school uniform). And retain 2 kg for themselves - yum!