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Beekeeping in the rainforest of Nicaragua

Ole Hertz, Denmark

For the last three years, the Danish NGO Nepenthes has been working with a DANIDA-supported project concerning the environmental awareness among young, local people. The work is in co-operation with the Nicaraguan NGO Fundacion del Rio (FdR). This organisation has its main office in San Carlos on the south-east coast of Lake Nicaragua.

FdR own part of one of the rainforest-covered Solitiname Islands in the Lake. A main activity has been the construction of El Quebrachio Rainforest Centre, 50 km east of San Juan. The Centre is situated in the forest buffer zone of the Indio Maiz Forest Reserve, part of the Central American forest corridor. Here classes of children and teachers from the 48 schools spend a few days learning about the forest and how it can be used in sustainable ways. There are footpaths through the forest where medicinal plants, spices and other useful forest products are demonstrated.

Beekeeping with honeybees is a small part of the project, but there has been great interest to learn the business. Previously, there was no beekeeping in the area, except for a few beekeepers with stingless bees. A log hive with stingless bees has been established, and it is the intention to involve other local beekeepers in training with stingless bees.

The hives for honeybees had to be transported 250 km: there were no honeybee beekeepers found close to the rainforest centre

The first hives and honeybees had to be transported 250 km by car, canoe and horse to the Centre. One colony of Africanised bees was also brought. Beekeeping training has taken place at the Centre, and a Nicaraguan professional beekeeper has been engaged to give regular training. The first exhibition of beekeeping products made by one of the youth groups has taken place with great success.

Nepenthes are at www.nepenthes.dk