Nicaragua Bee Exchange 2017, Dr Rebecca Masterman

Nicaragua Bee Exchange 2017, Dr Rebecca Masterman

Nicaragua Bee Exchange 2017

Managua, Mateare, & Somoto, Nicaragua

January 15-22, 2017


Thanks to funding from the Eva Crane Trust, the Mortenson Family Foundation, and the University of Minnesota GPS Alliance, 8 employees of the University of Minnesota Bee Squad and Lab traveled to Nicaragua in January 2017 to engage with beekeepers. The goal of the visit was to build relationships with beekeepers in Nicaragua, participate in meaningful beekeeping conversations and activities to learn from each other, and identify opportunities for future exchanges.


Successes of Nicaragua Bee Exchange 2017:

● Our host organizations, including Cantera, Fabretto, and Cooperativa la Dulce Miel, took excellent care of us. They planned and coordinated meaningful exchanges and were generous hosts.

● We spent a day harvesting boxes of surplus honey, extracting it, and returning equipment to their hives. For many of us, it was the first time that we experienced this process all in one day. We also observed that the honey frames were not left in the extractor for longer than a minute, which meant that more honey was returned to the colonies compared to our methods.

● We toured the extraction and equipment facility of a beekeeper who manages 4,000 colonies where we learned about equipment construction, maintenance, and storage.

● We had an excellent conversation with 20 beekeepers from Somoto and San Jose de Cusmapa, where we shared experiences related to beekeeping Bee squad at workmanagement, honey production, and pest management.

● Most of us saw Africanized honey bees for the first time. We visited honey bee colonies at a few different apiaries and learn from local beekeepers about their management styles.

● Many of us harvested propolis, resin the bees collect from trees and deposit in their hives, for the first time.

● We brought Minnesota honey for beekeepers to try, and it was fun for beekeepers in Nicaragua to taste a new range of honey flavors.

● We brought a book of beekeeping photos in Minnesota, which was a wonderful tool to share our Minnesota beekeeping experiences in Nicaragua.

● One of our host partners facilitated an orientation on the history and social context of Nicaragua. This orientation was valuable to us as we aimed to understand the cultural and economic realities of Nicaraguan beekeepers.


Lessons Learned on Nicaragua Bee Exchange 2017:

● It was difficult to facilitate beekeeping discussions when the levels of beekeeping experience varied from aspiring beekeepers to beekeepers with three years of experience. For most Bee Exchange conversations, our group was best suited to talk with beekeepers with at least a year of experience.

● It was physically challenging for members of our group to participate in beekeeping activities in weather hotter than 90°F in full suits. In the future, we may consider working in the early morning or late afternoon, using Brazilian mesh suits, or assisting with less vigorous beekeeping activities. Staying hydrated was important.

● It might be sensible to limit the number of beekeepers in an apiary to avoid disturbing colonies and to allow for the beekeepers to observe the colony and management at a close distance.

Dr Rebecca Masterman
Bee Squad Coordinator
University of Minnesota

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