Apiculteurs Sans Frontieres, France
In eastern Senegal, south of Niokolo Koba Park, you will find the lush vegetation of a wooded savannah, which despite yearly bush fires remains exceptionally dense.
However, the inhabitants of these territories, the local Peuls and Bassaris people are very poor. Their villages are completely isolated during the rainy season which can last up to six months. The nearest shop and market are 30 km away in Senegal, or 18 km in Guinea.
It is a beautiful location for beekeeping, with over 70 traditional beekeepers living around the 12 villages of Oubadji. The French association, Dia-Dia, has been involved in many activities with these villagers since 1999. A group of trainee beekeepers, keen to improve their harvesting methods, recently called upon Apiculteurs Sans Frontieres for assistance. The trainees wanted to avoid burning the hives to reach the honey and the brood; to help them, a three-week training session was organised in December 2004. Nineteen beekeepers, both Peuls and Bassaris took part in the training. They chose to use a modified top-bar hive for a model; the wooden bases and the two smaller sides were cut in Dakar and brought to the village, whilst the taller sides, roof and top-bars were all constructed in situ, made from raffia palm. Thirty-two hives were built and shared amongst the trainees, who placed them around the countryside. These were promptly inhabited by the numerous wild swarms found in the Park Savannah.
The trainees also know how to render wax using a solar extractor and how to make it into sheets.A second training session in February 2005, showed how to divide the colonies, make raffia frames and use centrifuge equipment to extract honey. There is also a plan to build a room to process the honey and with the assistance of Electriciens Sans Frontieres, the room will be lit using solar energy.
[Bees for Development Journal #74]