The Mason Honey Bee Initiative Working in Colombia

George Mason Honey Bee Initiative in Colombia
George Mason Honey Bee Initiative in Colombia

As part of his work with the Honey Bee Initiative, New Century College’s German Perilla recently concluded a community assessment and beekeeping training session with residents from the El Bosque coffee plantation located in El Socorro, northern Colombia. The goal of Perilla’s training is to provide community members with the knowledge and skills needed to develop and manage their own honey bee hives, providing additional sources of nutrition and income to the community.

Perilla developed this assessment and training program with the hopes that the information can be shared in neighboring communities using a train-the-trainer approach. The initial work began with 18 women from 18 different families, assigned to different working groups based on their home’s proximity to others. Mentors and community leaders were identified and assigned specific tasks. Perilla distributed ten sets of bee handling equipment among participants, and after individual instruction and mentoring, achieved the goal of leaving ten installed hives in the community.

Future plans in the El Bosque community include more advanced training for keepers of Meliponas and Apis bees, the development and implementation of socially responsible bee-related industries, training in environmental sustainability, decision-making and program administration. Ultimately community leaders and mentors will share this information and training with other households and communities, so that others have additional sources of income that are environmentally sound.

Perilla noted that specifically training women to keep bees and manage any bee-related products offers them additional educational and income generating opportunities that they may not otherwise have. Perilla plans to visit this community again next summer to provide more advanced training and support. Later this week, Perilla will leave Colombia and travel to Santa Clara, El Salvador where he will work with other communities interested in beekeeping.