Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Honeybees in Honduras

Calling All Beekeepers!
AHMEN would like to begin exploring the possibility of working with Heifer International, COAPIHL, and SIFAT to encourage beekeeping throughout Honduras!

Why Honeybees?

Honeybees are important pollinators. For many Hondurans it is the dream of a lifetime to own a small plot of land, or Milpa, to grow corn and other crops for subsistence and sale. SIFAT skill sets such as irrigation, soil conversation, and composting will help provide Hondurans with the knowledge to make their farming practices sustainable. In order for their crops to flourish, however, their must be an energetic and consistent stream of pollination. Unlike other pollinators like birds and bats who interact with plants mainly for their nectar, honeybees actively seek out flowers with pollen. 

Trained beekeepers and their communities have a mutualistic relationship with their hives. As an offshoot to helping farmers sustainably increase crop yields, and generally foster environmental homeostasis, bees produce honey, wax, and propolis (natural bee glue) for beekeepers to bring to market. In return, beekeepers provide a safe and nurturing environment for bee colonies to live and thrive. In terms of economic, environmental, and societal impacts, beekeeping is a practice I don't think Hondurans, much less any group of people, can afford to live without. Conducive to city, island, and rural life this is one avenue AHMEN has to consider.

Why Heifer International? What is COAPIHL?

As you might know, Heifer International is a non-profit organization working to end world hunger and poverty through practical training in self-reliance and sustainable development. Through a system of “living loans”, donations from people all around the globe go to providing families with cows, horses, sheep, goats, and yes, even beehives! In return, these families agree to provide other families and communities with training and one of their animal's young. Heifer International is already in Honduras, and they are already involved in the beekeeping movement with a country-wide beekeeping cooperative called COAPIHL.


In Spanish, COAPIHL stands for La Cooperativa Agropecuaria ApĂ­cola Pionera de Honduras Limitada. In English, COAPIHL means The Agricultural Beekeeping Cooperative of Honduras...you get the picture. The concept is the same as a co-op here in the United States. Agricultural producers pool their resources to maximize productivity and yield in a way that is affordable and sensitive to each producer's individual needs. Co-ops work best when everyone succeeds, and with this goal in mind, COAPIHL is committed to helping communities increase socioeconomic standing by opening markets for beekeepers both across the nation and abroad. As an environmentally appropriate and necessary practice, Heifer Works with COAPIHL to train families as beekeepers and provide them with the necessary hives and equipment to enter the market.

What does SIFAT have to do with honeybees?

Central to SIFAT's mission is helping communities learn to use organic techniques to maximize the earth's bounty in ecologically sound and sustainable ways. As part of an over-all food production plan for protein, fertilizer and microenterprise, SIFAT helps train students and volunteers in beekeeping techniques. It looks to me like AHMEN, COAPIHL, Heifer International, and SIFAT are all in Honduras for the same reason...let's go ahead and connect the dots!

Students of Byron Morales, of SIFAT, will complete their first year of training this August. New students in Colon will join the program as graduates move onto their second year of training. Meanwhile, the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative plans to establish workshops in new areas like Belaire, Yorito, La Esperanza, and La Mosquitia. As a long-term project for even longer-term change, it seems only appropriate that we begin to open up this option for promoters to explore as they prepare to learn specialized skills in their third and final year of the program.

What can we do to help?

  • Contact beekeepers in your area to help them get involved
  • Develop a relationship with the Jefferson County Beekeepers Association
  • Contact Heifer International and COAPIHL about working to bring beekeeping to Colon (COAPIHL does not currently operate along the major centers of AHMEN outreach.)
  • Contact SIFAT about beekeeping training sessions for you and your mission team's members
  • Contact Auburn University about helping make beekeeping a viable solution for social and economic justice in Honduras
  • Contact me so we can make a plan! (I'm easy to find)
  • Most importantly,CREATE A BUZZ!

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