As part of effort to develop the beekeeping sector and improving the livelihoods of the poor, a one-week intensive training workshop has been organised in Techiman for trainee master beekeepers under the Cashew, Bees and Livelihood Project of Bees for Development Ghana (BfdG).
Bees for Development Ghana is a new independent beekeeping organisation dedicated to serving and developing the beekeeping sector in Ghana – to generate employment, to create wealth and to provide pollination services for crops and natural environments.
Under the Cashew Bees and Livelihood Project, there is an integration of beekeeping with cashew farming to support farming livelihoods in Ghana. Keeping bees in cashew farms can increase the yield of cashew nuts due to pollination.
BfdG are helping some of the poorest farming families to integrate beekeeping with cashew farming – to give the double benefit of honey to sell and increased cashew nut yields.
They are approaching this challenge in two ways.
Training cashew farmers in beekeeping and helping them get started. This involves a comprehensive training programme, with follow-on support, and an input package.
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Working with beekeepers with little land of their own and helping them enter into land and crop-sharing arrangements with cashew farmers. They place their hives in the cashew orchards in return for the pollination services of their bees.
The workshop was attended by six selected trainee Master Beekeepers from the cashew growing areas of Bono and the Bono East Regions and two teachers from Trinity Yard School at Cape Three Point in the Western Region of Ghana. These trainees came from Offuman, Kintampo, Nkoranza, Tuobodom, Nsawkaw, Techiman and Cape Three Point.
These trainees are more or less trainers of trainees as each one of them will work with 30 cashew farmers in their operational areas. And the farmers are supposed to learn the beekeeping skills from the master beekeeper – learn to become beekeepers themselves.
The facilitator who doubles as the Director of BfdG, Dr Kwame Aidoo, took the participants through the operational details of Bees for Development UK and Bees for development Ghana. The details of cashew, bees and livelihoods project were explained to the participants – the objectives of the project; the main sponsors; the sponsorship package for the trainees; obligations of BfdG as managers of the project; obligations of the trainee Master Beekeepers; and anticipated impact of the project to cashew farmers and the environment.
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The participants were schooled on topics like: the bee colonies in natural cavities; wild honey hunting in rural communities; bee colonies in logs near the homestead; development of many different kinds of bee hives; present day beekeeping in the world; resources for Beekeeping in Ghana; importance of bees and beekeeping to the national economy; pollination (fruit and seed development); bees and biodiversity conservation and the hive products.
There was also a presentation on the use of local style bee hives for sustainable beekeeping all over the world. At the end of it trainees were put into four groups and tasked to design two hives with materials available in their localities. Very interesting designs were presented and discussed.
The following day, there was a detailed discussion on the development of apiaries, especially within the cashew agricultural landscape. They were also trained on record keeping to track the day-to-day activities of their enterprise.
The workshop moved to the field on the fifth day with demonstrations and hands-on work on apiary site selection and preparation, arrangement and baiting of hives for swarms. Two methods of setting swarm boxes were demonstrated: boxes on the trunk of trees and those put high up in the canopy of trees. Participants also tried their hands on construction of local style bee hives.
Later in the day, trainees dressed up in their bee suits and observed a demonstration of the transfer of a colony in a swarm box into a hive in one of the first master beekeeper’s nearby apiaries.
At the end of an intensive training week, participants testified that they have had a fruitful time and well prepared to development themselves to become good Master Beekeepers. They assured Bees for development Ghana of their resolve to dedicate themselves to building upon the knowledge acquires at the training workshop. They promised to support the cashew farmers in their area of operation to improve their livelihoods. The participants were later given motorbikes and other beekeeping tools to enable them work effectively with the cashew farmers.