The climate and fauna for honey bees in the Villa Sandino area is outstanding. Many local farmers harvest honey from wild hives. Late at night they start a fire to create smoke under the hive, and then rob the honey from the bees. This is dangerous work because the bees are an aggressive African strain mix that like to sting, and the men do not have protective equipment. Some farmers even keep a few gentler bees in a hollowed out log next to their house where they can harvest a couple gallons of honey a year. However, there have been no commercial beekeepers using the classic hive boxes we are used to seeing.
Honey has a strong market, from local sales to a variety of cooperatives and businesses that buy on the open market. Beekeeping produces a naturally occurring product that is in high demand. It brings new money into the community. In traditional businesses like selling clothes for example, the product must be purchased outside the community and so money flows out. But beekeeping the product is produced locally and primarily sold outside the community so money flows in.
In January 2016 we partnered with group from Wisconsin that had funding to send master beekeepers to Nicaragua for training, and to provide starter kits for the new beekeepers. They provided 4 started hives, and trained 9 new beekeepers from 6 different communities.
It is a community enterprise, where all the beekeepers share ownership, decision making, and profits from their efforts. We currently have 2 groups working together. Each group has agreed to train and equipment a new group in less than 3 years. We hope they will rapidly expand their number of hives, and the number of groups will grow quickly as well.