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By Kate Knight Office Development & Field Project Assistant (Intern)
On July 1st 2018, Mangrove Action Project and Nai Nang Apiculture Group hosted a “How to do” beekeeping training workshop for new communities interested in this supplementary livelihood. There was a total of 32 participant trainees who came from 3 different villages that MAP currently has a mangrove restoration project in: 12 people from Bang Kang Khao village, Sikao District, Trang; 4 people from Thung Yor village, Klong Thom District, Krabi; and 16 people from Kong Lu village, Muang District, Krabi. The workshop provided a great opportunity for Nai Nang trainers to disseminate some of their valuable knowledge and for other villages to learn about how the group has become so successful with their apiculture enterprise, with the hope of being able to replicate it in their own village. This livelihood training workshop was kindly funded by the LUSH Charity Pot, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetic company.
Community to community apiculture training gets underway.
The day started with a welcome speech and introduction from Mr Arlee, the secretary of the Nai Nang Apiculture group, the hosts and trainers. Ning, MAP Thailand’s field officer, then gave a brief talk about the work MAP has done in Nai Nang and the background to the workshop, followed by a brief discussion of how the Nai Nang group was formed given by the president, Mr. Sutee Pankwan. Nai Nang village was originally a part of a larger conservation group with the neighboring villages called the Khloa Kan Conservation Group, who were responsible for the mangrove forests, peat forest lands and coastal ecosystems in the district. There were many frustrations for the conservation group, such as no budget to carry out large projects but also the time needed to rehabilitate the forest meaning a long wait before the community were able to make a livelihood from the forest. Therefore, Nai Nang decided to start a local enterprise raising bees in order to provide themselves with a supplemental income while at the same time still supporting their important mangrove conservation work.
Trainees, both male and female, were keen listeners & students.
The Nai Nang Apiculture group gave a very professional detailed, interesting and fun workshop on the many steps to successful bee keeping. Firstly, they explained how they construct the beehive boxes out of recycled wood removed from old abandoned boats. There was then the opportunity for the participants to get hands-on and construct their own boxes using some wood and tools supplied by Nai Nang. “Learning by doing” was lots of fun for all the trainees while the trainers provide useful tips based on their experience. After the successful construction exercise, everyone set off to the nearby rubber tree plantation on the edge of a mangrove forest which is the site where it is possible to set-out the boxes so wild bees (apis cerana) can take-up free residency and establish a productive colony. Here we were given another demonstration about how to set up the new bee box and make it an attractive home by rubbing bees wax on the inside and then transport them to the permanent bee yard.
After lunch the a step-by-step demonstration continued with participants being shown how to collect the honeycomb from the active beehive, without getting stung, which is a real skill so everyone paid very close attention. Throughout the workshop, the participants were keen listeners and had many interesting questions for the group. The highlight of the workshop for many trainees was the demonstration of extracting the honey, filtering it, and finally getting a chance to taste the fresh golden liquid. The profitable honey represented the sweet taste of a successful partnership between the hardworking bee colony and Nai Nang Apiculture group which provides the safe, dry, rent free homes and protecting their mangrove as a source of nectar for the bees.
Materials and tools needed for constructing beehive boxes.
Demonstration showing how to extract and filter the honey.
One of the main points made during the workshop was the importance of mangrove conservation for bee raising. It was stressed how the two projects go hand in hand and it is not possible to raise bees without also working on mangrove conservation. Bees must have enough food sources within five kilometers of the bee hive for them to produce honey so ensuring a healthy forest is a precursor for apiculture.
Just before lunch everyone was treated to a short drive to view the mangrove forests in Nai Nang and MAP’s original Community Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration site. This was a particularly interesting part of the day where each village shared their own experiences with mangrove conservation and discussed the differences between the mangrove sites in Nai Nang and the ones in their own village. Many great stories and advice was shared between the Nai Nang Group and other villagers, and everyone took something new away with them.
Discussion between communities on mangrove conservation & restoration.
The workshop ended with each village coming together to discuss what they had learnt during the workshop. Using flipcharts each village created a quick strategy of what they would do next when they returned to their village in order to start raising bees. These were then shared with the group and then opened up to members of the Nai Nang Apiculture Group for comments and suggestions. It was clear how much each participant had learned from the workshop with the amount of detail that had gone into the plans. It was particularly good to see that each strategy started with improving the health of the mangrove forests and ensuring plentiful food sources for bees as this was one thing that was continually stressed throughout the workshop.
Ban Klong Kum community presented their apiculture plans
Please watch our short video (6:33 minutes) on the beekeeping workshop held at Nai Nang https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On80W7sswJw&t=1s
Mangrove Meet-up: Sharing ideas, perspectives and experiences
March 9th was another sweltering day in southern Thailand. The air was almost wet with humidity, the sun beat down from overhead, and the relentless heat hung around like a blanket. However, the midday temperature did not stop the seven villagers from Ban Thung Yor, Klong Thom, Krabi Province who were exploring the mangrove restoration site at Ban Nai Nang. This was the second stop on a two-day tour of three villages affiliated with Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and funded through Synchronicity Earth of the UK. The tour was set up to highlight the experiences of MAPs participants and share ideas of how to successfully restore their own mangrove area.
Earlier that day they had explored the site at Ban Lang Da- a reclaimed shrimp pond area where the abundant green mangroves showed the success of the Community Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration project (CBEMR) started in 2008. The site was restored back to mangrove forest, after it had been converted into a shrimp pond and then abandoned for more than 10 years. Village leader Mr. Bandon Mad-osot showed the sites’ foliage and reestablished fish, crab and bird populations to the villagers from Ban Thung Yor. He spoke of his community’s experience working with MAP and ended his tour by saying, “I don’t have very much more to say. Just do it! You will see so many benefits for your community.” The villagers asked many questions and were excited to see how the area has reestablished the mangroves over time. “It is beautiful,” spoke the village chief of Thung Yor, “so much green everywhere.”
Our group posing for a picture in front of the bee and rubber garden at Ban Nai Nang. March 8th, 2017
The second stop of the day brought the villagers to the heat of mid-day and to the eco village of Ban Nai Nang. Villagers got to meet Mr. Sutee Pankwan the chairperson of the villages apiculture group, and discussed how the village has many different groups (crab bank, ecotourism, and apiculture product production) and that allwork together and contribute their profits to the conservation group that aids the preservation of the mangroves. Sutee Pankwan highlighted the need to learn and work together and share knowledge to be successful, and told the group that, “working together is the key to our success. We all have different groups in the village, but we always make sure that some of the money we make, goes into the conservation fund. Without natre, our projects would be pointless.” He also shared that the village was trying to register as a community forest, and that they have plans to work on rehabilitating the mangrove area in the coming month. After trying some of the delicious honey and touring the mangrove site, the villagers embarked on the final step of their trip.
Two participants showing off their own handmade Batik prints made at Ban Talae Nok. March 9th, 2017.
The tour concluded with an overnight visit to the village of Ban Talae Nok. Villagers here have worked for years to reestablish their mangrove area, and have divided it into two sections- one left to restore naturally, and another with the addition of the planning of Nypa plants that the villagers use for thatch roofs, cigarette rollers, food, and daily life. Villagers of Ban Thung Yor were invited to learn to make batik fabric prints and were taken on a tour of the mangrove area, which has grown a considerable amount since the last time it was visited. “Our biggest problem was hydrology of the site,” spoke Mr. Ekakarat Cheangyang, “once we got the hydrology fixed, the area grew back quite quickly, and is still growing.” Indeed, the lush green leaves and myriad of crabs, birds, and monkeys are a sure sign of the sites success.
A group “selfie” in the Mangrove Restoration Site at Ban Talae Nok. March 9th, 2017.
Upon saying goodbye, and arriving back in Ban Thung Yor, the participants were left with a lot of information and knowledge. Thung Yor village chief, Mr. Raksa Komodkhan said, “Thank you so much for taking us on this trip. We have a lot to think about now and will raise these ideas with our community.” Hopefully after some reflection, they will decide to join the MAP network and make their site the latest addition to the restoration areas directed by MAP.
Nai Nang’s honey will “BEE” in the best hotels of Thailand!
Four years ago the community of Nai Nang in Krabi province, Thailand, started producing honey partly made from the mangroves flowers surrounding the village, but the most challenging part was how to market it. Most of the income and jobs around Nai Nang village are based on palm oil, rubber and fishing. The people asked themselves, “How can we make an income besides farming and fishing?” That’s when the idea of honey bees came along as serveral community members had already set-out bee boxes which had been colonized by the wild bee, Apis cerana. This is not only good for theenvironment, but also a great source of income and excellent for
Mangroves are vital to this project, and MAP has provided technical support helping out with mangrove planting, drainage of the area allowing natural mangrove reproduction.But most importantly, teaching and educating the community so they can take care of the mangrove and continue with the restoration and conservation of this ecosystem. The mangrove is as vital to community as the community to the mangrove.
Part of MAP’s help has been providing packaging and marketing support, and thingsare looking good for Nai Nang! The effort of the people and MAP is showing good results, as a couple of weeks ago Nai Nang received a visit from Mr. Sean Panton, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Marriott Hotels Thailand. He is responsible for the development of internal and external community and environmental programs and initiatives. Sean brought two chefs from Marriott Hotels in Phuket to taste test the honey. They liked it very much for the original salty-sweet taste of it, and their business interest with the community looks promising as they hope to make an agreement to purchase all natural raw Nai Nang honey to supply their hotels here in Thailand, the honey will be in the welcome drinks in Marriott Phuket and during the breakfast buffet in all the other Marriott branches.
This is great news for MAP and the Nai Nang community! A friendly relationship between the hotel business and conservation is possible, and what better example than this!