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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
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!
By MAP Intern: Maria Savage & Photography: Jon Baines
The MAP Asia staff packed their bags on July 11th, 2016 and took a visit to Nai Nang Village, Krabi province, Thailand with high hopes for a promising partnership. In 2015 the Marriott Hotel in Thailand teamed up with MAP to undertake a mangrove restoration site assessment in Phang Nga province to ensure successful mangrove planting by Phuket Marriott staff as part of their mangrove Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program through IUCN Thailand. IUCN had invited MAP to visit the Hin Laad mangrove restoration site to ensure the site was effective in regeneration. Since then, the Marriott has raised interest in MAP’s work with the Nai Nang Apiculture group selling honey as an alternative livelihood while protecting and restoring mangroves in their village.
Left to right: Intern, Photographer, Coordinator, Project Manager
The meeting was held in close proximity to the bee boxes that the Nai Nang Villagers have built with the support of wood working tools provided by the Mangrove Action Project. The project was funded under Global Nature Fund of Germany and was called “Mangrove Restoration and Reforestation in Asia, a Project for Knowledge Exchange and Action to Protect Climate change, Forest and Biodiversity” as an effort to expand on the few families experimenting with bee keeping in the community. MAP saw the expansion as a gateway to alternative livelihoods for the Nai Nang Village community members. Here is the catch, when villages agree to produce honey, they are no longer allowed to use pesticides on their crops. This is a win-win for all members. The bees can flourish without toxins and chemicals present while the villagers expel the added cost of poisonous products. Some members note a decrease in the number of pests found on their crops and they credit the busy bees!
Apiculture workshops and value-add honey product training seminars were held for the people to produce hand soap, shampoo and conditioner to build capacity and market village produced products. The hives were incredibly successful, and the community sold 276 bottles of honey in 2015! A village Conservation Fund was established with 10% of all honey and honey product sales.
This golden honey is produced as part of the mangrove conservation efforts, it was sure to spark the interest of responsible fair-trade businesses. That’s where Mr. Sean Panton, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Representative for the Marriott Hotel chain Thailand and Ms. Kanokwan Homchaaim (Nok), Marriot Thailand’s Field Coordinator for IUCN come into the picture.
The meeting was planned to establish a partnership between the Nai Nang Village Apiculture Group and the Marriott Hotel CSR program. Sean and Nok recognized the many benefits of conservation group’s honey, and they are sure the customers of the Marriott would agree. The idea is to showcase the honey on the hotel’s breakfast buffets with background information about where it is produced and with details about the Nai Nang Apiculture Group. This marketing strategy will appeal to conscience of people who are looking to support local communities and local conservation efforts.
Exposing the hive
We were lucky enough to visit the beehives and see first-hand the honeycomb extraction. The workers looked more like soldiers; dressed head to toe in a camouflage suit and toped with a veil hat. They were well prepared for the vast number of protective bees working on the hive. We were even given a taste of the fresh honey combs direct from the hive. I admit, I have an inexhaustible sweet tooth and am no stranger to toast and honey, but this honey was a real treat. I haven’t tasted anything quite like it! It was fruity and flowerily all at once. Needless to say, I showed my support and bought a bottle.
Sean (in black) and Nok (in white) sampling the honey
I am fortunate to have witnessed a partnership that secures the future for this hard working community. Nai Nang Honey should be shared with more people, and they have already begun to do so. In March 2016 the experienced members of Ban Nai Nang offered guidance in an apiculture workshop for Ban Ta-Sanook in Phang Nga province. This opens doors of opportunity for many families and continued mangrove conservation. Marriott Hotel has made a conscientious decision in supporting conservation related supplementary livelihoods while sharing the benefits of this golden treat.