Clint and Janice Return from Swazilandby Walker Honey Farm on 04/09/12
We returned from Swaziland a couple of weeks ago. We are finally over a surprisingly persistent jet lag.Yes, we saw Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe, and Water Buffalo. And Clint saw enough
In a country where 40% of the population is infected with HIV and over 50 percent of the people live on less than a dollar per day there is more than enough pain and struggle to go around. Nevertheless, we came home encouraged. We are encouraged that beekeeping can make a difference for many of these good people. Honey is a revered natural product that commands good prices and is in short supply in Swaziland. The bees are difficult. They are the southern African race of bees that are the precursors of the "killer bees" that we have here in the US. Theft is a serious issue. When a few stings--or many stings!--is the only price for a week's wages worth of stolen honey, there is a high incentive to steal honey and bees. There are very few successful beekeepers in the country.
After being on the ground in Swaziland for two weeks we have come away with a hopeful and workable plan. We were able to make contact with Luke Mswane, a local Swazi who has developed methods for managing bees in that locale. We have been able to secure training and bees through Mr. Mswane. It appears that we will be able to begin classroom and hands-on beekeeping training as early as this June. Clint was able to make presentations on beekeeping at two campuses of Southern Africa Nazarene University--one to business students at the main campus in Manzini and one to theology students at the campus in Siteki. With the help of Jeff Ebbs of Urban Lawns in Oklahoma City, we were also able to clear a quarter-acre area of head-high grass and brush on a beautiful hillside on the farm attached to the campus at Siteki. This clearing will be the site of our first Swazi training apiary. A fencing contractor will be building a security fence where the first 20 hives will be placed this winter--that's June in Swaziland. The training program will begin at the same time. The training program will include honey bee biology, beekeeping management, business and marketing training, and training in hive product development. We are also considering adding a micro-finance component to the program so that successfully trained students who show initiative and promise can qualify to borrow small sums of money to get their own beekeeping businesses started back in their home villages. It is a complete and aggressive program that we are helping to create. We have good strong partners in The Swaziland Partnership and Great Commission Companies Enterprises. But most importantly, the Swazi people are highly motivated and very bright. They only need a skill . . . and a little help.