Finding a Place Among the Trees

It is Thursday morning and the motorcycles that are packed with three wooden capture boxes have just arrived at the home of Evaristo Joaquim.  Inácio Joseph, Celestino Hilário and Evaristo, three of Namuli’s beekeepers, wait for the Legado: Namuli field team as they bring their supplies around the fire.  The beekeepers are growing more familiar with working with the capture boxes, and they are eager to install some more.

Sitting together in a circle around the fire, surrounded by the echoes of laughing children, Evaristo, Inácio and Celestino remember the process of how to capture the bees and the new ways to interact with them, walking us through step by step.  Quiet and observant as the wax melts to prepare the bars for the boxes, they are preparing to put into practice everything that they have learned about sustainable beekeeping.

With the wax melted and ready to set, the three men hover over the table as they carefully pour the wax onto the board.  Slow and steady, they each take a turn to prepare the wax rows for their capture boxes where the bees will first enter to form the colony and begin building the honeycomb.

As we discuss the forested areas where they chose to mount their boxes, they explain all of the components necessary for the selection of the perfect installation location of the apiaries: shade, trees, and flowers.  Their animated dialogue reflects a true understanding of the importance of finding the right place for the bees.  Celestino remarks, “before we used fire against the bees, and now we have to learn to protect them.”

From the porch of Sr. Evaristo’s home, we walk down a small valley to a stream and a cluster of banana trees and other native vegetation.  Three little peach tree seedlings pop above the soil, spreading their first leaves, protected under a tent of sticks.  With the knowledge from the beekeeping training, Sr. Evaristo planted the trees to help attract bees.  Resting on a boulder adjacent to the tree he selected to install his new capture box was a traditional hive, placed to help the colonization of the new box – the true integration of traditional and modern techniques.

Climbing into the tree to secure the capture box, Sr. Evaristo reaches to the branches for support.  He ties the box up with rope and carefully covers it with banana leaves to protect it from the rain.  The box is in place and all that is left to do is wait for the bees to come.  As we head up from the valley and back towards his home, he takes one last look at the capture box resting in the branches of the tree and a smile spreads across his face.