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"The Peace Corps beekeeping training has empowered me to control my own work"

Madame Victorine Chia displays the beehive that she built after a technical session on hive construction

Situated in the hills of northwest Cameroon, Belo is a village made up of subsistence farmers primarily cultivating staple crops such as corn and beans. 

Many subsistence farmers in the community experience food insecurity, and it reaches a peak during the transition from dry to rainy season as food stores have been depleted and another harvest is not yet ready.

The keeping of honey bees as a source of readily absorbable calories, especially for children and sick people, is underutilized, as the collection of honey in the area was traditionally done by “honey badgering,” or hunting for bees in the bush. Noting that training local farmers on improved beekeeping techniques would increase the availability of foodstuff during the hunger period and provide a means to decrease poverty, the Peace Corps, supported by the West Africa Food Security Partnership, organized a technical beekeeping training.

In January, February and March, a group of 17 farmers completed series of trainings on improved beekeeping techniques including Kenyan Top Bar Hive construction, hive baiting, apiary selection and management, harvesting, value added processing and record keeping. Local contributors Joshua Chiamba and Clement Mbain participated.

Since the training, the group has placed 39 Kenyan Top Bar Hives in apiaries around the community. The new colonies will provide the community with approximately 310 liters of honey over the next year for increased availability of calories and incomes. 

Madame Victorine Chia, a new beekeeper, constructed three beehives for her apiary. She said, “The Peace Corps beekeeping training has empowered me to control my own work. I know how to build my own hive now, and I know how to harvest. I can use these skills to provide income for my family.”