ICIMOD and SAPLING Project of HKI Collaborate to Promote Beekeeping in Ruma upazila, Bandarban

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Md. Abdul Alim Bhuiyan, the training resource person, conducting a session

Under the European Union-funded Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya (Himalica) initiative, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) partnered with the Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC) to train selected lead farmers on modern beekeeping practices in Ruma upazila from 29 October to 3 November 2017. Following training, four out of five participants from Bethel para and three out of five participants from Munlai para took up modern beekeeping. 

Encouraged by this result, the Himalica initiative sought collaboration with the Sustainable Agriculture and Production Linked to Improved Nutrition Status, Resilience, and Gender Equity (SAPLING) project—a joint Initiative of Helen Keller International (HKI)-Bangladesh, CARITAS, and USAID—to give continuity to beekeeping development efforts to improve income, health, and nutrition security of hill communities in Bandarban. 

Participants observing a bee comb to identify different castes of bees and stages of bee brood 

Between 19 and 16 February 2018 at the Zomi Resort in Ruma,  ICIMOD and SAPLING jointly held a training for 20 lead farmers, 16 of them women, from four pilot paras of Himalica and SAPLING: Bethel, Eden, Lairumpi, and Name of Ruma upazila. Women in particular were encouraged to participate in the training. Accommodations were made for women to bring their children to the venue, which then helped to facilitate the higher rate of participation among women. 

The training was facilitated by Uma Partap from ICIMOD and Md. Abdul Alim Bhuiyan, an experienced trainer and beekeeper and a successful honey trader from Dhaka.

The training was conducted through a variety of methods, including lectures, PowerPoint presentations, videos, group discussions, hands-on demonstrations, and storytelling. 

Participants preparing a bee floral calendar

The following topics were covered:

  • Bee management using movable-frame beehives
  • Colony inspection, cleaning, and feeding 
  • Seasonal bee management
  • Uniting and dividing colonies 
  • Management and control of swarming, absconding, robbing, and laying workers
  • Management and control of bee diseases, pests, and predators
  • Bee flora and pollination services
  • Harvesting, processing, value addition, and management of honey and beeswax quality
  • Safe use of agro-chemicals and pesticides to protect bees and pollinators from their harmful impacts
As part of the training, the participants visited the apiary of Zing Bawm, a local beekeeper in Munlai para, where they observed the symptoms of swarming in the colony, the presence of drone brood, queen cells, and division of the colony. They interacted with Zing and were surprised to learn that he had started beekeeping barely two months earlier after being trained by ICIMOD and BHDC. 
Participants on exposure visit to Zing Bawm apiary in Munlai para and observing the colony division

Following the training, participants received certificates of participation and beekeeping equipment, including a beehive, a bee veil, swarm bag, and queen gate. 

Participants thanked SAPLING/HKI and ICIMOD for conducting the training and expressed their commitment to start beekeeping immediately by capturing bee swarms during the upcoming swarming season. 

The beekeeping training has been consistently successful. It has inspired participants to take up beekeeping and start beekeeping enterprises to improve their own livelihoods and those of other local famers in Bandarban and beyond.