Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thank you for the support!

I owe a huge thank you to a number of people, beekeeping organizations, and businesses who have donated equipment to the beekeepers of Kasese and Mwazisi.  A number of members from the Backyard Beekeepers Association of Connecticut donated lightly used veils, gloves and hive tools.  Many members also donated money to buy equipment, along with $500 donated by the BYBA board of directors, and individual contributions from friends and colleagues at Stone Barns.

I used that money to buy beekeeping equipment from two great local beekeeping equipment companies Betterbee in Greenwich NY,  and Bee Commerce in Weston CT.  I bought full suits, because folks sure aren't kidding when you hear African honey bees are more defensive! I was once chased over a mile through Maize fields by an angry colony and stung in the head over 50 times (I looked like Marlon Brando for a week.)  I also bought lots of beekeeping gloves with elastic rings at the elbows, because as I remember from Malawi good protective gloves with dexterity are impossible to find.  Most people use the industrial rubber gloves meant for use with harsh chemicals, and they simply tie them off at the wrists.  The canvas gloves will be easier to work with, less hot, and safer.  I also bought lots of cloth bucket filters for the beekeepers to use filtering their own honey, and honey gates to be attached to settling tanks and buckets for easy jarring.  Both companies I bought from offered the equipment at a very low price and made generous contributions themselves.  In fact both companies donated refratometers (the two devices in the photo in grey and black cases) for use at the bulking centers which is a very important tool for determining the water content of honey to make sure that it won't ferment.  Bee Commerce also donated the stainless steel double sieves (above the refractometers in the photo) that will also be kept at the bulking centers for filtering honey before jarring.  Another CT beekeeping business  Honey Bee Farm LLC donated the two veils with the straw hats (near the top left corner of the photo) which will be nice on the particularly hot humid days.

I also used donated money to buy several beekeeping training books (left side of the photo) from a UK based NGO called bees for development.  These manuals were developed as lesson plans for teaching beekeeping groups in Africa, and they come with training cards that have clear photos.  The two books that I think will be of particular value for this project were specifically tailored to beekeeping in Uganda, they are Market access for beekeepers, and Information for honey packers.  These have both been incredibly informative in better understanding the current climate around beekeeping and honey selling in Uganda.  The other book in the photo is the Penn State Field Guide to Honey Bees and Their Maladies I got this from the Empire State Honey Producers Association.  I'm sure it's high resolution photos will be another good teaching tool.

The only items in the photos are Stone Barns t-shirts and patches which I bought as gifts for my hosts over the next three weeks.  I also brought Pocatico Hills Fire Department t-shirts and the extra shirts from the Young Farmers Conference as little mementos of my life in New York for the people of Kasese and Mwazisi.

Thank you very much to everybody who donated to this project and who is supporting this type of work.  If you do business with the above mentioned businesses, please thank them for their contributions.

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