Wednesday, March 28, 2012

finally get to look at some bees in the rainforest

The first day in the rainforest and the temperature started lower than it was in the town of Mamfe at the Cross River. About 28 degrees but quite fresh and not so humid. The sun was shining and it really felt like a warm sunny day in the UK...pretty perfect really though a little on the warm side.

Around the village of Ote there are the 5 hives belonging to the NGO Forudef who are leading the project we are involved in to develop beekeeping in the area, and 7 hives owned by the village group led by the chief of Ote, but part of the Forudef project.  We went with James Assam, the Forudef extension worker who is sponsored by Bees Abroad, to look at the current situation with the Forudef bees in the forest, and he has been having considerable trouble.

In this area the weather controls the beekeeping year with the dry season being the main foraging season when the flowers are in bloom so that the main honey harvesting period is the end of the dry season in about March.  When the rainy season starts in mid March the amount of flowers reduce and at maximum rains from June to August the bees do not fly much at all and flowers are very few.  Therefore the bees make stores from the harvest time in Feb/Mar to June which sustain them until they can fly and forage again after the rains from the end of August onwards. The main honey making period then starts again from November until March .

James was very hopeful about the hives this year as 3 were colonised and looked very promising with good stores and plenty of bees in residence.  He was getting ready to harvest the honey in January but it was not quite ready when he had to leave to visit the other villages he is supporting with bee keeping around the area.  He was gone for several weeks and some unexpected rain occurred in late January while James was away, and a tree fell on two of the hives knocking them over.  No-One else rescued the hives and when James got back he found that the bees and honey were gone.  He managed to save the actual hives and put them back on their stands but he was completely despondent about the loss.  He did not seem all that comforted by the third hive being very active and we suggested hopeful in terms of honey but because they were incredibly aggressive and he was not keen to do much inspecting of them.

Today walking through the forest along the main road to the villages along the Takamada National Park, all felt very manageable and benign.This is the only route to access over 20 villages in the forest. The apiary was in an area of open forest with mixed trees including some cocoa planted as a cash crop. There were quite a lot of flowers about and many flying insects including butterflies.

James had already been to look at the hives and although the two that had fallen were not occupied, the third hive remained fully funcitonal and very active but a new hive had been colonised.  We did an inspection of the new colony and worked on the fallen hives to get them ready to attract more bees......

No comments: