Ilarion Celestin, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Haitian Ministry of Environment as part of its anti-desertification project to modernize its honey production. World bee day is marked annually on May 20.
“I used to be a traditional beekeeper. My bees made honey in a hollow tree, but then Food and Agriculture Organization assisted me in my transition to modern beekeeping with technical training and all the equipment, including 18 beehives, I needed to be a professional beekeeper.
We have learned how to properly care for bees and now they are healthier, producing more honey and more hygienic production.
I love honey because it tastes delicious and rich in protein and is also a medicine. My bees make four different types of honey; My favorite is from the flower of the Moringa tree, which is a type of white honey.
Bees do the hard work
This is not a hard job, I check every hive twice a month and harvest honey three times a year. It’s the bees that do the hard work.
My honey production has increased from about two gallons a year when I take care of bees the traditional way, to about 270 gallons and of course, my life has completely changed.
I can make very good money. A gallon sells for about $50, so it’s good business. FAO tell us there is a great demand for honey and maybe in the future my products will be exported abroad. Right now, I sell it locally and in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Now I can afford to send my children to school, build a house and buy a cow.
More and more people are interested in becoming a beekeeper, especially since the earthquake in August 2021. I was trained by FAO to teach locals and they come to my farm to see the way I run my business, so I am leading many training sessions and I feel good to share my knowledge and experience with others. Currently, about 60 beekeepers are producing in this area.
These new beekeepers realize that even an earthquake can’t disrupt bees from making honey, although some farmers in my association have lost several colonies when their hive fell during the winter. earthquake last August and of course there is also the risk of landslides. . But overall, this is a good job for the future.
The challenge of climate change
The main challenge we face is climate change. When we have a drought, the flowers on the tree don’t grow as well and there is less water, so bees have to travel farther to collect nectar and drink water, which means they produce less honey.
So I’m starting to plant the plants and make sure they get enough water. In this way, I am also advocating for the restoration of local forests that are good for my community because of the less eroded soil that farmers use to grow crops and increase biodiversity.
This is a good and very sustainable business and I am very proud of my honey. ”