Monday, January 12, 2015

West African Trainers of Trainers Conference in Banjul, Gambia

This happened back in February 3-8 2014 and I wrote about it on Facebook, but now once getting home, being able to relax and go through some of the notes I took from this and other events that happened in the last year. I killed not one but TWO laptops so my writing sadly lessened due to that.

I hope to write on a regular basis and  about the events in the last year as well.


Spending a week in Gambia West Africa to attend the West African Bee Conference.

Abuko Nature Reserve
Beekeeper Saikou and one of the boubobs on his land that is a home to many hives
Silk Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentadra) are locally known as bee trees as a tree will have many swarms in it
Traveling from my village, Keur Mallick Fady (see map below), just over the boarder going to Banjul. Staying in Serrekunda and then traveling a few times  during the week daily to BeeCause in Lamin.

First day was presentations and getting to know everyone from the 6 West African countries represented with Peace Corps volunteers and staff. Looking back at this, it was so great to meet a few volunteers from these countries, as in-service we very rarely come in contact with them. A few months after many of these volunteers were sent home due to Ebola outbreaks.

Once acquainted with the various West African countries experience & examples seen we traveled daily to Bee Cause, a local non-profit that works very closely with locals to improve beekeeping skills, techniques and improves honey and wax quality throughout Gambia. A stunning place that used to be a music camp set in Lamin where we did our hands-on training. 

After the gate the compound just inside

The unusual round style huts with layered bricks reminded me of comb

The lush area around us with lots of palms, ferns and trees with hives in between

We saw examples of Kenyan Top Bars, Cement and other text hives; went over apiary management and calender; made catcher/swarm and baited boxes, worked a few hives at dusk, learned about melting and cleaning wax, making candles, honey harvesting techniques, as well as honey quality and had a honey tasting. Very throughout training for many first time beekeepers!

Typical  wooden KTB, Kenyan Top Bar
Looking at a wooden small capture hive 5m+ in a Kapok tree, baited and waiting for bees

Hallowed Palm trunk used as a hive, a bit deep though.

Similar cement to Vautier hives

We also visited the Darwin Field Station in the Abuko Nature Reserve with who BeeCause had started to work with. 

Small Reserve that has been very well taken care of and wish we would have spent more time here
Walking back into the field station
Variety of scenery!

We were told not to go too close as there were crocs in the water

All suited up to check capture hives and transfer them. Love this photo of the group!
And the highlight for me was visiting beekeepers Saikou Nyassi, Salifu Jarju, and Bakary Manga in Bwiam and visited there various apiaries (bee yards). The exposed nests and ground hive were quite interesting. 

Volunteers Jessica, Darrin, Dodo, Me and  Beekeeper Saikou. The banner says
"More frowning when you are working, and more smiling when you are eating!" in Jola
Ground hive that has been here for a few years!

Local Gambian beekeepers at a local market selling and explaining differences in honey quality and wax products

Local traditional log hives that are used occasionally to bait swarms
There are so many pictures! You can see more of them on my facebook album here.  This trip was the highlight of my service by far! Some of the volunteers I met on this trip were from Liberia, Guinea and Cameroon which were later evacuated due to ebola. It has been nice to keep in touch with them and see what they are doing now and pass along potential jobs that have seen. Can not wait for the chance to go back and see everyone there!!!

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