PARTNERS OF THE AMERICAS, Farmer to Farmer
Volunteers: Bob Cole and Ann W. Harman
Country: El Salvador
Project Name: Beekeeping
Dates of Travel: February 21 – March 6, 2003
Previous Farmer to Farmer Impacts and Current Conditions
In El Salvador beekeeping projects have been very few—only two previous ones. Two
years ago Ann Harman, one of the 2003 volunteers, visited beekeepers in several regions
and gave recommendations. Some of those beekeepers were revisited in 2003. In those
bee yards it was evident that some equipment had been improved and the knowledge of
bees had advanced. During the 2000 visit an introduction to beekeeping was given to the
residents of the village of San Isidro where beekeeping was not part of agriculture.
Today San Isidro has 8 beekeepers who have harvested their first crop of honey.
Furthermore, the farmers now have increased pollination of crops, such as melons and
Bee yards in each of three areas were visited with the technico of the particular area.
After these inspections, three meetings were held with the three associations of
beekeepers. The presentations concerned improvement of equipment and beehive
placement. Also included were discussions of stock improvement, parasites and risks of
bee import. Two days of “training the trainers” were held to present future projects to
the technicos. These hold regular training sessions with the beekeepers, so that
information left with the technicos can be passed on to beekeepers.
A hands-on session for technicos on queen rearing should begin within about 6 to 8
months. Since correct hive construction was a major part of this assignment, follow-up
would show whether beekeepers were using the training. Progress of the new
beekeepers in San Isidro and other areas should be evaluated for quality of hives and
hive placement in about 12 months. The technicos can use repetition of the training to
encourage progress. For stock improvement, queen rearing should be done in the
cooperative apiary located at Hacienda San Mauricia, Tecapan.
Purpose and Objectives
• To discover problems with beekeeping in three areas surrounding San Miguel,
• To review the progress of the new beekeepers of San Isidro and provide them
• To present to the technicos information on different products for future
• pollen collection and processing
• propolis collection and processing
• royal jelly production and processing
• venom—use of live bees for treatment of arthritis
• To introduce colony selection for
• less defensive bees
• increased production per hive
• To train technicos in methods of queen production and to increase honey and
hive product production
• CENTA—Centro Nacional de Technologia Agropecuaria y Forestal (Center for
Technology for Agriculture and Forestry)
Technicos directly involved:
• CONAPIS—a country-wide association of beekeepers
• Beekeepers of San Miguel area, including Usulatan and Morazan
• Visited 12 representative apiaries (bee yards) served by three technicos to
observe management practices
• Held seminar at Usulatan for beekeepers in Eduardo’s area: 20 men, 1 woman
• Held seminar in Gotera for beekeepers in Florentin’s area: 26 men, 1 woman
• Held seminar in San Miguel for beekeepers in Luis’s area: 14 men, 4 women (3
are sisters replacing elderly father in beekeeping)
• Held seminar in San Miguel with 14 technicos, including Eduardo, Florentin,
• Held seminar in San Salvador with 8 technicos from the western part of El
• The three seminars with beekeepers centered on
• correct measurement of hive parts
• correct construction of hive parts
• removal of plastic sheets on top of hives
• placement of hives in bee yard
• improvement in gentleness and colony production with careful
selection of currently available queens
• parasite control and disease recognition
• recognition of need for increasing equipment for honey storage within
• cautions against importing disease and other serious problems with
importation of queens from the USA
Women are definitely in the minority. Those few who are involved are interested and
will benefit from the training. However, cultural traditions will prevent many women
from becoming beekeepers although beekeeping fits well with women’s traditional
Observations and Accomplishments
• Beekeepers must continue to be trained in the basics of hive improvement if
they wish to increase production and move on to producing other hive
products, such as pollen. Using correct measurements does not cost money;
instead, it increases production.
• Both the seminars with beekeepers and the bee yard visits reinforced the 2000
assignment recommendations of hive and stock improvement.
• A collection of catalogs and pamphlets (two in Spanish) were left with the
technicos. In addition a set of instructional prints was left with CONAPIS
to augment their teaching sessions.
Changes from Previous Volunteer Visits
Since only two beekeeping volunteers have worked in El Salvador, quantifying
results is difficult. However the change at San Isidro from no beekeepers to 8
who have just harvested honey is indicative of progress in that area. There are
indications of more beginning beekeepers in various areas. Interest in improving
equipment was evident. However, if the beekeepers are not convinced through
the efforts of technicos, then progress will be slow.
• Hands-on training for the technicos in queen rearing will enable the beekeepers
to improve their stock. This project could begin within a year, preferably at the
time of maximum nectar flow when queen rearing is more successful. Queens
from the gentle, productive stock from the cooperative at Hacienda San
Mauricia, Tecapan, should be used.
• Progress with the San Isidro beekeepers could be assessed within a year.
• A volunteer visit within a year could determine if any beekeepers would be
ready to progress to producing other hive products.
Recommendations or Comments
• The technicos are very capable of excellent training sessions. They should be
provided with any training materials needed. The book, Aopicultura, by
Salomon Handal, should be provided as their textbook.
• If necessary, funds should be provided for acquiring Handal’s book—one for
The Farmer to Farmer Program
Like many other Farmer to Farmer assignments we see how much backing there is
for our work with bees and how little the El Salvador campesinos have. The
Farmer to Farmer program needs to continue so that beekeepers have the
opportunity to progress in a land that can provide them an income with their
Our Appreciation and Thanks
We would like to thank the Peace Corp volunteer, William Ryan Hamlet, who
ably developed the assignment. Appreciation and thanks are given to the three
technicos, Luis, Eduardo and Florentin, for their excellent work both with us and
with the beekeepers of their regions. We recommend that all be given any
assistance they require.