The Kiwot Bee Keepers: Dedicated Champions of the Fragile Bee Ecosystem.
Before the discovery of their healing honey and their pollinating power, the tiny Trigona stingless bees of Bohol (or ‘kiwot’ as locally known) were thought of as pests. After all, they were as small as flies, they did not sting, and were constantly ‘feasting’ on all the crops. Also, their hives did not look anything like the usual bee hives.
So the farmers got rid of them, often using pesticides to eliminate the bees and other crop ‘bugs.’ Little did the growers realise that the bees were nature’s miracle workers – pollinating and cultivating more crops, as well as producing among the world’s best honey.
Fortunately, through the efforts of GTCL and other companies focused on sustainable farming, these independent and small community farmers are now encouraged to keep the bees and cultivate the bee-pollinated crops.
In addition, they are educated about the long term positive effects of organic farming (tropical biodiversity, among others) versus a prior dependence on pesticides.
But this entails much sacrifice on their end. Often these kiwot keepers forgo the quicker returns from the shorter growing periods afforded by pesticide-assisted farming. It takes them a longer time to realise profits from these crops, and more patience and dedication to grow bees with a naturally delicate ecosystems.
This is why GTCL is committed to support these unsung heroes.
We help them by funding educational drives, equipment purchases, process training and the purchase of more raw materials needed for rearing bees.
By encouraging them to opt for organic farming, we are also helping them to end the cycle of poverty set up by traders who lend them money for buying pesticides in exchange for produce with little to no markup left for the farmers.
More Trigona bees also means more cross-pollinated and healthier crops, which can only help preserve tropical biodiversity, and provide more varied ways for the community to earn from their crops.
Additionally, we are also engaging communities of women to help in pili processing, after their husbands or sons are done growing and cracking them out of their hard shells.
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