Bangladesh Field Team reflects on the successful impacts F2F has had on the Bangladesh Association for Social Advancement (BASA).
“F2F assistance helped with specialty knowledge related to beekeeping including honey, pollen and royal jelly production. It has been immensely beneficial. The benefits continue as the trained people have trained others.” – AKM Shirajul Islam, Executive Director
Pollen production can be an excellent opportunity for the beekeepers of Bangladesh to maximize profitability and obtain sustainability, however, given the lack of knowledge and skills to produce high-value bee-products including, high-quality honey, the potential benefit of beekeeping as a business has not realized.
Currently, Bangladeshi beekeepers are extracting only honey and wax from their beehives, whereas they can easily collect other high-value bee-products, like pollen. Pollen is an important high-value bee-product for its nutritional and medicinal benefit to human health and more importantly, for its use as nutritious bee feed. Bees feed on honey and pollen during the flowering seasons of nectar-bearing plants, usually eight months out of the year in Bangladesh. The beekeepers suffer high costs to feed their bees in the flowering offseason. In that period, they use sugar syrup and pollen substitute, which do not provide good nourishment for their bees. As a result, the beekeepers lose a significant number of bees, ultimately affecting their honey production and profitability. When the bees collect nectar from flowers, they bring along pollen trapped on their legs which they use inside the hives to make their food. Pollen can be collected easily using traps at the entrance of beehives. Collection of these pollen grains using a pollen trap can help the beekeepers gain additional benefits from beekeeping which will lead to better sustainability for their business. Beekeepers can use a portion of the collected pollen to feed the bees in the offseason and sell the rest to earn additional income.
Having worked a long time to improve beekeeping and organize beekeepers in order to develop a strong apiary industry, the NGO, Bangladesh Association for Social Advancement (BASA), realized the potential of collecting and processing pollen to help strengthen beekeeping as a profitable business. As part of this initiative, and with the funding support of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), BASA worked with the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer, Michael Embrey, to train 64 BASA staff and their beneficiary beekeepers on the potential, collection and processing of pollen, making pollen traps, and the different uses of pollen. The volunteer brought three different types of pollen trap as samples from the US for demonstration and helped design and build pollen traps applicable for local beehives utilizing local materials and expertise. During the training, the volunteer demonstrated how to collect pollen using a locally made trap and how to process the collected pollen. In addition, the volunteer conducted training on the improved beekeeping, marketing and partnership development for enhancing beekeeping in Bangladesh.
After the F2F training, BASA built 118 pollen traps and distributed them among 118 beekeepers. BASA staff helped the beekeepers install the traps in their beehives and demonstrated the techniques of collection and processing pollen using F2F training information. Because of the endeavor, the beekeepers were able to collect 98 Kg pollen in the recent mustard flowering season from December 2017 to February 2018. The production level ranged from 0.65 to 1.5 Kg per beekeeper. This type of pollen production success is a first for the beekeepers in Bangladesh. With this success, the beekeepers are relieved from having to pay to feed their bees in the offseason and they are planning to expand their facility of pollen collection as well as explore access to local and export markets with the assistance of BASA in the next season. Mr. Jagadish Chandra Saha, an experienced Beekeeping Expert in the country and Consultant at BASA stated, “Based on F2F training we provided pollen traps and technical support to our beneficiary beekeepers and have had tremendous results from them in producing pollen. We hope to disseminate these techniques to a wider section of beekeepers. We’re confident that this will add a new dimension and help flourish the beekeeping industry in Bangladesh.”
According to Mr. Rezaul Karim, Value Chain Facilitator, BASA, the beekeepers who observed or heard about this success are very excited to install pollen traps in their beehives to collect pollen. BASA is planning to disseminate F2F volunteer techniques of pollen production to their 314 beneficiary beekeepers with special emphasis on young men and women in collaboration with PKSF, two other beekeepers welfare associations: Bangladesh Beekeepers Foundation and Mouchashi Kallyan Samities. Meanwhile, the Government of Bangladesh has emphasized to the Department of Agriculture Extension the desire to introduce beekeeping all over the country in order to increase oilseed production through bee pollination, as well as increase honey production to help increase food security. In this current context, the noble initiative of BASA is expected to expand beekeeping as a profitable and sustainable business and help create entrepreneurial opportunities for young, unemployed, rural men and women.