Osun State in southwestern Nigeria is lush, its rolling hills clad in low forests, cacao stands, and fields of corn, yam, pepper and cassava. Oil palms dot the landscape, and the bright reddish oil extracted from the palm’s pulp can be bought at any roadside stand. It also happens to be a great area for raising bees, which is why I was there.
For 10 days in late June, I worked with faculty from Osun State Polytechnic (OSPoly) and community members from the nearby town of Iree as a volunteer for the USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program. OSPoly is in the opening stages of establishing an agriculture program, so I came to teach a short beekeeping course, establish an apiary and help the staff develop a curriculum.
We learned about bee behavior and hive management, practiced rendering wax and making secondary hive products, built a smoker, stalked bees and talked honey.
It was wonderful to share my passion for bees and beekeeping with such an interested and excited group of staff, students and community members. And the assistance and friendship of Winrock International’s Nigeria staff made the trip a true pleasure. I look forward to keeping in touch with the staff at OSPoly as they continue to get their beekeeping program up and running.