Putting the Bee in JBFCAugust 4, 2014 5:00 pm
All of our farm staff is extremely excited about a new addition on the farm….HONEYBEES! Because of the generous donations we received during our annual KUWA fundraising event in Tulsa, OK and the Children of Africa Day gifts, we were able to raise enough money to buy hives, train a staff person in the art of beekeeping, and purchase the equipment necessary to start the process and keep it going.
JBFC’s assistant campus manager, Marcus, was very excited to head out for a week of beekeeper training earlier this summer in Central Tanzania. When he returned he brought back with him five hives, a “killer” bee outfit, and plenty of knowledge on how to raise honeybees and produce honey.
JBFC decided to pursue beekeeping when we realized how important bees are to the agricultural crops that we grow on campus and other crops around the world. According to the US Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate 80 percent of all flowering crops, which make up a third of the human diet. Cucumbers, passion fruit, papaya, okra, tomatoes, onions, and sunflower seeds are just some of the foods that are grown on the JBFC campus that rely on bee pollination.
It’s easy to think that bees are such a nuisance with the buzzing noise they make in your ear and the welt they leave on your skin after a painful sting. Many people are quick to swat bees with the bottom of a flip-flop, but on a farm they’re essential partners in keeping our farm producing hundreds of pounds of fruit and veggies a week. At JBFC, we want to continue to feed our girls, staff and community with healthy food items that come straight from our garden. With an increase in bees on campus, we are increasing the amount of crops being pollinated and in time, will result in more fruits and vegetables for all of us to enjoy.
Another big benefit of raising honeybees is of course for the honey! Each of our five hives is estimated to produce 40-50 liters of honey each year.
Honey is a delicious natural sweetener so we plan to replace the normal sugars that the JBFC girls currently use in things like sweet tea, which they have almost every morning at breakfast. These sugars are a fairly large budget item for us, roughly $1,400 a year (that’s enough to pay for two girls to live at JBFC and attend school for the entire year).
Honey is also a healthier alternative to white sugar. Furthermore, many of our girls suffer from seasonal allergies. By consuming local honey, their bodies will slowly grow accustomed to the pollens and allergens in our area. All in all, having these bees on our campus is beneficial and profitable in many, many ways.
So, next time you visit the JBFC campus, you can look forward to a glass of honey tea that came straight from our farm!
Chris Gates is JBFC’s Founder & Executive Director.
This post was written by Mainsprings