- Life Stories 2: Beekeeping Improving Lives -
From Gold Mine to Golden Honey
U Hein Htun (Male, 42) from Htal-Toon village was working in a nearby goldmine before the Plan Bee project. He managed to make a living, but the work was very tough. Long hours, hard manual labour, and of course harsh environmental conditions made work miserable at times. Looking into the future, gold mining was not a sustainable livelihood at a much older age, but without land he felt like he had no option. Upon hearing about our beekeeping project he became interested instantly.
He took beekeeping very seriously, motivated by his desire to find a different source of income. He made solid money from beekeeping in the second year, and decided it was time to leave his mining job. In only two years he was ready to become a full-time beekeep
er. Excitedly, he invested his money earned from selling honey to the project-run ARBC (Apiculture Resource and Business Centre), which helped him to cover the cost of migrating his beehives to suitable bee pastures. He migrated with the TAG team to the Bago region, where he stayed with three other Tag beekeeping groups and Tag’s field staff.
He is extremely happy with his new livelihood. The money is better, with ample opportunities to grow his business. In addition, he feels his health improving, and is enjoying work. Instead of long hours in the mines he gets to travel the country with his new friends. The future seems much brighter now; his new line of work does not take the physical toll of mining and he is confident he can perform it for years to come. He said that he could have never imagined two years ago that he would improve his standards of living so drastically. U Hein Htun is truly passionate about beekeeping, he is eager to teach others his new skills and voiced a desire to be a trainer in future session we hold. He wants others from similar backgrounds to be able to enjoy the benefits of beekeeping as well.
Tag’s New Bee Queens
Khin Than Moe (Female, 21) is a got involved in the project because she was interested in Beekeeping. At first only a couple male villagers were active in the beekeeping group; the rest did not quite understand beekeeping. Comprehending the benefits of honey production, the female members all decided to “encourage one another to get more involved”. They were eager to become beekeepers, and motivated each other to attend meetings, confident that the women could participate in beekeeping as well!
Due to the realities of beekeeping in Myanmar, the roles for men and women are often different – but both are engaged and benefiting from the potential that beekeeping has to offer. While the men conduct the migration, the women take the lead in honey flows within Shan State. Women are also most involved in producing honey by-products.
For Khin Than Moe, being part of a beekeeping community “suits us well,”. as she gets to share out tasks with her peers and allows them to share knowledge and ideas. Knowing that she has a new support mechanism in the community gives her confidence. With that said she hopes that they all become professional beekeepers, with each household owning beehives. This dream, she explained, is achievable thanks to the training and support of PlanBee.
She explains that the beekeeping group has generated crucial extra-income from honey production. This money is spent on “feeding our families, and caring for those who are sick”. They produced the largest amount of honey out of all the groups, which they attribute to “hard work, and turning one member into a full time beekeeper”. The group keeps a fund to invest in related expenses, notably migration. Recently a member suffered a medical emergency and its fund was use to help cover the treatment costs. Without the extra income generated through the project, this would have been a burden on the community. “Before Plan-Bee I could not help community members with such ease, it feels great to have extra income to be able to support the community”.