Beekeeping is Cathy Shaw’s passion. She has found that most beekeepers feel the same way she does, and this was no exception in the Dominican Republic. Shaw helped beekeepers raise healthy and strong beehives as a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer in June 2019.
For two weeks, Shaw visited many farms and opened multiple beehives, spoke with and encouraged local and new beekeepers, tasted lots of amazing honey, and found some easily fixable problems with hive management. She presented a workshop on basic beekeeping, honey marketing, and entrepreneurship. In total, 90 people attended the workshop with the purpose of better preparing new beekeepers and teaching new techniques for others that already keep hives.
Shaw also held a demonstration in a bee yard to introduce new beekeepers to the wonderful world of beekeeping. She showed them the first-hand inside workings of a beehive, including how bees bring pollen and nectar into the hive and the pests that haunt weak hives.
Shaw’s local hosts in Jarabacoa were from Fundación REDDOM, an organization “committed to the promotion of rural economic development, adaptation to climate change, environmental sustainability, food security, and nutrition in rural communities” in the Dominican Republic. The two women who run the foundation are amazing forces of energy and love, according to Shaw. Yocelin Garcia and Yaneris Collado care so much about the people of this province and their success as beekeepers and farmers.
After visiting all of the hives, Shaw and the women from REDDOM were asked to speak on a local radio show, “El Escandalo del Día” ("The Scandal of the Day” in English) about their experiences and how the hives were fairing in Jarabacoa.
At the end of her trip, Shaw gave recommendations to the farmers, including growing hives so bees do not get overheated and giving them plenty of room, so they do not swarm. Most of all, a strong hive of friends is needed to grow your honey business. The beekeepers were excited to implement the changes she suggested. As she told them, beekeeping is a constant experiment and finding what works for each hive is part of that experiment.
Shaw was ecstatic to work in the Dominican Republic, where she says it is bee heaven. There is no shortage of food for bees and humans alike with such an abundance of fruit and vegetables.
If the hives are well maintained, honey could become a major product of the Dominican Republic, according to Shaw. If it does, it is a delicious addition to the abundance of the island.