Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bees! They're Everywhere!

It is no longer the rainy season, which means we no longer have weird things growing on us, can sleep inside, and the humidity level is back down to zero!  The weather is nice now and we are very happy to have left the humid rainy season behind us.  And as the rainy season ended, it became time to clean up some bee hives and put out new boxes for this dry season.  A third year Peace Corps Volunteer and his Gambian counterpart came out to our village for 4 days to inspect hives, harvest honey, and help clean up the apiaries (bee compounds).  Luis joined us for parts of the four days and was so impressed with the training that afterwards he told Ben he wanted him to be his ‘Project Manager’ of the bee project. 
Luis, his shirt says 'Crazy white person' in mandinka


The bee's didn't like this box so they started making their hive in the tire!

Luis can somehow smoke through his suit without getting stung - talent.


And that is the story of how Ben and I inherited 100 bee hives in the African bush, with about 25 colonized hives.  That is to say, we have our work cut out for us now.  Our host dad, Lamin, is working with us on the project and is getting paid a very good Gambian salary of 100 dalasi a day (or about 3.5 USD’s).  We were a little nervous about this at first because Luis has a very western mentality of work and our villagers….well, they do not seem to share this mentality (weird, I know right). But Ben has done a good job of explaining to Lamin exactly what Luis expects of him and how to make Luis happy, and what would make Luis not happy.  Such as, not showing up for work for 4 days like another villager who was previously working with us on the bee project.   Not only will Lamin be getting paid here in village rather than him having to go fishing in the river or Senegal, but he will learn how to bee keep which could lead to a profitable side business now or business when we nor Luis are here.  Right now, however, his sole interest is the 100 dalasi a day, and it looks like all three of us will be busy with bee work up until the next rainy season.  We are enjoying this project and Luis is having a bee specialist from Spain come out next week for a whole month, which is fantastic – except the specialist doesn’t speak a lick of English!  So we will most likely speak to him in a nice mixture of mandinka, English, French, Spanish, and hand gestures.  We are still excited about this because he has over 500 colonized hives in Spain and we’ll learn a lot from him regardless of the language barrier.  And working with Luis is pretty fun too, he’s led an interesting life and we just can’t wait to tell ya’ll all the stories he’s told us! He’s lived in Canary Islands, Mozambique, Malawi, Costa Rica, and Spain the past 30 years and has traveled the world on ships as well.  There is rarely a dull day with Luis!  Also, he frequently blasts Pink Floyd out of his land rover coming into the village and when he gets out of the car yells ‘HEY Teacher, Leave those kids alone!’ to the Gambian children standing by in shock. 

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