Hello friends, family, friends of family, farmers, bee folks, and other acquaintances!!
Workin’ on my third week here in Mexico, so I guess it’s time to boot up the ol’ travel blog. For those of you who don’t know, I’m in Mexico on a Fulbright fellowship, a 9-month research project, investigating the organic beekeeping movement here in Chiapas. I’ll be teaming up with the Bee Team at the local university for the next few months, then heading out to the field to work directly with beekeepers.
Beekeeping is so different down here. Though there are some large honey producers, most are small-scale, second-job operations, working Africanized bees in some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. A good place to implement organic standards in beekeeping (more reasons why http://www.apidologie.org/articles/apido/full_html/2010/03/m09133/m09133.html). My intention is to learn about the beekeepers’ perspectives- what motivates beekeepers to adopt organic practices? what obstacles do they face? and how can scientists and technicians best support this transition?
Here’s where I’m at so far: spent my first week participating in the Bee Team’s annual organic beekeeping training course. Beekeepers, bee “vets” and honey packers from all over Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador gathered for lectures, discussions, and field work. There was a strong focus on agro-ecology, on conservation consciousness that includes (but is not limited to) organic practices.
Still settling in to the city here. Not sure about culture shock, but I’ll admit that after almost three weeks I’m still surprisedeveryone’s speaking in Spanish. Days are made up of small victories and minor set-backs. Like figuring out that I can buy eggs less than 18 at a time (traveler tip: just ask for however many eggs you want). Set-backs like falling off the sidewalks all the time because of the slippery rain and my lack of walking focus.
Overall, all is well. Lots to learn! Like, our avocado tree produces licorice-flavored avocados, and there are licorice plants planted all around the base of the tree. Could that be why??