Dr. Michael Bauer, a family practitioner with Theda Care Physicians in Waupaca, is also an expert beekeeper.
He headed down to Haiti Monday, June 2, with Chad Carlson, of Carlson Construction of Madison, to work with the beekeepers of Haiti.
Their goal is to help Haitian beekeepers improve their queen bee selection as well as raising hygienic queen bees.
Healthier queen bees and improved genetics in the queens will strengthen the bee colonies, reduce hive loss thereby producing more honey.
Bauer and Carlson are on assignment for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Farmer-to-Farmer program.
Apiculture has been identified as a major focus by the Haitian government in its agricultural program. The need for pollination of trees and crops in view of the deforestation of the countryside as well as providing income for rural households is critical to the future of agriculture in Haiti.
For two weeks, Bauer and Carlson will work with 150 beekeepers throughout Haiti, teaching them how to identify, select and raise good, productive queens.
As a result of this “Train the Trainer” efforts, these 150 beekeepers will be able to teach another 750 beekeepers and thereby spreading the information and technical skills.
Haiti has a population of 10 million people and slightly larger than Vermont. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the world.
Annual per capita income in Haiti is $480. Fifty-four percent of the population lives in abject poverty. Only 53 percent of the population can read and write.
This is Bauer and Carlson’s first overseas assignment for the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program. Helping them navigate the system is Marty Havlovic, UW Extension educator in Marquette County and an experienced Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer.
Haiti was not their initial focus. Havlovic has been working with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program on a beekeeping project proposal in Nicaragua, where Bauer and Carlson were scheduled go this August.
But the need for American beekeeping experts overseas is so strong that Havlovic was contacted by USAID and asked if Bauer and Carlson would be interested in going down to Haiti immediately.
Bauer has been busy re-arranging his patient appointment schedule at the Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca as well as tending to his bee hives as he prepares for his trip to Haiti.
While he is going down there as a bee “expert” he knows that it will be a learning experience for him as well.
It’s his first trip to Haiti and offers him the opportunity to experience the people and culture of Haiti on a person-to-person basis.