The Nicaragua Bee Project was recognized as the New Project of the Year by Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partners.
Accepting the award at a Nov. 22 annual meeting in Stevens Point were Dr. Michael Bauer with Thedacare Physicians in Waupaca and Marty Havlovic with the University of Wisconsin Extension in Marquette County.
The Nicaragua Bee Project works with men and women in rural Nicaragua teaching them the basics of beekeeping and helping them become beekeepers.
Currently the project is working with 20 beekeepers in two communities. The goal is to train 100 beekeepers in five communities in 2015.
Beekeeping offers economic opportunities for the rural people of Nicaragua.
The average annual income in rural Nicaragua is less than $400. The initial investment of $150 for a beehive and colony of bees is minimal and one does not need a lot of expensive equipment or supplies to be a beekeeper.
Beekeepers also do not need to own land to have bees. Beehives can be placed on public lands or private lands as landowners welcome the bees for pollination.
One beehive can produce $160 of honey annually, thereby increase the family income considerably.
Bauer is educational coordinator for the project providing the technical and educational expertise while Havlovic is project coordinator in charge of the overall project. Currently they are working with USAID to expand the project in Nicaragua under Farmer-to-Farmer funding.
Funds from the sale of Nicaragua coffee will be used to provide beekeeping starter kits for those unable to afford the $120 initial cost.
Local residents who want to help can purchase Nicaraguan coffee at the Main Street Marketplace in downtown Waupaca. Proceeds from the sale of each pound of coffee will go toward the purchase of a beekeeping kit.
People may also sponsor a Nicaraguan beekeeper for a $150 donation.