Slowly the man in the white suit slinks closer to the fallen tree. Smoke is coming from the can in his hand. Hands, face, head are covered. He blows his smoke in the tree, calming down the bees that live in it. Than he takes his machete and sticks it in the tree. A few seconds later, he holds a big honeycomb in his hands and puts it carefully in a bucket. It’s time for harvesting honey at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco hotel.
The man in white, Santos Garcia, is the local imker at La Mariposa. Eight years ago, in 2007, five farmers in the community of La Sabanita, close to Laguna de Apoyo, started a project called Apicola Ecologic Reserve Association as a means of self-finance. A part of the finances comes through producing natural, organic honey; used for cooking and medicinal properties.
From May to October the workers clean the area on the reserve, maintain the wooden hives and nourish the bees with a sugar jelly. From December through April they harvest the honey, because this is the peak flowering season in the forest. The bees produce 400 liters of honey every year in the 20 wooden hives. One of those hives is on the land of La Mariposa, although the bees choose to live this year in the fallen tree next to it.
The profit of the sale of the honey go partly to the maintenance of the reserve and partly to the families of the beekeepers.
By planting more trees and flowers on the grounds of La Mariposa, the Spanish school and Eco-hotel tries to help the bees, because bees are still dying off at an worrisome rate. Beest play a major role in the food chain. They pollinate plants and trees, like apples, almonds, watermelons and beans. Scientists, consumer groups and beekeepers around the world say the devastating rate of bee deaths is partly due to the growing use of pesticides sold by agrochemical companies to boost yields of staple crops such as corn. La Mariposa may work on a small scale, but by planting trees and flowers, buying products locally and by growing their own vegetables and fruits, they try to help bees to survive.