Douglas Johnson, a beekeeper from Northeast Washington, taught locals in Ghana about beekeeping. Johnson works as a facilitator with Steele Apiaries, which is a commercial beekeeping organization in Idaho, and his job is to assure the safety of the yards. There are 25 bee yards that contain around 600 total colonies. In return for his services, a share of the honey crop is packaged and sold to local markets under Johnson’s Pure Honey label.
While working as a beekeeper, Johnson is also developing honeybees strains from the Washington State University survivor stock. This university collects bees with desirable survival traits, with the particular stock Johnson uses being from the Pacific Northwest. Every year, Johnson and his bees face some obstacle whether it’s dealing with pests, disease, extreme weather conditions, or genetically modified foods. However, dealing with so many issues has led to Johnson becoming a beekeeping expert. Because of this, he decided to share his knowledge by volunteering to travel to other countries to teach beekeeping practices.
For three weeks, Johnson was on an assignment in Obuasi, Ghana as a part of the Farmer to Farmer program, which addresses agriculture and food security projects. This program uses United States volunteer assistance and involves eight other organizations. One of those organizations include the ACDI/VOCA, an economic development organization that fosters economic growth, raises living standards, and creates vibrant communities. The organization incorporates programs in West Africa, Europe, and Central Asia to allow others to share their expertise.
Through this program, Johnson was sent to work with the Obuasi Beekeepers Association (OBA) in Ghana. The organization started operating in 2014 with only 14 farmers. Now, the OBA has doubled and has 30 farmers within the organization. The main objective of the association is to improve the livelihood of local beekeepers and surrounding communities. As per the Farmers to Farmers program, beekeeping is the main economic activity of the OBA, and individual members each have up to 58 hives a piece.
Admittedly, many members have stated that they have trouble attracting bees and colonizing their hives. Even members who have colonized successfully have had trouble sustaining colonies after a few harvests. To help with the trial and error, the OBA requested an apiarist. The organization requested someone who had experience with similar troubles, and they soon began working with Johnson. While in Ghana, Johnson spent his time recommending the best practices to improve honey production and other bee products, sharing his expertise in the best possible way.
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