Community Learning

Natural Beekeeping Initiative Apijanda

Apijanda is a community driven initiative based on education and holistic beekeeping practices. Our work stems from an understanding of the bee colony as a super-organism, a social unit comprised of many organisms that have specialized jobs that contribute to the whole being. Our interest lies in supporting the natural processes of this being in order to ensure it’s survival and health.

In March 2015 in collaboration with Asociación AA.VV Pedro Esquivel in Santa Lucia, we began with our first beekeeping workshop imparted to a group of 13 local people. The theoretical sessions began with providing the group with background information on honeybee biology as well as looking at a multitude of alternative styles of hives that enable the bees to build natural comb. We created the area’s nectar flow calendar based on people’s observations of available flowering plants and trees throughout the year. We proceeded to provide a detailed description of the legal requirements for keeping bees as well as the necessary paperwork, as well as detailed information on pathogens and what to look for when observing the hives. Since then we’ve established on-going, periodic beekeeper’s meetings, visiting participant’s apiaries, checking on the various colonies that have been established. Novice beekeepers are becoming more confident and are collectively learning from each other’s experiences. It is evident that close bonds are forming between members of this community, sharing enthusiasm and love towards the honeybee. A common thread in all of our meetings is always a sense of warmth and connection. The pioneering group formed after the first workshop named itself Apijanda after the region’s name La Janda. It is attracting new members through the various talks and workshops that are organised, and is in the process of forming an association (a charity).

Where we are

We are based in a rural area where traditional knowledge and some traditional farming practices can still be found. Vejer de la Frontera is a hilltop town in Southern Andalucia with a rich history dating back to the late Bronze age. It is said that ”Beser’s people, inhabitants of Vejer in the times of Tartessos, were true and faithful descendants of the old Tartessan King Gargoris, who first learned how to domesticate the humble bee, and for many centuries to come, the town would bear the nickname Vejer of the honey” (Jacky Cornwall, Vejer de la Frontera: A history). The village of San Ambrosio, which lies on the foothills of Vejer also has historical connection to the production and processing of honey. Roman remains from the 1st to 4th centuries AD have been found at the site of the Ermita de San Ambrosio where it is possible that beeswax, and other bee products were processed. In more recent history, up until about forty years ago, cylindrical cork hives were traditionally used in the area, harvested from the endemic cork oak trees abundant in the region. These hives were traditionally inherited from one generation to the next. When a son got married left his family home, he would take a few of his father’s hives with him to pollinate his new huerta (vegetable plot).

History research has helped to visualize what types of innovations can be introduced in the area to improve the health of bees.

Common Objectives

  • To develop the Apijanda learning community, initiated after the first Natural Beekeeping workshop held in March 2015 in Santa Lucía (Vejer de la Frontera), based on experimentation and collective gathering of knowledge.
  • To provide support to novice beekeepers, encouraging the learning process through periodic follow-up visits to group member’s apiaries.
  • To study, promote and disseminate the methods and philosophy of natural beekeeping.
  • Help members raise strong bee populations with the aim of stimulating colony health rather than beekeeping for economic gain.
  • To deepen and disseminate knowledge about the colony’s biology and social organization. Understanding the honeybee colony as a super-organism and seeking holistic ways to support the natural processes of this organism in order to ensure its health.
  • Promote the natural pollination of orchards and vegetable gardens.
  • Participate actively in the construction of different hive prototypes in workshops organised and run by group members.
  • Establish a group available to collect swarms.
  • Support the artist residencies, through an open communication with the Bee Time coordinating team.

First Natural Beekeeping Workshop, March 2015