by Nicole Wines
Raíces Cultural Center has teamed up with TaínaSoy Apiario Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy to provide fiscal sponsorship for the awarding of a Bee Cause Foundation grant. The Bee Cause Project empowers students, teachers, and community members to experience the wonder, ingenuity, beauty, and power of the honey bee and we are grateful to have their support in kickstarting the Save the PR Bee Program at TaínaSoy Apiario in Aguada, Puerto Rico.
TaínaSoy Apiario, an apiary with over 20 beehives, is located in Aguada, Puerto Rico. TaínaSoy is one of the organizations to which Raíces provided relief and recovery support after the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane María on the island of Puerto Rico. As Raíces set out to support organizations, groups and individuals working to rebuild in a sustainable, renewable and resilient way, we were introduced to the Chaparro family, who run TaínaSoy Apiario and their new Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy (TSAISEC). After our initial direct relief phase, we built a support partnership with TaínaSoy as they work towards creating their own 501(c)3 organization. Keeping with the goals of our own Eco-Culture program branch, which has an Apiculture Initiative, this grant project was a perfect fit for the mission and goals of Raíces and provides support to a new and budding organization working hard to save, support and educate about the Puerto Rican bee.
TaínaSoy Apiario is home to the first Earthship on the island of Puerto Rico, which is currently under construction. When complete, the 5 sustainably built structures will serve as an ecological and community education center. The first building of this school is already complete and will be dedicated entirely to apiculture and pollinator education. This will be the site of the Save the PR Bee project, where TaínaSoy will be offering an on-site youth and family educational program about beekeeping and the importance of the bees. The grant awarded by the Bee Cause Foundation will be used to purchase gear and equipment for use by participants of the program, including safety suits, hats, veils, gloves, hive tools, brushes and other supplies.
Participants will attend this full family program, on-site at TaínaSoy Apiario twice a month. Educational lessons and hands-on activities will be led by TSAISEC co-founder and director, and the Save the PR Bee program bee advocate Noemi Chaparro, and supplemented by guest instructors, other local bee keepers and related field trips. In addition to basic beekeeping and honeybee life cycle education, participants will have hands on interactions with the hive and will also create projects to educate the surrounding community about the importance of bees and other pollinators. This will be an ongoing program that will expand to serve as a model for bee and pollinator programs to be offered in local schools starting in the 2019-2020 school year.
Outdoor hives are located throughout the apiary’s 3 acres and participating children will take part in hands-on interaction with the hives, including placement of new hives as additional swarms are rescued by the apiary’s bee mentor, resident beekeeper, and co-founder of TSAISEC, Carlos Chaparro, throughout the course of the program. Interactive activities and lessons will include topics such as:
- Life cycle of the honeybees
- Bee safety
- The importance of pollinators in the natural ecosystem and agricultural systems
- Bee box construction (Langstroth)
- Care of bee boxes and hives and hive checkups
- Planting for pollinators
- Creation of educational materials like posters and pamphlets by participants on importance of bees to share in the community
- The specific importance of the Puerto Rican honeybee to the recovery of the island of Puerto Rico
- Pollinator protection
Congratulations are in order for TaínaSoy Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Conservancy for being awarded the first grant that they ever applied for! We are happy to have worked with them on this grant and hope that this process will help fan the flames for a successful program and future for TSAISEC and for the Puerto Rican Honeybee!