Introducing bee keeping to indigenous Karen refugee & displaced people has me planning NOW and thinking about long term food supply for the bees in the years ahead. In the pristine jungles along the Thai Burma border, the wild bees naturally hibernate and live off the honey in their hives when there is little food about.
Our challenge is to extend those periods of flowering available food sources by carefully adding flowering trees around the edges of refugee camps, settlements and small villages, and community places like the grounds of the new Karen State Field Hospital. Tree planting is needing to be far more strategic, as we want to include trees that possibly also have secondary income possibilities, like fruits that can be harvested & sold, leaves that might be dried and used for herbal products, or seeds that can be sold and used for oil pressing.
The rugged mountains along the Thai-Burma border are temperate sub-tropical rain forest, but many of the trees you will see me posting about CAN and DO grow in other countries, like Northern Australia, Florida and South America, as well as India, parts of Africa and countries like Bangladesh - basically anywhere along the sub-tropical equatorial belt.
Why are we trying to augment nature's year-round floral food supply? Because, unlike the bees, the Karen refugee people DON'T have a stash of food or community to feed off, they NO LONGER have United Nations Food Aid and it's still IMPOSSIBLE for them to return to their native lands inside Burma, where the 60+ year civil war drags on. It's NOT newsworthy by western standards, but it's ongoing and terrible. Hundreds of thousands of people without homes, permanent villages or food security. My company, Pure Thai Natural Co Ltd, has developed the Organic Frontiers project in collaboration with the Karen Department of Health and Welfare and the Karen National Union to provide sustainable and organic micro-enterprise opportunities to people from these displaced communities. The beeswax used in our Intensive Skin Repair Balm, lip balms, sports rubs, tattoo after care balms and our super-popular Foot Repair Balm use beeswax hand-harvested by these displaced people. And with the cash we pay them for it, they are beginning to have some food security for themselves and their children.
It's a tiny beginning; a drop in an ocean of need.
So, back to selecting our priority trees.
The first tree we chose was the Indian Cork Tree. Trees for Bees #1: Indian Cork Tree.
And our second was the gorgeous Cassia fistula Linn.
Trees for Bees #2: Cassia
Today I'm excited about #3: Vernonia Amygladina, better known as the Bitter Leaf. It's an ASTOUNDING natural medicine plant!!
I have posted before about the miracle of a plant that boosts libido AND boosts immune system. Research has found it to be highly effective for:
serious viral infections including HIV
bacterial and protozoal infections
diabetes and cholesterol management
AND it boosts libido? I can FEEL the Earth Goddess smiling!
You can read a whole lot more about this amazing plant here: Boost my libido AND my immune system? The Nigerian miracle medicine plant that grows like a weed in Thailand
What I had never really grasped before yesterday, is what an incredibly powerful BEE TREE it also is!! The air today is scented with nectar and the bees are incredibly happy.
Best part? This large-shrub-tree thrives on neglect.
Take a few moments to enjoy the Vernonia which has erupted into bloom into my garden, and just the lovely sight of happy little Asian Honey Bees, doing their thing.