“When MAP came, they showed us what we already knew, but highlighted exactly how to do it, and told us to listen to what nature was telling us”
--- Sutee Pankwan,
Head of Nai Nang apiculture group
The Mangrove Action Project has been collaborating with the people of Nai Nang village in Krabi Province, Thailand, to produce “Nai Nang Honey” from the surrounding mangrove forests while conserving them.
The bee keeping collective originated from a conservation group that worked to restore the mangrove forest surrounding their village, whilst using bees to assist with their pollination. In 2014, several members of the conservation group decided to form an apiculture group to generate alternative income from the honey products, with technical training and assistance from Mangrove Action Project. Today, the collective includes over 45 families who depend primarily on traditional small-scale fishing, and farming for their livelihoods.
The village now has more than 300 beehives and produced 270 kilos of raw, unpasteurized honey in 2015. Through workshops, the group has also learned to produce value-added products such as hand soap, shampoo, and conditioner with the honey, and a village Conservation Fund was established with 10% of all honey and honey product sales.
Today, the Nai Nang Apiculture Group has established a partnership with the Marriot Hotel. The honey is also showcased at the nearby Anantara Hotel’s breakfast buffets, with information about Nai Nang and its apiculture group. There are further plans to sell honey through their gift shop.
From Mangrove to Honey
All the honey from the Nai Nang apiculture group is sourced locally from wooden boxes which are colonized by wild bees (Apis cerana). Honey is harvested only once per year. The bees gather nectar from the seasonal flower blossoms of fruit orchards and a variety of mangrove species such as Avicennia alba, Flagellaria indica, Phoenix paludosa, Xylocapus moluccensis, and Sonneratia caseolaris (pictured right) . This unique combination of nectar gives the honey a distinctive taste that has a hint of sea salt.
Beginning the Journey in Ban Ta-Sanook
In March 2016 the experienced members of Nai Nang Village offered knowledge exchange training in an apiculture workshop for a neighboring village, Ban Ta-Sanook in Phang Nga province. Apiculture is just one of many community initiatives providing prosperity while preserving and enhancing the ecosystem services of mangroves, and Ta-Sanook is only at the beginning of their journey. The next step is building the wooden bee boxes so that wild bees can naturally colonize them. Their mangrove site also includes a 70 meter Mangrove Interpretative Nature Trail which which is a great asset for visitors and an Environmental Education program taking place in local schools. The ultimate aim is that the twinned communities are able to support each other in their apiculture enterprises.