Ziegler in Kurobon­la, Sier­ra Leone dur­ing his time in the Peace Corp.

Get­ting stung is just part of it,” he quipped. But in the grand scheme of things, a sour sting now and then is well worth the sweet results Lloyd Ziegler of Man­n­ford, Okla­homa sees by vol­un­teer­ing his time as a bee­keep­ing con­sul­tant in Africa. As in many cas­es for entre­pre­neur­ial pur­suits, this is a hob­by turned pro­fes­sion that Ziegler became inter­est­ed in dur­ing his time in the Peace Corp while in Sier­ra Leone in 1969.

U.S Aid has become inter­est­ed in the prospect of help­ing these peo­ple in the rur­al areas by teach­ing them a method to turn the vast amounts of hon­ey pro­duced in those areas into a com­mod­i­ty that can improve their or even pro­vide par­tial finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty, Ziegler explained. He went on to say that one vil­lage can have as many as 100 bee­hives and those hives pro­duce so much hon­ey that the vil­lagers don’t know what to do with it. In short, many areas are poten­tial­ly rich with a prod­uct com­mod­i­ty but do not have the infra­struc­ture and knowl­edge to har­vest and mar­ket the com­mod­i­ty.

Fresh hon­ey­comb ready for pack­ag­ing.

As a bee­keep­er with over 40 years of expe­ri­ence and the suc­cess­ful busi­ness own­er of Ace Bee & Wasp, Con­trol, Ziegler is able to teach these peo­ple the meth­ods nec­es­sary to turn their liq­uid gold into a sweet nec­tar of poten­tial prof­it. Teach­ing oth­ers is yet anoth­er skill set he pos­sess­es as a for­mer math teacher. To give one the idea of how bad­ly these peo­ple need guid­ance in their quest to har­vest the poten­tials of bee­keep­ing, Ziegler said that when he first began going to Africa the vil­lagers were work­ing with the African killer bees with­out any pro­tec­tion what­so­ev­er. In fact, they were work­ing the hives at night in noth­ing but their under­wear.

Ziegler and a swarm of bees.

When I first saw them doing this, I thought to myself, these peo­ple aren’t bee­keep­ers, they are war­riors!” He fol­lowed this with a laugh, but one can cer­tain­ly see from this image the des­per­ate need these peo­ple have for guid­ance. He explained that these bee­keep­ers would get stung mul­ti­ple times and when they fin­ished the task of col­lect­ing the hon­ey, their wives would bathe them and pull the stingers out for them. This was a way of life for these peo­ple, he said. Anoth­er down­fall to the method of har­vest­ing the hon­ey in this man­ner is the fact that the bees would have to be killed. As ter­ri­ble as this is, the peo­ple had no oth­er choice since they did not have pro­tec­tive gear, he said.

By teach­ing them to har­vest with pro­tec­tive gear tech­nol­o­gy, Ziegler is slow­ly being able to pro­tect both the vil­lagers and the envi­ron­ment by sav­ing the bees. How­ev­er, for every solu­tion, there seem to be two new prob­lems as any busi­ness own­er can attest. Although Ziegler has been able to help increase pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing and pack­ag­ing present a whole new set of chal­lenges. In some areas, the avail­abil­i­ty of pack­ag­ing prod­ucts are not even avail­able and vil­lagers pro­cure used water bot­tles to place the hon­ey for sale. This is obvi­ous­ly not a viable or safe option to mar­ket on a large scale and one of the aspects that Ziegler is hop­ing to improve through his involve­ment with U.S. Aid. He hopes to con­tin­ue being a prob­lem solver for these peo­ple and giv­ing them new hope to taste the sweet rewards with­in their gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Adver­tise­ments

He was hon­ored with the Okla­homa Bee­keep­er of the Year award in 2012 and uses his 40 hives near Man­n­ford to pro­duce prod­ucts such as pollen, beeswax, propo­lis, and var­i­ous val­ue-added prod­ucts such as propo­lis tinc­ture and skin balms in addi­tion to hon­ey. To learn more about Ace, vis­it http://acebeeandwaspcontrol.com.

Adver­tise­ments

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