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RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN THE BEEKEEPING PRODUCTIVE CHAIN: A KEY OPPORTUNITY FOR SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN COLOMBIA

Place: colombia, South America
Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health
Total Budget: € 1.317.053,00 | Period: From September 2011 To

Summary

This program has been developed to strengthen beekeeping in Colombia, promoting good agricultural practices, making use of the knowledge and technologies developed in the National University of Colombia, in direct interaction with the producers, taking advantage of their experience in beekeeping and the remarkable associativity observed in this particular chain, in order to improve market opportunities, enhance the sustainability of the sector and the quality of life of peasant.


The program has been focused on specific products: honey produced in apiaries from organic-certified coffee plantations, honey from native (stingless) bees; bee pollen from Cundiboyacense region and its inclusion in bakery products for obtaining functional food and mead; seeking to preserve or improve their physicochemical, microbiological and sensory quality and their bioactive properties, and to increase their value, competitiveness and the income at the rural level, without a negative environmental impact.

Partnership

Food Science and Technology Institute - Colombia

Lead applicant

The Institute of Food Science and Technology - ICTA is an academic inter-faculties unit of the National University of Colombia in Bogota and as such it constitutes an integrated program for carrying out general functions in the field of Science and Technology of Foodstuffs. To carry out its functions, the Institute develops research, teaching and extension activities in the areas of meat-derived products, dairy products, vegetables and fruit-derived products, bee products and food quality assurance. For the implementation of its programs and activities ICTA counts on a stable basis of human resources, facilities and financial resources, as well as on contributions from international organizations through technical cooperation agreements.

Integral Beekeepers Cooperative of Huila - Colombia

Initiative partner

COAPI, was created on September 28, 2001, as a cooperative of private law, with non-profit and social purposes, with varying number of partners, counting currently 140 beneficiaries, who are small producers with bee hives located in different parts of Colombian Central and Eastern Cordillera, including the Colombian Massif and the Valley of the Magdalena river in the Huila department. The cooperative has a technical and management staff with an experience of more than three years in beekeeping. This cooperative, seeks to promote the comprehensive business development of beekeepers through the production, marketing, export of goods and/or related services, to local, national and international consumers demanding for organic bee products with quality, service excellence, respect, responsibility and compliance.

Beekeepers Association of Boyacá - Colombia

Initiative partner

The Association of beekeepers and bee breeders of Boyacá - ASOAPIBOY - born of the partnership of a dozen beekeepers who on January 25, 2002, signed the charter and gave legal life to this regional initiative. It is a nonprofit organization that helps to improve the lives of beekeepers partners through training, innovation and technological development, applied to associativity, productive and commercial processes. It is aimed also at strengthening beekeeping in the Boyacá department, Colombia and the world, increasing the supply of conventional and differentiated bee products and high quality nutraceuticals (nutritional and therapeutic) and strengthening the participativeness and the social fabric of the region.

Organic producers network of Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta - Colombia

Initiative partner

The Network of Ecological Farmers of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta -RED Ecolsierra, is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable integral development for the partner farmer and his family, through organic farming systems, with a qualified and committed human resource acting under the values and principles of the organization, for thus obtaining safe and high quality products for fair trade competitiveness at national and international levels. It also promotes the development and productivity of the farmers and the community in Magdalena department to improve the productive opportunities, including beekeeping in organic coffee plantations.

conservationists beekeepers association of sierra nevada of Santa Marta - Colombia

Initiative partner

It is a group of beekeepers with environmental and social scopes aimed at the implementation of plans to strengthen the sustainable productivity of groups of beekeepers located in watersheds in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region. They have rescued species of native bees and practice beekeeping of stingless bee species. APISIERRA family company, was born with the production and packaging of honey, harvested from their own apiaries located in an area in which, due to its high ecological interest, there are the most favorable conditions for extracting high quality honey. The wild vegetation, composed by many shrubs and aromatic herbs, is the basis of the richness of their products.

CEREZOS BEEKEEPING - Colombia

Initiative partner

Leading company of the Boyacá department in the production and marketing of bee pollen. Because of the natural wealth of plant resources of the area where it is located, the region is reported as one with the highest rates of production of bee pollen at nationally and internationally.

EL PINAR APIARIES AND COMPANY LTDA - Colombia

Initiative partner

Leading company in Colombia, producing and marketing both nationally and internationally, bee honey products and beekeeping tools, including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax and certified organic food products, addressed to consumers in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors interested in acquiring healthy and innovative products. The company operates under criteria of social responsibility and environmental concern, promoting and actively supporting the beekeeping activity in the country. The company is up to date on market trends and has state-of-the-art facilities for handling, storage and processing of bee products.

“Best practices for the sustainable development of the Colombian beekeeping productive chain”

Quality improvement of honeys in linkage to their geographical and entomological origin –for the first time in Colombia-; implementation of extraction, processing practices and storage, for compliance with quality requirements.


Improvement of practices and sustainability in the bee pollen extraction and processing: use of solar energy for drying process with savings of 90% in electricity consumption; design of drying and cleaning equipment, establishment of extraction protocols and formulation of technical standards for the quality of bee pollen.


Development of breads and crackers, fruit pulps and sauces, with pollen as an ingredient and its functional characteristics due to the high antioxidant activity and the presence of bioactive compounds.


Development of mead, obtained by fermentation of honey and of its mixture with regional typical fruits, which contributes to the diversification of higher added value products; design and construction of a pilot plant for mead production.

Bread with bee-pollen In order to get some food products with the functional characteristics of bee-pollen, such as vitamins and antioxidant activity, pollen was added to bread, in a special formulation with good sensory acceptance.
Crackers with bee-pollen In order to get some food products with the functional characteristics of bee-pollen, such as vitamins and antioxidant activity, pollen was added to crackers, in a special formulation with good sensory acceptance.
Dry equipment for bee-pollen This equipment was designed as part of the project to improve the process and save energy as well as to get a safety product.
Honey from Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta The bee honey harvested in apiaries from organic-certificated coffee plantations, was part of the project in order to get origin-linked food products with organic certification.
Impurity separation equipment This equipment was designed as part of the project to be included in the pollen transformation process, in order to obtain a safety product to be sold in the domestic market and overseas.
Mead the product obtained by fermentation of honey was developed at ICTA with native honeys and some exotic fruits, as a way to generated value-added products and increase the competitiveness of the sector.
Mead as a product The packaging and labeling of the mead is being developed in the project, in order to get a complete product, ready to be sold in different markets.
Mead production plant A design of the plant to produce mead was developed, to begin with the process in different regions such as Boyacá and Huila. This design was according to technical specifications, industrial safety and regulations for food processing.
Pollen benefit system Development of a benefit system to get dry bee-pollen with a specific conditions of processing according to the region and implementing the solar energy.
new solar dryer With the project the old solar dryer was modified to get a better equipmet with savings of energy, designed to get a quality product with all the specifications to be sold in different markets
old solar dryer One of the apiaries had an old solar dryer which was not enough efficient nor clean .

Obtaining bee products may constitute an activity that contributes to the food security of a country through its complex interaction with agriculture. The interest paid to bees as a "productive mean" allows for improving, in a sustainable way, the economic income in rural areas, in particular due to the fact that beekeeping is compatible with other agricultural activities, with no environmental impact, taking advantage of products that are valuable from the point of view of nutrition, pharmacology or industry. It also promotes environmental integrity of ecosystems, the development and diversification of markets of goods and services, with a consequent impact on the overall quality of life of the stakeholders.


In this context, through the partnership between universities, associations and cooperatives of beekeepers, the production and transfer of new knowledge has been encouraged, as a useful tool for improving the quality of bee products and positioning the productive chain.

Beekeepers work Working closely with beekeepers has enabled great advances in the project, all aimed at strengthening the sector, always with the support and willingness of beekeepers.
Best practices with bee-pollen The implementation of best practices to bee-pllen collection and processing are improving the product condition and the market.
Bread with pollen addition The development of functional foods is important to generate value to bee-products.
Handmade beehives In different apiaries the beehives are handmade to get the honey and have a better control of the process.
Native bees Colombia has some native species of bees that are in a danger of extinction. For beekeepers, it is important to try to protect these species that produce a special kind of honey.
Natural beehives Beekeepers also have natural beehives as part of their apiaries.
Pollen processing Obtaining of quality bee-pollen by mean of solar drying, with a better physiochemical, sensory and microbiological characteristics.
Population of Sierra Nevada working with people is a rewarding job that allows strengthening the beekeeping chain and the integration of the university with the community needs.
Stingless bees Working with stingless bees, allowing greater interaction with the community and reduces the risk of contact with the bees, making it a more attractive work for the whole community.
organic coffee crops Honey from organic-certificated coffee plantations, has given to the project a special aspect associated with origin-linked food products and an important agricultural sector of Colombia such as coffee.
Beekeeper Interview A representative of COAPI gave us his point of view about the project and how It has helped the productive chain

Equipment design for bee pollen drying and impurities separation, based on the currently available facilities and the specific technological needs. The implementation of a solar dryer with improved energy usage and reduced exposure to contaminants.
Development of bakery products with the inclusion of pollen and bioactive and sensory characteristics that allow its marketing as an innovative product.
Development of quality spirits, derived from honey. Establishing conditions, design and construction of equipment for low scale mead production following  ergonomics, quality and safety criteria.
Physicochemical and nutritional characterization of honeys from areas with organic coffee crops. Reduction of microbial contamination by means of heat treatment without significantly affecting its physicochemical characteristics.
Knowledge transfer to beekeepers, in scientific and technological aspects of pollen, honey and mead, and value addition. Training of undergraduate, masters and doctorate.

Bakery products Development of bakery products with the inclusion of pollen and bioactive and sensory characteristics that allow its marketing as an innovative product.
Diagnosis with beekeepers Direct interview with beekeepers was developed to obtain a diagnosis and suggest modifications to improve the process according with food regulations.
Honey characterization Physicochemical and nutritional characterization of honeys from areas with organic coffee crops
Honey processing Reduction of microbial contamination by mean of best practices of processing and managment.
Knowledge transfer Knowledge transfer to beekeepers, in scientific and technological aspects of pollen, honey and mead, and value addition
Laboratory training Beekeepers learned at ICTA laboratory how to process some fruits to produce mead and how to evaluate honey and mead quality
Mead Equipments Design and construction of equipment for low scale mead production following ergonomics, quality and safety criteria.
Mead Sensory training International expert taught beekeepers of different regions, how to make mead sensory evaluation to determine its quality.
Mead development Development of mead production.
Pollen dryer As part of the project was designed a new equipment to dry pollen, according to the apiary diagnosis.
Pot honey Improving processing characteristics of native "pot honey" during all stages of production
Training in apiaries Training sessions were developed in different regions of the apiaries oriented to transfer knowledge.
bee-pollen storage Conditions for bee-pollen storage were evaluated to generate improvements in order to modify some process conditions.
solar dryer Implementation of solar dryer with improved sensory characteristics of bee-pollen
technical visit A group of researchers visited the apiary facilities for the diagnosis of the infrastructure.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Apiary diagnosis A diagnosis was conducted, to determine the apiary conditions and the characteristics of the process to obtain bee-products.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Booklet of pollen and honey quality A booklet of pollen and honey quality was written to give beekeepers a guide to the evaluation of some parameters for determining quality in these products.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Mead Production Flow diagram for the production of mead, according to the conditions of the project and the conditions specified in each apiary.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Mead Quality Booklet Some booklets were developed to provide a guide to beekeepers for the mead production.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Mead Sensory evaluation A booklet was written to describe sensory methods to evaluate mead.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are beekeepers' associations. The association ASOAPIBOY in department of Boyacá and COAPI in the department of Huila, which currently has approximately 140 beneficiaries, mainly small farmers who have hives located in different parts of Central and Eastern Andean mountain ranges, including the Colombian Massif and the Magdalena Valley (Department of Huila). The apiary "Los Cerezos", located in Viracachá (Department of Boyacá) in Cundiboyacense high plateau region, which belongs to ASOAPIBOY. 139 beekeepers directly linked to the productive sector in organizations involved in the project: Red Ecolsierra and Apiserra, entities that promote the sustainable development and competitiveness of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region with environmental and social objectives.

Beekeepers The direct beneficiaries of the project are beekeepers' associations.
Beekeepers 2 Work with beekeepers include community, beekeepers families and the entire production chain
Sierra Nevada Community Red Ecolsierra and Apiserra, entities that promote the sustainable development and competitiveness of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region with environmental and social objectives.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Beneficiaries Beekeepers belonging to the associations of different departments of Colombia are being benefited with the project.

It exceeds 200 people, with different skills and training backgrounds. 139 beekeepers linked to Red Ecolsierra and APISIERRA, who through their work in bee breeding and management of organic coffee plantations, promote conservation and health across their region. 20 beekeepers belonging to the associations COAPI, ASOAPIBOY, ASOAPICOM and "Los Cerezos" apiary.


The Institute of Food Science and Technology - ICTA of the National University of Colombia, at the head of this project, has scientific, administrative and technical staff with verifiable experience in developing projects. The institute has relied on the participation of more than 30 people from different professions. Many students have been involved addressing different issues of the project and have carried out their research thesis at the levels of Bachelor, Master and Doctorate. In addition, ICTA has counted on the support of international and national experts on specific issues critical for the achievement of project goals.

Beekeepers group Beekeepers, who through their work in bee breeding and management of plantations, promote conservation and health across their region.
Diagnostic group Reserchers visited different apiaries to evaluate process conditions
Laboratory staff Many students have been involved addressing different issues of the project and have carried out their research thesis at the levels of Bachelor, Master and Doctorate.
Research staff The Institute of Food Science and Technology - ICTA of the National University of Colombia, at the head of this project, has scientific, administrative and technical staff with verifiable experience in developing projects.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Research Staff The institute has relied on the participation of more than 30 people from different professions and has counted on the support of international and national experts on specific issues critical for the achievement of project goals.

One of the main difficulties encountered was the backwardness of the country with regard to the capacity for manufacturing suitable equipment and facilities for food handling, which meet accurate design parameters and standards. To mitigate this obstacle, an interaction was established with private companies engaged in the manufacture of equipment, with experience and knowledge in the development of these products in other countries, which allowed for achieving the development of the designed equipment.


On the other hand, the Colombian beekeeping productive chain has had a very slow development, and the state-of-the-art of beekeeping and bee-derived products in the country was extremely limited. As a strategy for coping with this issue, the institute established links with other research groups, which allowed for taking advantage from knowledge and experience of field experts from abroad, who were involved in the project to perform high-quality training in specific subjects.

Experts 1 the institute established links with other research groups, which allowed for taking advantage from knowledge and experience of field experts from abroad, who were involved in the project to perform high-quality training in specific subjects.
Experts 2 the institute established links with other research groups, which allowed for taking advantage from knowledge and experience of field experts from abroad, who were involved in the project to perform high-quality training in specific subjects.

The great susceptibility of bees to the presence of harmful agents in the environment, has enabled their employment as indicators of the biosphere health. Promoting beekeeping is an alternative for promoting environmental responsibility, recognition of biodiversity, its use in a sustainable manner with a positive impact on agriculture and food security. Native (stingless) bees, for example, are in danger of extinction. Making the native "pot honey" a profitable product, will provide an economic motivation to beekeepers for continuing their breeding, thus helping to avoid extinction.


The work of the bee promotes cross-pollination in crops improving the quality indices in different fruits and their yield per hectare. Beekeeping has been used as a strategy to preserve 2500 hectares of forest in the country. Additionally, the establishment of the bee pollen solar drying systems will be put into use representing an energy saving, reducing carbon footprint of the transformation process.

Energy saving the establishment of the bee pollen solar drying systems will be put into use representing an energy saving, reducing carbon footprint of the transformation process.
Pollination The work of the bee promotes cross-pollination in crops improving the quality indices in different fruits and their yield per hectare.
biodiversity Promoting beekeeping is an alternative for promoting environmental responsibility, recognition of biodiversity, its use in a sustainable manner with a positive impact on agriculture and food security.
honey of stingless bees Making the native "pot honey" a profitable product, will provide an economic motivation to beekeepers for continuing their breeding, thus helping to avoid extinction.

The project presents all aspects that are required to be replicated in other regions with similar characteristics. Antioquia, Cauca and Santander departments are recognized for their efforts to certify as organic their coffee crops and at the same time are beekeeping areas, which makes them prospects for future research aimed at characterizing and differentiating their honeys. In addition, after improving the conditions of production and processing, it is necessary to work on initiatives related to packaging design, origin-certification procedures and obtaining of quality labels that allow for the export of these products.


Furthermore, a model of pollen production is required to generate a positive economic impact, and to provide a viable alternative for the development of the communities.


The mead production plant, will be launched and validated in the field, after which beekeepers supported by ICTA, will be able to carry out initiatives to exploit the business on a larger scale.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Transferibilidad The project presents all aspects that are required to be replicated in other regions with similar characteristics. Antioquia, Cauca and Santander departments are recognized for their efforts to certify as organic their coffee crops and at the same time are beekeeping areas, which makes them prospects for future research aimed at characterizing and differentiating their honeys.

The most important dissemination events have been: the First Seminar on Quality and Value Generation for Bee Products - Technological Development and Innovation, attended by beekeepers coming from several regions; and the 1st National Bee Honey Quality Contest, whose awards corresponded to training workshops on physicochemical and sensory quality of bee honey and their importance for the development of valuable products.


Additionally, several scientific products have been released, including peer-reviewed papers and works presented at events such as the International Beekeeping Congress – APIMONDIA, the National Meeting of Research and Development - ENID (2012, 2013 and 2014), the Second International Research Conference on Food Science and Technology - IICTA 2014, the First Seminar on Drying of Agricultural Products 2013, among others.


The online training course on Composition and Physicochemical Quality of Bee Products, aimed at improving the skills of beekeepers.

APIMONDIA several scientific products have been released, including peer-reviewed papers and works presented at events such as the International Beekeeping Congress – APIMONDIA
APIMONDIA POSTER Several scientific products have been released, including peer-reviewed papers and works presented at events such as the International Beekeeping Congress – APIMONDIA
Posters the Second International Research Conference on Food Science and Technology - IICTA 2014
Presentations First Seminar on Quality and Value Generation for Bee Products - Technological Development and Innovation
online course The online training course on Composition and Physicochemical Quality of Bee Products, aimed at improving the skills of beekeepers. http://www.virtual.unal.edu.co/cursos/ciencias/2018415/und0/
Transfer of knowledge some training sessions were developed to transfer beekeepers knowledge about scientific and technological aspects of pollen, honey and mead, and value addition.