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.
Food Science and Technology Institute - ColombiaLead 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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 - ColombiaInitiative 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.