Beekeeping in Tavush
Many villages in Armenia are located close to each other so that the border of the neighboring village can pass through your wall. The borders of remote villages become a formality, because regardless of any borders, people live with the same, often a boundless, great concern. Many Armenian refugee families from Azerbaijan settled in the 1988-1990- ies in Aghavnavank and Khachardzan villages of Tavush region; they live in abandoned, dilapidated houses. Many people couldn’t handle farming; most of them lived in the urban area and didn’t have any farming skills or means. They could barely survive with the provided aid. The village of Khachardzan has 106 farms; here about 40% of families are extremely needy ones. Aghavnavank village has 302 residents and 98 farms. Here we find the same picture. There are no favorable conditions for farming; lands are not irrigated, villages don’t have agricultural water pipes. The climate and setting here allows developing bee-keeping, however these families could not take up beekeeping as well because they had neither knowledge nor means for buying bee hives, bee families and other necessary equipment. Both villages are surrounded by forests, flowery meadows, and this is the primary condition for the development of apiculture. Honey collected in such nature is organic and very healthy. A lot of people in the village wanted to do beekeeping since they were realizing that they could develop their economy this way, have an income, but how? Beekeeping is an agricultural sector, which, in addition to the financial investment that does not correspond to the means of this village residents, requires the necessary knowledge and practice. These refugee families in their hometown were mainly engaged in non-agricultural work: one of them is an engineer, the other is a builder, and the third one is a linguist. After getting familiar with the problems of the people, besides the food-aid assistance program, the Fund created and started implementing a beekeeping development program. First, families should learn beekeeping skills, therefore have all necessary equipment for beehives and beekeeping. With the development program the Fund provided 20 beehives to each village, which was intended for 4 needy families (5 beehives per family), as well as required hats, bee smokers, scraping knives, strainers, also sugar necessary for feeding the bees in the early stages. The heads of two villages provided spaces for these beehives, where they were placed. An experienced beekeeper lives in the village of Khachardzan, he willingly helps the beginners. A year after the start of the program, these ten families of the two villages will have enough honey for one year and they commit to bring 4 hives per village, 8 beehives in total, and these 8 beehives will be provided to the neighboring Hovk community which is also in severe poor social condition. Thus beekeeping will be developed in the region, which will help people to have an income, create an economy, and why not, most important, they will help their relatives, their neighbors. Beehives will expand throughout the years, this will be a major help to the families, additionally the beneficiaries will expand over the years, and many needy families will get out of their difficult social condition. We have started the program for two villages, but thanks to self-financing it includes the third village as well.