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  • Writer's pictureSarah Pyrce

The Vital Role Tourism is Playing in Bee Conservation



World Bee Day, which takes place annually on May 20th, was designated by the UN to promote the protection and preservation of bees. Pollinators are essential for our ecosystems to thrive, yet they are at risk due to human activities including the usage of pesticides and air pollution. World Bee Day shines a spotlight on bees and conservation efforts, prompting organizations to take action. In an interview with National Geographic Travel on bee conservation, humanitarian activist Angelina Jolie shared, "It's very important that you don't just go into a country and say, ‘We're going to keep this special area and preserve it.’ We do need to do that, but in order to really do that in a way that's sustainable, we have to find ways that the people living within those communities are thriving and connected to this natural environment.” REYA Communications is proud to represent clients who are contributing to this worldwide initiative while incorporating the communities most impacted. Volcanoes Safaris in Uganda manages a beekeeping initiative at Kyambura Lodge to reduce human-wildlife conflict with elephants and provide income to local beekeepers. In Ireland, Cashel Palace has been declared an official Conservation Area for the Native Irish Black Honey Bee. Meanwhile, Delfin Amazon Cruises in Peru supports local communities by donating beehives while benefiting the environment and local economy. 


Below are further details on the stories behind each client’s hives and their social impact. 


  1. Uganda | Volcanoes Safaris: Supporting local beekeeping to reduce human-wildlife conflict 

  2. Ireland | Cashel Palace: Saving the Native Irish Black Honey Bee

  3. Peru | Delfin Amazon Cruises: Supporting beekeeping as a means of income for local communities


UGANDA | VOLCANOES SAFARIS:



Volcanoes Safaris implemented a beekeeping project at Kyambura Lodge in Uganda to reduce human-wildlife conflict with elephants and provide income to local beekeepers. Starting in January 2012 in association with Malaika Honey, the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) has organized beekeeping training for local farmers. The course provides apiary management, care, and harvesting information to fifteen members of the Omumashaka Bee Keepers Co-Operative, who have been producing honey in Kyambura since 2006. The local farmers are taught the necessary skills to become commercial beekeepers through practical, on-site training. The hives have been set up to create a fence surrounding farmers’ land, helping to deter elephants from raiding the crops and reducing human-wildlife conflict as elephants detest bees. Sales of honey and fees paid by international visitors help make the project sustainable and increase the livelihood of local people. The VSPT is a non-profit organization established in 2009 that connects Volcanoes’ lodges to neighboring communities and conservation activities. The VSPT receives funding through Volcanoes Safaris, which contributes $50 per night from each guest staying at a Volcanoes lodge, as well as private donations by our guests and others. 


About Volcanoes Safaris: Volcanoes Safaris has been at the forefront of reviving gorilla and chimpanzee tourism in the region since 1997. As pioneers of sustainable mountain gorilla tourism in the region Volcanoes Safaris became the first international safari company to take clients to Rwanda in 2000. In 2004, Virunga Lodge, built by Praveen Moman, was opened and was the first lodge to be built by an international company near the gorilla park after the war. In 2022, Volcanoes Safaris is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is recognized as the leader in great ape tourism specializing in mountain gorilla and chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. With four magnificent lodges, reimagined in recent years, guests can enjoy all the highlights of Uganda and Rwanda in comfort and style while primate trekking in East Africa. Guests can also experience and participate in community and conservation projects run by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust. The Dian Fossey Map Room was opened at Virunga Lodge in 2017 in honor of Dian Fossey and includes a permanent exhibition charting the ‘Conservationists and Explorers of the Virunga Volcanoes’.



IRELAND | CASHEL PALACE:



As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, and the environment, the Cashel Palace Hotel in Tipperary has officially declared a Conservation Area for the Native Irish Black Honey Bee. This honey bee is part of the Dark European Honey Bee subspecies that evolved in northwestern Europe. Scientific research conducted by LIT & NUIG confirmed unambiguously in 2018 that Ireland's population is genetically distinctive. This distinctiveness contributes to the traits that make it the honey bee best adapted to Ireland's climate and weather patterns.


However, honey bees mate in the open, outside of beekeepers' control, making the native black honey bee vulnerable to external threats, principally hybridization with non-native honey bees. For this reason, the Dark European Honey Bee is now extinct in most of its native range of North West Europe. The island of Ireland is its last stronghold in Europe.


Devised by the Native Irish Honey Bee Society, the designation of Conservation Areas is a vital tool in saving it from extinction. The Native Irish Honey Bee is accorded special protection by creating a safe haven to breed without fear of interbreeding with non-native honey bees. While declaring the conservation area, The Cashel Palace has provided a site for the propagation of this precious genetic resource and is delighted to welcome bees back to the historical site, which has a history and heritage of honey bees. This can be seen from the original 'bee boles' in the car park wall of the hotel. These bee boles are alcoves in the wall and are easily observed from the car park. They were once used for holding traditional straw beehives or 'skeps' before the invention of modern wooden beehives. South Tipperary has a rich history regarding bees and honey production. It has one of the longest-running beekeeping clubs in Ireland and holds the oldest conservation areas for the native Irish black honey bee.


The field where they are situated will also be rewilded benefiting other pollinators including bumblebees and solitary bees. This will be in line with action points within the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. Honey bees can fly up to 5 kilometers and will collect typically Irish honey from wildflowers such as blackberry, clover, hawthorn, and ivy.


About Cashel Palace: 

Opened in March 2022, the Cashel Palace Hotel offers 42 unique bedrooms including 8 sumptuous suites. This iconic residence encompasses The Bishop’s Buttery Restaurant, which serves a seasonal menu from the freshest local produce, and the original Guinness Bar. New additions to the hotel will include a magnificent ballroom and indulgent spa overlooking the gardens.



PERU | DELFIN AMAZON CRUISES:



Delfin Amazon Cruises, a trailblazer in luxury river expeditions, has expanded its collaboration with BioAmaz to enhance the lives of communities in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Lissy Urteaga, Owner and Co-Founder of Delfin Amazon Cruises, expresses her enthusiasm, "Our latest initiative involves donating 10 beehives, specifically Melipona Eburnea and Melipona Illota species, to communities in San Regis, Villa Monte Alegre, and Vista Alegre. These stingless bees serve as an income source, enabling communities to produce and sell honey, pollen, beeswax, and propolis back to BioAmaz. This expansion deepens our partnership, reinforcing our commitment to sustainable beekeeping and community development.”


Since May of 2020, BioAmaz through their project Bee Queen Coin has contributed significantly to the cause, providing over a thousand beehives to more than 250 families. Their initiative spans 29 different species out of the almost 200 stingless Meliponine species, showcasing a dedicated effort to biodiversity and community welfare.


Importantly, communities have the flexibility to either sell the produced honey, bee wax, pollen, and propolis back to Bee Queen Coin or keep it for their own consumption. This dual-purpose approach enriches local diets, addresses nutritional needs, and simultaneously benefits their crops through enhanced pollination.


The Meliponine species are stingless bees, making them safe and easy to supervise for the local villagers. The absence of a sting eliminates the threat to the villagers and streamlines the beekeeping process, ensuring a more accessible and sustainable endeavor for the communities.


The integration of sustainable beekeeping practices with these stingless bee species and local agriculture not only provides economic opportunities but also supports crop production and biodiversity. Delfin Amazon Cruises' guests can enjoy onboard the benefits of a Farm-to-Table garden, featuring a variety of fruits and vegetables such as camu camu, sacha culantro, mustard, lettuce, regional tomatoes, watermelon, and much more. At the garden, we host 10 beehives of Melipona Eburnea to make the detrimental pollination process happen.


This holistic approach aligns with the shared vision of Delfin Amazon Cruises and Bee Queen Coin to foster thriving ecosystems and resilient communities in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. It is also intertwined with education efforts in local schools. Kids are visiting the crops, learning from lectures, and helping by making handmade signs. Guests of the Delfin I can visit the Bee Queen Coin center in Iquitos and witness the marvel of open beehives housing stingless Meliponine up close.


About Delfin Amazon Cruises: 

Delfin Amazon Cruises was launched in early 2006 by its founder and CEO, Aldo Macchiavello. The company is the culmination of a dream shared with his wife Lissy Urteaga – to run a boutique travel business that should showcase the natural beauty of their country, Peru. Delfin Amazon Cruises sets the highest standards for impeccable 5-star hospitality, authentic Peruvian design and superb local cuisine. The Delfin I, II, and III effortlessly combine comfort and grace with the breathtaking wilderness setting of the Amazon. Each vessel thrives in harmony with nature and their panoramic suites and terraces, offer guests a special “non-cruise” atmosphere with the opportunity to explore one of the world’s most pristine environments. Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, the boutique luxury vessels take guests on 3 and 4-night itineraries into one of the world’s largest protected flooded forests, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Experienced naturalist guides and experts showcase the immense biodiversity of the area with excursions and activities that include (but are not limited to) visits to local villages, kayaking, swimming with pink river dolphins, fishing, daytime hiking, and night safaris. 



For any inquiries please contact, Sarah Pyrce at sarah@reyacommunications.com

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