How to Help Coffee Producers on World Bee Day

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Coffee For Bees is a World Bee Day initiative to help fund Food 4 Farmers, an NGO helping coffee producers supplement their farms with beekeeping.

BY J. MARIE CARLAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Food 4 Farmers

Small-scale producers walk a tight line financially. Unpredictable coffee prices and the high cost of farming supplies can lead to food insecurity for many coffee producers; it is often difficult for them to earn enough to feed their families a nutritious diet year-round. They may spend several months of the year dealing with hunger and food scarcity, or going into debt to buy food.

Three men in beekeeper garb open up beehives to check on them.
Beekeepers of the ACODIHUE cooperative in Guatemala check in on their beehives.

Celebrate World Bee Day on May 20 with Food 4 Farmers

On World Bee Day—Monday, May 20—your café can help by donating a portion of sales to Food 4 Farmers, an NGO stepping in to help smallholder producers in Latin America to fill in these gaps. They partner with coffee-growing communities to help them diversify their farm products by growing organic fruits and vegetables alongside coffee, and by developing beekeeping programs. Food 4 Farmers is currently working with coffee cooperatives in several countries: Maya Ixil and ACODIHUE in Guatemala, SOPPEXCCA in Nicaragua, COMEPCAFE in Colombia, and CESMACH in Mexico.

Cody Gallagher, communications specialist for Food 4 Farmers, says that the additional income from bees can make it a lot easier for producers to make ends meet. “Farmers have reported that beekeeping provides valuable supplementary income right when their coffee earnings run dry, effectively covering basic needs and mitigating food insecurity during lean months,“ Cody says. “This supplemental income also enables them to adequately prepare for and invest in the next coffee harvest. We have also heard that beekeeping profits allow farmers to invest in essential areas such as education for their children, farm infrastructure enhancements, and acquisition of necessary farming equipment and inputs.“

Food 4 Farmers has been making a huge impact on farming communities, and not just through beekeeping strategies. They also help by planting native trees to protect forests; hosting community educational workshops; and importantly, running a food security program that helps provide extra food and income sources for farmers through home gardens with crops like vegetables and herbs.

Susi Roblero helps two others with a smoker for beehives.
Susi Roblero provides technical assistance to beekeepers at CESMACH coffee cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico.

Some Benefits of Bees

Beekeeping is beneficial for coffee producers in several ways. Bees produce nutritious, high-quality honey that helps feed farm families and can be sold to supplement income. Bees act as pollinators for the coffee and other farm crops, increasing biodiversity. This is good news for the coffee trees; the pollination improves their health, increasing crop yield and producing better-quality coffee. A higher-grade bean means better pay for the producer, and a tastier cup for the consumer.

But there are health benefits for farmers, too! “The shift from processed sugar to honey as a sweetener not only improves nutrition by reducing sugar consumption but also provides a healthier alternative for whole communities,“ Cody says. “For instance, one beekeeper, Juana Escobar, transforms propolis, an underutilized bee resin, into nutritious treats. … These products offer her community healthier snack options and also generate crucial extra income for her family. Additionally, we have observed that beekeeping imparts a sense of well-being, pride, and spiritual fulfillment among farmers, contributing to their overall satisfaction and mental health.“

Sign reads: you can support coffee farmers using beekeeping to grow a healthier future.
Join with Food 4 Farmers on May 20 to continue supporting coffee-growing communities through beekeeping.

Coffee for Bees

Food 4 Farmers is inviting cafés to help raise money on World Bee Day for the services they provide to coffee producers through the Coffee for Bees initiative.

“Money raised through Coffee For Bees will help fund technical assistance and resources for our beekeeping programs in Guatemala and Mexico,“ Cody says.

Here are some ways your café can help:

  • Create a specialty honey-based drink to sell on World Bee Day
  • Dedicate a portion of honey drink sales to Food 4 Farmers ($1 suggested)
  • Dedicate a portion of online sales
  • Promote World Bee Day on social media and at your café to raise awareness and bring in customers!

You can find more information and other ways to partner with Food 4 Farmers here or by contacting cody@food4farmers.org.

A small honeybee buried inside a white coffee flower trying to get at nectar. Many more white flowers fot the coffee tree branches.
A coffee flower is pollinated by a honeybee in Chiapas, Mexico.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Marie Carlan (she/they) is the online editor for Barista Magazine. She’s been a barista for 15 years and writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. When she’s not behind the espresso bar or toiling over content, you can find her perusing record stores, writing poetry, and trying to keep the plants alive in her Denver apartment. She occasionally updates her blog.

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Source: Barista Magazine

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