The host will provide work gloves, protective veil, and all required hive management tools. If you arrive during the honey season, Sylvestre will top off your day with a bowl of local honey.
What you should bring
You will need to wear a hat with a protective veil. Sylvestre recommends you use a wide brimmed hat that can be purchased in local markets. Sylvestre will provide the protective veil. Wearing several layers of clothing to protect from beestings is highly recommended. Don't forget long pants, rain / wind pants (to wear over the long pants), long sleeve shirt (wear several layers if you have them), rain / wind jacket (additional layer of protection from stings), and antihistamine (if concerned about allergic reaction). Bring a snack, plenty of water, and good hiking shoes.
Come spend an afternoon with Sylvestre learning about traditional beekeeping in Rwanda. Sylvestre is a self taught beekeeper with over 75 traditional log beehives, made from the trunk of a banana plant. Depending on the season you may learn how to manage hives or harvest honey or spend the day making traditional beehives out of banana stems, wood, and mud.
Harvesting involves a simple honey press. Sylvestre makes a partially fermented banana juice that he uses to bait hives when trying to attract new colonies. You could work with Sylvestre and his wife making banana juice to feed the colonies or even taking honey to market.
"Bees are important because they allow you to develop your family."
Sylvestre is a friendly 73 year old beekeeper living just outside of Muramba, Rwanda, where he was born. He has been working with bees for 23 years. Sylvestre and his wife Josephine have 5 kids and 20 grandchildren. In addition to beekeeping, he farms and produces plantains, casava, sweet potatoes, and beans for sale in the local market and for household consumption.
Sylvestre is a member of a beekeeping association in Muramba. He produces about 300 kilos of honey per year, in two seasons. Honey harvests are primarily in March and August. He sells honey locally in Muramba for 200 RWF / kilo and to a Kigali based distributor for 3000 RWF / kilo. Sylvestre has a number of apiaries around the community and works managing hives a few days per week. One apiary is right outside the back door. Beekeeping is his family's primary income source.