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Joining the ranks of Burma’s burgeoning market in community-based tourism, Plan Bee is the sweetest new experience in beautiful Shan State.
The Plan Bee project that aims to improve the livelihoods, nutrition and food security of some of Myanmar’s poorest people in Shan State. Started by LIFT (Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund) and Tag International Development, Plan Bee is providing vulnerable people – many of them women or those with no land to farm – with the skills and equipment to start their own beekeeping businesses.
Beekeeping is one of the world’s oldest and most important industries, with bees responsible for the pollination of over 80% of the world’s plants. What’s more, as a business there are many ways it can generate income for keepers and their communities – from selling honey and wax to providing pollination services for farmers, increasing the quality and quantity of local crops, and stimulating secondary industries such as carpentry (for beehive construction) and candle-making.
Plan Bee works in 20 different villages across southern Shan State, with a Visitors’ Centre on the shores of Pone Taloke Lake in Pindaya. Opened last year, the centre is a great place to learn about bees and how Plan Bee is helping alleviate poverty locally. Did you know, for instance, that all worker bees are female, and that they never sleep? Or that the average honey bee produced 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime?
The centre has a huge selection of locally produced honey, beeswax and balm on offer, with all profits going directly to local beekeepers. Once you’ve taken a tour of the centre, we highly recommend stopping at the lakeside café for a honey-tasting experience, giving you the chance to taste and compare several local varieties of honey and honeycombs – all washed down with honey and ginger tea.
In the future, Plan Bee aims to set up hands-on beekeeping experience with local farmers, which would allow tourists to learn even more about the industry. For now, however – just sit back, relax, and enjoy the honey!
Photos: Alex Shaw