Honey Production for Communities in Central Transylvania



In March 2010, the frozen Transylvanian landscape is disturbed only by the constant flow of the Somes River. In the silence of the valley all is at a standstill as people wait for winter to pass. The valley, the houses, people and animals will awake from this immobility only when the first signs of spring will appear.



At the first crossroad in the Fantanele village lives the Benc family. This is one of the youngest families in the village. Alin Benc and his wife Cosmina have become Heifer beneficiaries during the “Original Placement Campaign” in May 2009, “Honey Production for Poor Communities in Central Transylvania.” This project focuses on honey production and bee breeding as an activity fitted for poor families in the area, who have very limited resources and cannot afford an investment in high-input farming activities.



Alin Benc (31), is a young man, hard working and tenacious, married to Cosmina (26) and father of a 6-year-old girl, Sonia Maria. The family is living with Benc Losif and Viorica, Alin`s parents who are both retired. They are struggling to survive; Alin is working as a driver at a construction company in Cluj, the “nearest” city (around 65 miles) 100 km away. He comes home only on weekends, because he needs to save money to pull through his family. His wife Cosmina, is unemployed and dedicates her time to their daughter and the household.



Alin was amazed and fascinated by honey bees since he was just a boy. Since the Heifer project began, Alin is seriously thinking of increasing the number of bee families and began turning beekeeping into a profitable activity. His first production was 50 kg of honey and 6 kg of pollen, but his intention is to increase production and become self-sustainable.



Sonia Maria helps her mother around the household. She is concerned when she hears about beekeeping, and she is not at all afraid of bees. She wants to become a beekeeper when she grows up. Her favorite breakfast is buttered bread with honey and tea. Alin encourages his daughter and always leaves her "in charge” when he goes to work.



Alin Benc believes beekeeping is highly productive. It is just a matter of increasing the number of bee families. The boxes are expensive, but more boxes mean more bee families, thus productivity will increase. He is highly attentive with the bees during winter as the insects are very sensitive. It is important all bee families pass through winter safely. A significant quantity of honey was left in the hive for the bees to feed.  Once winter is over and all the bees are safe, the Benc family can think about the honey production for the next year. Cosmina has always supported her husband’s decisions and passions. They do everything together, although she is more fearful when it comes to working with bees.



Although they sold some of the honey production, it is early to talk about profit. Honey products have a large range of use and improve nutrition and health. The Benc family bought all necessary tools for collecting pollen and propolis. They constantly ask for guidelines and want to perfect their skills in bee breeding.



Alin agrees, “Bees will change our life, but first we have to provide them the best conditions." He is determined to continue attending trainings in order to carry out his plan. Increase the number of bee families to get more products and consequently become sustainable and self-sufficient. All this will help him remain with his family and see his daughter every day.



“I always felt honey bees will help me succeed in supporting my family. I will not give up,” said Alin.



Submitted by Laura Manciu
PR and Communications
Heifer Romania

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