Tajikistan Beekeeping

In July 2012 I worked with beekeepers in the Rasht Valley of Tajikistan.  They had been keeping bees for many centuries.  The focus of our work was on marketing and development of a cooperative.  This was a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project organized by Citizen's Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA).  Here are some photos.

Snow capped mountains in the middle of summer.  Tajikistan is in central Asia.  It is bordered by China on the east, Uzbekistan on the west, Kyrgyzstan on the north, and Afghanistan on the south.

The Rasht Valley, where I worked, was a long river valley with very rugged terrain.  It was in the center of the country.  There is a lot of livestock grazing in the area.

Bees here benefit from the steep mountains because the bloom period for flowers is longer.  They first bloom at lower, warmer, elevations, and gradually bloom later at higher elevations.

Chatting with melon farmers.


A typical Apiary.


Almost all beekeepers use the Soviet 'chest' style beehive.  We discussed running a trial with some Langstroth hives to compare honey production, but I didn't have the funding to do it.


A mullah beekeeper.  Tajikistan is 99% Muslim religion.  Very conservative.


The bees forage almost exclusively on wild flowers.   We're holding some of the bee forage in this photo.


One of my favorite activities in Tajikistan was tea time with the beekepers.  Almost every beekeeper we visited had me stay for tea with tasty breads, nuts and honey, of course.


A beekeeper's family.


Women and men normally do not socialize together.  A female NGO worker kindly took this photo for me.


Another tea time.  Click the photo to see the foods!


Curious kids.  Most houses were made of clay.  Most were painted.

Herb garden.

A beekeeping musician.

Sweets and nuts in  a market.


Street market.


Medicinal herbs.


Honey salesman.

Honey, and nuts packed in honey.

Time for a little chess with a honey vendor.



Another tea time.  The flat breads are baked on the inside wall of a clay oven.




Many places had these covered platforms for resting.

Tajik teen.



Foot bridge over a river of ice melt.

Mountain home.

Cow patties for cooking fuel.

Melon farmer.




The bees were a gentle and similar to a caucasian strain.  They could be worked without protective clothing.


Visit with a beekeeper.


Discussing how to strengthen bee colonies to produce more honey.


A mobile apiary, similar to those found in eastern Europe.


A beekeeping presentation.

With the leadership of the Rasht Valley Beekeepers Association.


One final tea time!



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