Filming our mangrove documentary about bees!

MAP Creative Director Leo Thom is on the island of Koh Klang in Southern Thailand capturing a story of how coastal people are changing their relationship with stingless bees. Stingless bees are one of the biggest pollinators of mangrove forests and people are adapting their lives so that they can harvest valuable honey and the bees can help enhance the environment.

It was after saving children during the 2004 tsunami and moving her home by over 500 metres to avoid losing it to the sea that Khun Nit shifted her life towards mangrove conservation. She lives next to a tiny sea wall that separates her from the ocean, but now the mangroves she planted have also grown to protect her and her village. She leads many mangrove related educational activities including a tie-dye group and goes into local schools to talk about the benefits of mangroves. She recently came across a village that has become well known in the region, for its relationship with bees. 

There is now a collection of 11 species of bee at the village of Nai Nang, including the honey bee and different species of stingless bees. Bang Tee is the conservation leader of the village and he knows that bees not only help to support him and his family, but they also help the environment, and especially during the period of recovery after huge amounts of mangrove destruction to make way for shrimp ponds. Stingless bees are one of the biggest pollinators of mangrove forests and he has adapted his conservation actions so that bees can work together for the environment and for people’s livelihoods. The stingless bees produce less honey than honey bees but a more valuable and medicinal honey. Bang Tee and his apiculture group are now training other villages so that they too can earn an income keeping bees, whilst enhancing the environment.

After visiting Bang Tee and seeing the bees at Nai Nang, Khun Nit was excited about taking back the news about bees to her friends in the village. Her friends, Sao and Bao, both have stingless bees living with them in their homes, like many others on the island where stingless bees are abundant. Sao has stingless bees living in her bedpost, and Bao has bees in his front door. Both have left the bees living in their homes for 5 years as their elders have told them that it will bring them luck. But Khun Nit thinks their bees could bring both a valuable income. Sao’s family lives from fishing, and the last 5 months has been a real struggle, and even creating tension between her and her husband. Bao lives with his wife and 3 young children and must bring in more to help support his growing family. Khun Nit wants them to learn about how to keep stingless bees and asks Bang Tee for help. Will he be able to pass on his knowledge and skills of beekeeping and will Sao and Bao find honey in their homes?

The mangroves around the island can support the people here in many different ways. As well as protecting them from storms and waves that erode the southern part of the island, they replenish the seas by acting as nurseries to a huge number of fish, crab, turtles, shrimp, lobster. People even pick the fruits, use mangrove palm leaves for parts of their homes, and some trees are filled with honey! 

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported so far. And please donate to the project – the money goes directly towards Bang Tee giving stingless bee training to people of Klong Prasong who live with stingless bees in their home. The training will give them the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to successfully transfer the bees into a hand made bee box, and extract the honey for a much needed income.