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Low Tech Wanderers: The Beekeepers

Report from Ag Team 597: The significance of “Wanderers” on crop fertility

Background: We had met with local farmers who expressed worry about the late arrival of the nomadic society that they termed “wanderers”. Eventually, we agreed to locate a wanderer family and attempt to persuade them to divert to the AO. This gave an opportunity to interview one of them and establish their importance to the local economy.

“My name is Inigo, from the Riordan family and I am a beekeeper and a Wanderer. I move with the bees – we use my wagon. The bees and I go wherever there is vegetation, wherever rain falls, wherever people are welcoming.”
Ag-597: “Where do you get the bees?”

INIGO: “We – the wanderers – and the bees have been together for generations. But sometimes we capture wild swarms in the highlands and sometimes we buy at the annual market.”

Ag-597: “What sort of hives do you use?”

INIGO: “Our hives are made of wood. They look like upside-down baskets – bigger at the bottom than the top. But some families use clay pipes. The pipes are easier to clean and last a long time. We have to make new hives every year. ”

Ag-597: “I notice that you don’t use protective gear. Do you get stung?”

INIGO: “No. We are very experienced. And we are used to them, they do not hurt. ”

Ag-597: “Do you use any special equipment? Is there any way we can help you?”

INIGO: “Equipment? We don’t use special tools; everything is done using our hands and some smoke. The smoke forces the bees to come out and move away. Then we take off the cover and the comb is extracted with a knife. It is put into boxes or larger containers by hand.”

Ag-597: “How long do you stay in one place?”

INIGO: “We’ll stay in this area for about forty days, then we will extract the honey and move… at night. When the bees are asleep or cannot come out. When we see a good place, we will stop.”

Ag-597: “What’s a ‘good place’ for wanderers”

INIGO: “Where the rains have come. Where the people appreciate us. Where we can set up our hives without too many guards.”

Ag-597: Are you the only source of bees?

INIGO: “No. But only wanderers have honeybees and the other bees aren’t as good at making crops grow. There are too few of them.”

Ag-597: “And you travel all year round?”

INIGO: “Oh yes. Even in Winter there are flowers and people who want honey. Winter honey is the best… highest quality, the most expensive. But in the winter we only travel in the south. In the spring and summer we’ll be in the midlands or the northlands”

AG-597: “Have you ever considered settling down?”

INIGO: Never! “The plants – and the people – need our bees. It’s not a bad life, I only get tired when we have to move. We load the wagon and then we travel, we unload. It all has to be finished before dawn. We move from camp to camp with God’s blessings, together with our other family: the bees… depending on the seasons…”

[real-world background: This is something I worked on after discovering that real-world, commercial beekeepers in the US are nomadic. Their beehives are moved around the country and ‘rented out’ to farmers ]

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