Dani Jump is no stranger to Siem Reap. It’s his passion for bees, which has captured the hearts of the local people by storm. With his organization “Bees Unlimited” he trains people and shows them how beekeeping works ecological and sustainable with Asian bee colonies.
Dani has furthermore developed an exceptional program for tourists, named “Bees Unlimited Tours”. He offers several tours such as Angkor Nature- , Bees-, Market-Tour and many more. Each kind of tour is really special and gives a deep insight into rural Life in Cambodia. We asked Dani a few questions – and we invite you to read his interesting answers!
1. Where do you come from and how did you come to Cambodia?
Originally from the US of A—I was born there, is all—I came to Cambodia in 1994, answering a call to come and work ‘in the shadow of Angkor Wat’—something I found difficult to turn down, at the time.
2. You are kind of a “bee-doctor” in Cambodia – where does your passion for bees come from?
When I first arrived in Cambodia, my work was not at all related to bees, but rather to horticulture—encouraging farmers in villages around Siem Reap, to grow vegetables. My passion for bees comes from my previous job as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, involved with Beekeeping Extension, in Paraguay, South America, working with ‘Killer Bees’, and where, at one site, I had 30 colonies in my back yard and kept a number of Stingless Bee colonies, as well…
3. You describe, that Bees Unlimited is the only facilitator of its kind in Cambodia that provides comprehensive village-based beekeeping training. How did you start this amazing project?
First of all, I’m flattered that you feel this is an “amazing project”. Thank you—and spread the word!
Early this century, I was introduced to a traditional honey-hunter living near Banteay Srey, who took me out and showed me how he harvested honey. After smoking the bees, he proceeded to cut the entire comb away from its support—honey, pollen, larvae—everything!
I was appalled!! What’s more, all the other honey-hunters in his community and throughout Cambodia, I learned, were doing the exact same thing: cutting off the hands that fed them! It didn’t make any sense to me back then—it doesn’t make any sense to me now; yet, the practice continues… because there just is no one out there preaching the gospel of sustainable honey-harvesting!
I’ll cut corners a bit here, keep it short, and say simply that Bees Unlimited—two Khmers and an expat—was established to educate local honey-hunters and others to keep bees and to harvest honey sustainably, because—I repeat—no one in the country was doing it.
4. What you’re doing with Bees Unlimited is absolutely great! Please tell our readers something about your successes so far.
Success?? It’s all relative; those of you who’d like to know more about who we are and what we do, can visit our website at: http://www.beesunlimited.com, and browse the appropriate pages.
5. You also offer special tours and those tours are listed in the top list of activities in Siem Reap on Trip Advisor. What have been the most exciting experiences for you and your guests? Which of those real stories do you remember most?
Bees Unlimited certainly appears to be on solid footing, close to the pinnacle of Trip Advisor listings for ‘Things to do in Siem Reap’…
The rise in popularity of our “Discover Cambodia” Tours has certainly exceeded all expectations. But it’s easy to understand why the tours are so popular: ‘Templed-out’ tourists want something else—something different, and with Bees Unlimited—Your Temple Tour Alternative, they get just that—with someone who knows and loves this country; someone who speaks both their language and the local language; and, is not afraid to eat the local food.
For many—if not most of our clients—a tour with Bees Unlimited was the best thing they did in Cambodia; many of them share their experience on Trip Advisor—and that’s why we’re so highly rated. As for the experiences remembered most… Ask my clients! Read the reviews! … It’s all about them—not about me.
6. What is your goal and your biggest dream?
I don’t really set goals; but just take one day at a time—Cambodian-style. Concerning beekeeping: It would be nice to see traditional honey-hunters throughout Cambodia harvesting in a sustainable manner—but that won’t happen unless and until NGOs, other organizations, and government in and of this country make bees and beekeeping a priority, providing Bees Unlimited an opportunity to impact on a large scale. Concerning Bees Unlimited—Your Temple Tour Alternative: a permanent Top-5 listing on Trip Advisor would certainly be a dream—however wild.
7. How can tourists support the locals?
Tourists on my tours support the locals in many different ways: they buy and eat local food; purchase locally-made, hand-rolled incense; get ‘cupped’ for a price; buy traditional Khmer scarves and other souvenirs from villagers… The way to support locals is to purchase local products from locals—and from those locals who need it most; it’s that simple!
8. Please describe a typical day in your life.
A day in the life of Dani Jump… Wow! First of all, there’s nothing typical about my days; every day is different—just like the tours—with seasons playing an important role. During bee season I’m sometimes involved with beekeeping training; often out assisting my Bees Unlimited teammate/honey-hunter with sustainable honey-harvesting; taking orders for honey; making honey deliveries; taking tourists on tours to observe bees, harvesting; and to taste the real deal… pure, Cambodian wild honey! When it comes to Bees Unlimited—Your Temple Tour Alternative… Well that means connecting with tuk tuk drivers over the phone, and involves a fair bit of time on the Internet booking clients and answering questions before a tour; meeting with the clients the evening before a tour; taking clients out on tour; checking e-mails after a tour; posting photos of each tour on Facebook’s Bees Unlimited tour page, editing videos and posting them on the Bees Unlimited YouTube channel; checking e-mails before heading to bed… Being a ‘One-man Show’ I kind of do everything myself… When I’ve got some free time, I often spend it in what’s left of the forests of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, taking pictures of insects and arthropods, and collecting caterpillars—which I raise to maturity, and photograph the butterflies and moths that emerge, before releasing them.
9. Is there anything else you want to tell us?
I suppose I could share my pet peeves with you all… People who condemn the consumption of cats and dogs—but think nothing of devouring cows and pigs, chicken, fish, and other animals; the incessant noise of Cambodian weddings and funerals; Cambodians who drive the wrong way down one-way streets—and through red lights; and expats who don’t wear motorbike helmets; as well as expats who have only been in Cambodia for a few months to a few years and think they know everything—yet don’t speak a lick of Khmer, don’t befriend Cambodians, don’t shop at local markets, and don’t even eat the local food… There’s more, of course, but that will do for now. Thanks for having me.
Also we’d be really delighted to know about your experience you made during a tour with Dani. We are sure, that you will enjoy the trip!
Photos by © Dani Jump
Photo of Dani Jump by © Kristina Josephine
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