It might seem strange to some, but honey farmer and homespun inventor Manuel Juraci is unashamed to call a jackass both a colleague and a friend.
Like many living in Brazil's sprawling semi-arid shrubland known as the Caatinga, Manuel turned to beekeeping as a means of subsistence in the largely arid and uncultivable region. But in a stroke of countryside genius, he's forged an unlikely animal partnership with what just might be the world's only beekeeping donkey (that has the necessary garb to boot) -- and it's making all the difference.
In recent years, harvesting honey has grown signifcantly in Manuel's little rural town of Itatira, in the Brazilian state of Ceará -- in fact, the bees there are the biggest producers around. But of 120 or so beekeepers in Itatira, Manuel and his donkey Boneco are among the most successful, thanks in part to Manuel's invention: the donkey-sized beekeeper's suit that keeps his partner safe from stings.
Together the pair are capable of bringing more honey to market than most farmers can harvest alone. Not surprisingly, Manuel and Boneco have caught the attention of the Association of Honey Producers which hopes that he'll make custom suits for their animals as well.
While Manuel considers the offer, which would likely come as a pleasant boon, he's quick to note that it's not the custom beekeeping suit alone that has lead to his success in the honey business:
"Not to discount the others," says Manuel, "but Boneco is a faithful friend."
Here's a news report on the beekeeping donkey (in Portuguese):
via G1 Globo