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Local honey bee industry recovers from 10-year slump

Local honey bee  industry recovers from 10-year slump

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The local honey bee industry has made a massive recovery since 1999, when local colonies were wiped out by a pest.{{more}}

This assessment was made by Bo Sterk, Florida’s 2011 Bee Keeper of the Year, and a consultant from the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA), who last week paid a one-week visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to assess the progress made in the local Apiculture Industry.

Sterk was here from from November 28 to December 2 under the auspices of the recently registered Bee Keepers Association which has been toiling relentlessly over the past 5 years to have the Industry back on its feet.

The dilemma struck in 1999 when the local colonies suffered an attack by the ferocious Verroa mite which decimated all the hives except for nine on the mainland.

“When I came here in 2006, there were no bees in the Grenadines; there were only nine colonies on St.Vincent and some in the wild. The Bee Keepers Association was mobilized and an assessment was made of the disease that was affecting the bees. The aim then was to have the bees back into the state as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of an invasion of Africanize bees through container ships docking at the ports. So, bees were imported from St. Lucia and Hawaii. These were very docile and had the characteristic for honey production that was being sought. They were also good for the Bee Keepers to work with. Now with the efforts of Mr. Allan Williams and the Bee keepers Association, there are 375 colonies managed by 30 registered Bee Keepers. I am excited about it and have spoken with the authorities to now look at the aspect of putting measures in place to keep out the Africanized bees and preventing problems in the future. We are going to keep moving forward with it (the Industry),” Sterk said.

Allan Williams, Apicultural Officer, also stated that the process was a long one that was relentlessly pursued. He stated that the assessment included a visit to all the apiaries in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, a meeting and debriefing with the Minister and other officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and the local Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) representative, the latter having been instrumental in procuring technical assistance from FAVACA. This was followed by a meeting and training session with the Bee Keepers association and it members.

“I congratulate the Bee Keepers in taking the risks in choosing honey production as a means of obtaining income for their families. It’s a lucrative venture which should attract more farmers. We have moved from 10 to 375 colonies producing over 1000 gals of pure honey,” Williams said.

He also pointed out that in addition to the production of honey, the bees have been instrumental in increasing the production of fruits, as pollination is on the increase.

“We are very excited and presently, there is only room for improvement. Even though our greater efforts are now concentrated on honey production, we are looking at the investment in other products such as the production of wax, royal jelly and other area such as the production of equipment used in the Industry.”

Local statistics indicate that since the increase in the production of local honey, the cost and volume of imported honey has decreased:

The Ministry of Agriculture congratulates the Bee Keepers, and recognizes the tremendous support of IICA, FAVACA and the EU funded ADP( ADP provided the funds for the importation of the bees etc) that were instrumental in assisting the government in making this tremendous turn around in the Industry and honors the partnership formed among all involved.

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