Farmers encouraged to integrate beekeeping into their farming
Cornelius Richards (left) and Allan Smith at the Beekeping Congress
November 29, 2022

Farmers encouraged to integrate beekeeping into their farming

Facilitators of the 11th Beekeeping Congress, Cornelius Richards and Allan Smith are encouraging farmers to integrate beekeeping into their farming as a means of gaining a sustainable income.

“Like any business, it takes a while before you start making a profit; but of course, we will encourage anybody to become involved in beekeeping, especially youths,” Richards said in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT.

He was speaking following the 11th Regional Beekeeping Congress which was held in St Vincent from October 30 to November 2, 2022 under the theme: Building the Resilience of a Beekeeping Industry after a Natural Disaster.

The purpose of the Congress was to show the resiliency of bees, its ability to recover after natural disasters, and to develop ways in which this process can be assisted.

Richards who was the co-ordinator of the event said there is an opportunity for anyone to come into the beekeeping sector as the local economy can do with an injection of funds.

He said although the initial cost may be a bit challenging, anyone who invests in beekeeping will be able to recover and experience more profits after the business develops, and there is an opportunity here for young people.

“One of the things that the United Nation has been pushing over the years is the question of gender and youths; and so there’s an opportunity here for young persons.”

Richards further explained that once the bee colonies have been established, one must religiously work on maintaining them, but the bees look after themselves to an extent.

“It’s not like tending a crop… I would encourage anybody to consider it as an opportunity.”

Richards also said that honey and bees play a very important part in the cosmetics industry. He said at the recent Vincy Expo there were a lot of products on display, such as creams and soap…that included amounts of honey.

“So it doesn’t simply reside with keeping a hive and reaping honey; there are a lot of other benefits that you can add value to down the road. We want to get Vincentians dedicated enough to understand this and to see the opportunities that exist in any production.”

Richards claimed that while there is not enough attention being paid to bees there has certainly been an increase in appreciation and interest.

“At one time, bees were pretty much eradicated because of diseases on the island…and ever since the reintroduction of new colonies, we have seen an increase not only in honey production, but we’ve seen an increase in other crops as well that directly depends on bees for pollination”, Richards explained.

Agriculture Instructor/ Beekeeping Extension, Allan Smith said one thing that did not come up in the congress but what they really hope to feature, is the exhibition of a bee maze which is used as a learning tool for persons to go through a journey to be exposed to the various aspects of beekeeping.

“…It will be a learning experience…we have that apparatus set up for future training and [to give] information about the importance of bees and what kind of nation, sectors or products that you could actually obtain a livelihood from, and the importance of preserving them in a natural environment as much as possible”.

He added that before the year is finished, there will, hopefully, be a portrayal of the educational aspect of beekeeping. He noted that when World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20 next year the local beekeepers association hopes to continue a level of extension and training of the populace in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Smith said that one of the most important results attained is that the government has placed an immediate ban on the importation of Malathion whose use would become effective on December 31.

Bee keepers said this chemical, which is being used in the fogging of mosquitoes, has had a deleterious effect on the local bee population.

Participants at the Regional Bee Congress came from Guyana, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Argentina and USA and Smith said they were able to share the different ways in which their apiculture industry is progressing and some of the methods they use to try and mitigate problems in the industry.

The organisers say the deliberations of the Congress would be posted online at a later date on the website of the Association of Caribbean Beekeeping Organisation (ACBO).

There is also a course magazine where the whole experience of the congress would be showcased to all participants, and to other persons who are interested in benefiting from the deliberations.

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