Aspiring and current beekeepers in the territory got information on harvesting and maintaining bees during a beekeeping workshop at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix.
The weeklong event – a combining of the seventh Caribbean Beekeeping Congress and second Caribbean Bee College – was hosted by UVI Cooperative Extension Service and Agriculture Experiment Station.
Professors from the University of Florida and members from the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers Organizations gave lectures and hands-on lessons for beekeeping – as well as the strategies for sustaining small-scale beekeeping operations.
District supervisor and event organizer Carlos Robles said both the Caribbean Beekeeping Congress and Caribbean Bee College gave current and hopeful beekeepers, along with individuals doing the trade as hobby, the correct information they might need to become a beekeeper in the territory.
“It gives them enough foundation for managing bees,” Robles said, adding that after attending a bee congress and college workshop in Grenada in 2010, he thought “marrying the two events” on St. Croix would be a great idea.
ACBO President Gladstone Solomon delivered the keynote address on his finding on beekeeping in the Caribbean. Solomon said all of the countries were capable of having strong local beekeeping industries.
Researchers from Florida provided information on beekeeping equipment, honeybee biology, bee pests and disease control, rearing honeybee queens and swarm control.
Toni Downs, a St. Croix beekeeper, gave her perspective on nurturing bees on the island. “I do bee removal,” Downs said, adding that it and beekeeping are a great source of income.
She said participating in the Taste of St. Croix, Crucian Fusion and Buzzaar were great promotional opportunities for her as a beekeeper; she also sells honey soap, jam, jelly, chutney and other honey products on the weekends.
Gary VanCleef, apiary inspection supervisor of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shared information on maintaining honeybees and strongly recommended that “an individual read a beginners book on beekeeping, join a local state bee club and apprentice with a local beekeeper.”
Wanda Wright, owner of Wright Apiary, sold and gave samples of her honey wine. Wright said she has roughly 30 hives on the east end of the island.
Local honey products and beekeeping books were for sale in the Great Hall.
The workshop continues Friday with topics on bee botany, honeybee management and other presentations starting 8:30 a.m.