For the whole month of July I’m here in Jamaica working on a Farmer to Farmer top bar beekeeping project funded by USAID and administer by Partners of the America. Right now we’re in the process of setting up a model apiary at Yerba Buena Farm in northern St. Mary’s Parish on the north coast. We will also be training interested people as they come forth.
The idea is to incorporate different styles of top bar hives and the related equipment in this model apiary so people interested in this can see what can be done and adjust things according to their economic condition or interests. Most all beekeeping in Jamaica seems to be in Langstroth hives. But some of the current beekeepers have heard of the top bar system and are interested in learning more of it and maybe incorporating it into their operations.
One thing that seems to interest them is the ability to get more wax which is a problem in Jamaica. It can’t be imported so the beekeepers here have to find ways to get enough so they can get the foundation they need—especially if they are expanding. According to the people hosting my visit that means robbing wild colonies. Several of these beekeepers should be coming by next week to work with us and learn more of this system.
I don’t expect every beekeeper in Jamaica to change their system—Langstroth hives are the norm here and usually are more appropriate for commercial beekeepers. However there definitely seems to be a need to expose Jamaicans to this system, especially if they want to do beekeeping on a small scale or have economic challenges in buying or making frame hives (can be expensive for many people here—the same situation that I see in Honduras).
I will continue to post photos and comments about this project and about what I’m seeing with beekeeping here in Jamaica. At the moment, however, I only have internet access maybe every other day. I will try to answer any questions you might have or investigate anything you might be interested in. Just be a bit patient with me getting back to you. But if everything goes as planned, I will have full-time internet access sometime next week.
I also want to give a big thanks to Dennis Murrell of the Bee Nartural web site who put me in contact with Yerba Buena Farm. The people here initially contacted him and he passed my name along to them. Thanks a lot Dennis.
These are the signs that the folks at Yerba Buena Farm made to spread the word about this beekeeping project. People have been seeing them and there have been several inquiries that will be interesting to follow up on. One was from a newspaper reported who I will eventually be talking with about top bar beekeeping.
Here Kwao Adams, the owner of Yerba Buena Farm, is nailing up one of the signs in one of the neighboring communities. The farm also has two university students from the States who are doing an internship there for the summer. One is studying agricultural development and the other economics.
We stopped by this beekeeper just briefly so I could be introduced to him. He’s a commercial beekeeper with approximately 180 hives—and if I understood him correctly there are 160 in this yard that is next to his house. I’ll have a chance to visit with him more in the next several days so I should be able to give every one more information about him and his operation.
Honey in a Jamaican supermarket. The present exchange rate is about 87 Jamaican dollars to one American dollar. One of their most famous honeys is from the log wood tree. Up in the Blue Mountains the coffee is flowering right now and we had a chance to try honey from it—actually quite a bit since the family here uses honey a lot. It has a really good flavor.
The small beach that forms part of Yerba Buena Farm.
I’ll stop with this for the moment but try to continue to post photos and comments of the project and what I’m seeing with Jamaican beekeeping.