Monday, January 13, 2014

Beekeeping in Jamaica

Melanie (holding the comb) in the training apiary at Yerba Buena Farm
This past December, honeybee breeder Melanie Kirby spent 2 weeks providing hands-on beekeeping training to various groups throughout Jamaica. The holiday season was commencing so many of the beekeeping associations with which Melanie met were also holding their end of year celebrations. This lent a festive and lively air to the workshops!  

One focus of Melanie’s assignment was to introduce concepts of queen rearing. Establishing quality breeding stock that is acclimated to local conditions is vital for a productive hive. Additionally, good recordkeeping and communication with fellow beekeepers can help beekeepers gain a better understanding of area stock genetics. Besides giving lectures and PowerPoint presentations, Melanie also engaged in Q&A sessions with local beekeeper associations, and led trainings at Yerba Buena Farm. In the photo above, she is demonstrating the skill of grafting.

One of Melanie’s most unique experiences was working with the Robin’s Bay Bee Club, the island’s first children’s beekeeping club. She taught the kids some basics of beekeeping like how pollination works, how to recognize bee castes, how to put on a veil, how to light a smoker, and how to approach and open a top-bar hive. On her last day in Jamaica, Melanie had the opportunity to attend the bee club’s end of year party. This event was held to celebrate the second year of the beekeeping club and to recognize the children who were graduating and ready to receive their own hives!

Melanie working with Robin's Bay Bee Club members