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Leighton Henry: The Philosophical Bee Farmer

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Why did you become interested in bee keeping?

 “I’ve always liked ants and always wanted an ant farm. Bees are flying ants with wings, they’re organized and productive.

 

Is this a lucrative field to be involved in?

 “Yes it is.”

Why are bees important?

“They help to pollinate plants – in short, they help plants and trees to produce more and better quality products.”

 

 

 

What advice do you have for anyone else who’d like to try?

 “I’m a novice, with less than a year’s worth of experience in research and assistance.

 Do it in the right location, maintain it frequently and properly.

 They need to be maintained every two weeks, minimum, or they could leave the hive – that’s $18,000 flying away. You can get training from the Apiculture Unit’s Research Centre in Bodles, St Catherine near Old Harbour.

 4 classes, 9-am-4pm 

Every last Thursday for 4 months and yes you can skip modules and drop back in another term. 

There are three for the year.

Contact Number – 1(876) 745-2960

 Be prepared to get stings, wear the proper gears and ensure you’re not allergic. It’s $5,000 for a suit last time I checked. It can be more expensive to get a more durable one online but it’s worth it regardless. The heat will be rough. Bees work best with warmth; when it rains frequently, you’ll have to feed them and they can’t leave to get resources.

 I’d say research – there are different boxes for different purposes as honey is said to be the least profitable product from a bee hive.  Carpentry comes in handy – know what materials you are using, as short cuts can cost you everything. Apiculture units can help you with trusted sources for boxes, etc.

 

 

Spreadsheets are my best friend – you’ll find that it’s not easy to get clear cut information from bee farmers as there is a great distrust among farmers to protect their apiary. Research isn’t practiced by the average bee farmer; even with training the best you can get is how much quart for the year per boxes they’ve produced. I had to break it down into drums, quarts, litres, pricing – wholesale/ regular, startup cost and I’m quite sure it all could be better organized. I network with bee farmers in a couple parishes and in farms across most parishes because bee farming and regular farming go hand in hand.

 Bee hive stealing is a thing but it’s only beneficial in the short term. The real wealth of bees is grasped over years – a man will say “money inna it” but also contributes to the environmental productivity of the bees. People are known for diluting honey follow trusted sources. Avoid low quality materials. Be wary of things that affect bees like diseases that could wipe out your investment. It can be up to $25,000 for a Box, so prevent carrying tools and equipment used in one apiary to another.

  With the tourism and housing scheme frenzy Jamaica has been in, we’re slowly but surely destroying our environment. The low rainfall has been a hindrance to the industry for the past couple years, meaning low resources for the bees along with the more relied upon pesticide farming. Theoretically you can manage 400 to 480 boxes (that’s two days every two weeks, so all your weekends essentially) and still do a regular job. Three hours is enough time to manage 40 boxes.

 

Solutions from Bees:

 Build multi storied spaces for housing and food production, use up less of the land, and create a better way to dispose and recycle our waste. Destroy our environment less, and use better public transportation that reduces the need for vehicles which reduces pollution (unless you need to be moving a large amount of items).  

 

I leave you with a story from “Apocalypto”, a film I watched in history class in 2008 (Big up Miss Peart, History Teacher and Librarian!)

 

“A Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, “We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.” The Man said, “I want to have good sight.” The vulture replied, “You shall have mine.” The Man said, “I want to be strong.” The jaguar said, “You shall be strong like me.” Then the Man said, “I long to know the secrets of the earth.” The serpent replied, “I will show them to you.” And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, “Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.” The deer said, “The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.” But the owl replied, “No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'”

 

 

 

Blessings in abundance!

 

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