Youth project is buzzing

Shamille Scott

Wednesday, October 10, 2012    

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THE buzzing of bees doesn't inhibit him. In three years, he hopes to be his own boss, focusing only on bees.

Fabian Williams got a push start from the Rural Youth Employment (RUYE) Project developed in response to the incidence of poverty and unemployment.

He is one of the 40 youngsters aged 15 to 29 who make up the Llandewey group in Western St Thomas. They chose bee-keeping and honey processing to generate income. The objective of RUYE was to include a segment of youth that was unattached in rural Jamaica.

The RUYE project provided five bee hives for each individual. The group opted to take four hives each, leaving one for in the community apiary for newcomers.

The project, an initiative of the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica, was made possible through a US $1.25-million ($112-million) support from the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme.

Williams only heard about RUYE after all the group members had been selected.

Though he started late, he doubled his efforts and has been pointed out as an outstanding bee-keeper.

"Once you get a start in life, you have to put your heart and mind to it," Williams said.

Along with bee hives the project also provided protective gear and designed a honey-processing facility from which the youths bottle, label and sell their products.

He multiplied his four hives to 25 within eight months and has so far reaped 25 gallons of honey.

The group has so far produced in excess of 400 quarts of honey.

At the start of the project in 2010 the SRC said, all remaining constant these bee-keepers can earn approximately $60,000 from five hives per year.

Williams has made up to $50,000 in two reaping seasons. He sells them to people in his community and to some shop owners.

Reaping can last up to two months. The honey is sold in varying quantities, a gallon, a quart or a pint.

However with the training received the members of the group have surpassed the minimum amount of hives given to them and have multiplied them triple fold and more.

Williams was acquainted with bee-keeping prior to the project, but the 26-year-old wasn't keen on doing meddling with the flying insects.

Though November is the ideal month to start reaping, Williams has already begun preparation of his own two acre farm.

"I don't sit and let the bees wait on me. I start early," Williams said.

The process takes time. "I get a few stings, but I have to be patient, he said.

Bee-keeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the bee colony and sold.

Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.

The queen bee is given clean boxes to lay its eggs. Added to that, Williams provides an area for the bees to thrive with enough plants and trees to access its food, the pollen.

Money that is made through the sale of honey is used to buy boxes, the mesh, and the foundation that the bees need. He hopes to add to his 26 current boxes, he wants to employ some youngsters in his community.

The project has provided a number of training workshops such as, human and social skills, business development, entrepreneurship, mentorship, technical bee-keeping, and honey-processing training, the SRC said.

Though Williams missed out on some of the training sessions, he said he has put some of the advice into practice.

"I ensure I make note of everything I buy for the bees," he said.



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