$10-million subsidy for beekeeping industry

STATE minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklin Witter has announced that the beekeeping industry will receive a subsidy of $10 million for the purchasing of sugar as feed for their bee colonies.

This subsidy marks a 100 per cent increase over last year’s allocation.

The subsidy is aimed at providing support specifically during the period when there is a reduction in nectar-producing plants.

“As a ministry, we are aware of the importance of bees and bee-keeping within agriculture. Through our Apiculture Unit in the Research and Development Division, I can confidently say that significant work is being done to ensure that the beekeeping industry is supported and remains viable,” stated Witter.

He was speaking at the ministry’s World Bee Day celebration held at the ministry’s Hope Gardens complex on Friday, May 20, 2022 under the theme ‘Bee Engaged — celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’.

“In recent times our bee population has been threatened by climate change, the introduction of new pests and diseases, as well as exposure to harmful pesticides,” said Witter.

He added that climate change has resulted in reduced habitat and food sources for bees, and that several measures have been put in place by the Apiculture Unit to reduce these threats.

“Part of our efforts include the sourcing of 2,050 fruit trees which have been distributed by our Apiculture Unit to various beekeepers’ associations throughout the island for planting,” shared Witter.

The ministry has also been putting in measures to protect and safeguard the national honeybee stock, which is integral in the production of several hive products such as honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis and venom.

In addition, the management of pests and diseases that affect bee colonies — such as Varroa mites, small hive beetles as well as American Foulbrood disease (AFB) — is a focus area for the ministry.

“During the last financial year over 16,000 routine hive inspections were carried out, in 1,220 apiary visits across the island, for AFB. From these inspections, no clinical symptoms of the disease were detected during the period,” declared Witter.

He commended the ministry’s Apiculture Unit, bee farmers, and associated stakeholders on the work being done to support the development of the beekeeping industry.

“My hope is that we will leave here today with a greater appreciation for bees and the value of the industry — as well as the work that has been set in motion to strengthen and protect it,” he added.

Jamaica has a growing beekeeping industry with over 67,000 colonies managed by beekeepers, and is recognised as the main producer of honey in the English-speaking Caribbean.

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