Twenty-five local beekeepers have been trained in rearing queen bees.
Thanks to a three-week initiative organized by the Antigua Beekeepers Cooperative (ABC) in collaboration with the Iyanola Apiculture Collective (IAC) from St. Lucia with technical support from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
The organizers say that the project faced several challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic which limited the movement of persons and imposed curfews.
“In the end, the group embraced the opportunity to make slight adjustments to the project and built a new and fruitful partnership with the Iyanola Apiculture Collective (IAC) through Mr. Richard Matthias, Master Beekeeper from Saint Lucia,” according to a statement from the organizers.
The purpose of the project first and foremost, was to ensure that beekeepers in both “Antigua and Barbuda were furnished with tools and equipment, trained in new hive monitoring technology, and benefitted from hands-on mentoring and capacity-building opportunities for queen rearing and hive management”.
During the three-week training, the terrain of both St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda was scourged, seeking out suitable sites for queen rearing, and evaluating potential foraging grounds for bees.
“During the queen-rearing training, Mr. John Fredrick and Mr. Richard Matthias from IAC, Saint Lucia guided the activities, which were divided into practical and theoretical sessions in both Antigua and Barbuda. Activities commenced in Barbuda with the prepping and setting up of starter colonies to produce queen cells, as well as the re-introduction capacity building sessions in queen-rearing and hive management practices for the local beekeepers,” the organizers added.
Ninety larvae were grafted in three batches, the organizers said, which resulted in 38 queen cells being produced.
“These will be distributed to the beekeepers in Barbuda. In Antigua, a total of one hundred and twenty-seven 127 larvae were grafted, which resulted in 111 queen cells producing an 87% success rate will be distributed to the membership of the Cooperative, in Antigua the distributed queens will be monitored and evaluated by senior beekeepers within the Cooperative by collecting relevant data such as temperament, honey production as well as brood production,” they added.
15 women benefited from the project and according to the organizers, continuous “training using this method of increasing our local honey bee population will be repeated at selective intervals during the year to strengthen the Cooperative as well as increase the bee population in Antigua and Barbuda”