In last night’s newscast we presented you with the work being done to prepare for the arrival of a bug that may potentially close down the honey production industry in Belize. However, while the work entails preparing bee keepers to shift into better practices, there is already another factor that has caused significant loss to the industry. Over the past weeks, the heavy rains have caused flooding in several parts of the country affecting residential areas, crop and road access. Among those affected have been bee keepers who have seen great losses. Reporter Dalila ical has that story.


Screen_Shot_2013-12-19_at_6.12.34_PMDalila Ical – Reporting

 

Several weeks of rain has finally taken its toll on the bee keeping industry, among other industries. The industry is already small and efforts to expand it have been an ongoing endeavour for the Agriculture Department.

 

The weather, however, is making this all the more challenging. Margarito Leiva, Extension Officer attached to the Bee Keeping industry says that the rains have flooded roads leading to apiaries and flooded entire apiaries as well. This has resulted in major loss for bee keepers.

 

Margarito Leiva – Extension Officer


“Normally Bees they require honey and pollen to eat so to survive and because of the nature of the Bees that we have, which is Africanize Bees these are tropical bees and they tend to consume all the honey that they have.  Normally all beekeeper tend to feed their colonies in the month of October and November but due to the excessive rains some of the road leading to the acre became inaccessible so were not able to feed them ad once the Bee don’t have any food they would just squander and leave that is the nature.”


Bee keepers in the Progresso and Copper Bank Village areas have seen their share of loss.

 

Margarito Leiva – Extension Officer


“It is a lot for instance if you take into consideration Orange Walk we lost almost 240 colonies if we should multiply that by the amount of pounds that we collect per hive which is around 75 pounds per hive you cans see how much no, and you sale that honey by $4.50 per pound it is a huge revenue that we lost and it is less money on the pockets of many people.”

 

Carlos Manuel Duarte – Bee Keeper


“Bueno yo ya perdí como 20 cajas dobles, pues ahora en el aproarías ayer perdí 7, en este perdí 2 y si pongo en todo ya perdí como 20 ya. En todo esto yo ya perdí como tres tambos de miel de perdido y eso es más como unos 6 mil dólares.”

Marcus Antonio Rivas – Bee Keeper


“Yo he perdido 5 y como yo chequeo lo de mi esposa ella ya perdió tres.”


For his part, Rivas estimates he will lose somewhere around two thousand dollars throughout the coming season which starts around mid February and runs for at least five to six months thereafter.

 

This is only one part of the problem. Leiva says the bees that left their colonies have migrated into populated areas.

 

Margarito Leiva – Extension Officer


“I would say close to 50% of the colonies just have squandered, we had a high level of the Bee reported in Towns especially in bakeries where they use a lot of sugar and the bees just try to go there, they are displaced because they don’t have feed; you find then in schools, in trash cans, little residues of syrup or soft drink they would just for it because they don’t have nothing to feed so we took some steeps to actually minimize getting stinks and so forth.  One of the steps is that we encourage students and we told teacher that we want students to if they are going to leave some residues in the bottle or whatever to just dispose of it before introducing the container in the trash can or whatever and to close the trash can, we on the other point we try to find the swamps and eradicate them as well.”


To salvage what is left of the colonies, the department is encouraging keepers to do their best to ensure their bees are fed. This is achieved by placing sugar in the colonies. Pollen can also be substituted with yeast flour that is made into cakes which bees can feed off, grow and increase the colonies.

 

While the department has had to eradicate some of the bees that migrated into residential areas, they are also hoping to use some of these very same bees to help bee keepers restock.

 

Margarito Leiva – Extension Officer


“At this point in time due to the amount of swarms that we have lost what we have tried to do in the next two months is to probably try to hive the swarms and to actually issue to farmers so as to restock those that were lost.  We are also trying to provide some queens, as I mention to you the queens are very important instrument on holding the beetle, we will be producing a type of queen that is highly hygienic, the more hygienic the bees is the less tendency will have to have diseases and pest in colony.”


The hope is for the colonies to be restored and that bee keepers can gain their earnings once the season begins.

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