JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture is urging bee farmers islandwide to register their apiaries with the Apiculture Unit of the Ministry by January 31.
In an interview with JIS News, Senior Plant Protection Officer in the Unit, Hugh Smith said there was a legal requirement for all bee keepers islandwide to inform the Ministry in writing of their names, addresses, the location of their apiaries, and the number of hives that were present in each apiary. This requirement is part of the Bee Control Act.
“Once the information comes in, even if they write it on a sheet of paper, it is accepted,” he noted.
Mr. Smith said it was critical that farmers register, “as this enables the Ministry to work more efficiently if there is a threat of pests and diseases, and it also allows the [Ministry] to do planning for the industry as a whole”.
He noted that to date, there were 1,700 bee farmers across the island that are registered with the Apiculture Unit. He added that the number of bee keepers fluctuated each year, because many farmers failed to consistently register with the Unit at the beginning of each year, which made it difficult for the Unit to “keep count” of the correct number of bee keepers.
With respect to registration after the deadline, he said this was facilitated on the basis that there were changes to an apiary, such as an increase or decrease in the number of hives in the apiary. In such cases, he stressed that registration must be done within 30 days.
Mr. Smith emphasized that farmers need not fear relaying details of their farms to the Unit, as specific information given to the Unit, such as the number of hives a farmer had, was kept confidential, unless the farmer requested that such information be relayed to a third party.
The greatest disadvantage for not registering, Mr. Smith said, was that farmers would not benefit from the extension services of the Apiculture Unit. In addition, he said that farmers could face penalties under the law for not registering.
At present, Mr. Smith said that the Unit has begun revising the Bee Keeping Act, which was first drafted in 1918 and revised in 1968. Many of the regulations in the Act, he pointed out, were outdated, and were inconsistent with the current era. “We have started doing some of this revision.and we will be doing that for the next four to six quarters. We have set it [the Act] as one of our targets,” he added.
In order to be registered, Mr. Smith reiterated that farmers need only to write a letter, addressed to the Chief Apiculture Officer of the Apiculture Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bodles Research Station, Old Harbour P.O., St. Catherine. Farmers are also free to email the Officer at rwpeddy@moa.gov.jm or bodlesresearch@moa.gov.jm. In addition, farmers may visit the Offices of the Unit and complete an application form.

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