The Ministry of Agriculture and Land, through its Apiculture Unit, is on a drive to increase honey production by 50,000 gallons by 2008 to augment the 131,000 gallons produced in 2005. As a result, the Ministry has allocated some $35,000 for traps to control the small hive beetle, which is a pest affecting the bee and honey industry.
Hugh Smith, Senior Plant Protection Officer in the Apiculture Unit, told JIS News that, “the Ministry wants to maximize the output of honey. We are not able to meet local demand presently and there is the large export market. the European Union, which we are unable to satisfy.”
“The small hive beetle is a new pest, which reduces the output of honey,” Mr. Smith explained and, “the beetle punctures the honey cells exposing it to excess moisture, which causes fermentation of the honey. Fermented honey does not have a high value on the market.”
He added that the beetle forced the bee out of the hive as it cannot tolerate the fermented honey, and the beetle also consumes the honey, the pollen and the larvae of the bee. The pest is destructive as it sabotages the production of the honeybee and the production of the colony.
Noting that the pest overruns and destroys weak colonies, Mr. Smith explained, “you will end up with low honey output or nothing at all from the hives. The beetle affects the output of the colonies by destroying the hive products and as a result, the farmer loses his yield for the year.”
As it relates to the supply of honey, Mr. Smith pointed out that the honey bottling plant in Linstead, that is controlled by the Beekeeper’s Association needed supplies, along with support from investors, who use honey as an important ingredient in their products.
Yet, in spite of the small hive beetle, Mr. Smith said, “some low-producing hives produce an average of six to eight gallons per hive per year, some hives produce 15 to 16 gallons per hive per year, commanding $1,000 per gallon and some beekeepers obtain 28 to 30 gallons per hive per year, with 30 gallons fetching $30,000 (from one hive)”.