The future of beekeeping in Barbados appears to be in safe hands as scores of young people show an interest in learning the art of apiculture.
General Manager of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) Ryan Als informed the media last weekend that the commission is unable at this time to facilitate training for the scores of young Barbadians wanting to be a part of the annual Junior Beekeepers Programme.
Als indicated that there has been an overwhelming response from young persons interested in participating in the programme which previously catered to around eight participants per course but has now been increased to 16.
The general manager explained that there are usually 100-plus persons applying to participate in the programme, which he said shows the need to significantly increase the number of participants per course.
“We are currently a little overwhelmed with the interests and we are trying to get as many young people into beekeeping. It is not only a skill for them to have small businesses when they grow up. And even before they grow up, we do have young beekeepers that have hives and they get honey and wax and it is a small amount of money that they may receive from the sale of these things.
“Really, it is the knowledge and the enthusiasm that we encourage. As they get more skilled in beekeeping, then we look forward to the benefits of having more bees in our ecosystems. As they graduate from the course, we work with them on an individual basis. They come to the apery and they see different techniques.”
During the 12-week Saturday programme, persons between ages six and 16 receive training on the conservation of honeybees, how they benefit the environment and contribute to biodiversity.
He said: “Our focus for the programme is the environment and the balance in nature. The programme started years ago back in 2012, but it had a break for a little while and we restarted the programme some two years ago to have the junior beekeepers back dealing with environmental matters and the conservation of help organisms within our environment. Bees are responsible for the pollination of the majority of our plants, contribute to food security, and to the variety of plants that we have”.
Als added that while the programme focused on bee conservation, there is also a need for persons to become interested in plant propagation (the process of creating new plants” which would eventually lead to them setting up their own nurseries. (AH)