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Beekeeping Project in Tobago

EUROCHAMTT Tobago good foods project

Five advanced Tobago beekeepers who together own most of the colonies in Tobago have been aiming to eliminate the widening gap between the supply and demand for honey and to provide enough supply to offer the specialty retail, restaurants and hotel industry in Tobago. Their main challenge had been the slow rate of natural multiplication of queen bees and ability to retain the bees given high losses from predators or other causes such as disease. Each hive requires a queen and therefore ability to rear queens was critical for expansion of hives

The Tobago Good Foods project provided a technical expert from France to train the beekeepers in queen bee rearing techniques. This was accomplished over 3 missions, each lasting 2 weeks.

Joint Apiary

A joint site and apiary was agreed

Each beekeeper selected and brought a healthy hive from their individual apiaries to the joint site

All training, technical assistance and grafting has been conducted at this site.

Grafting

1 to 2 day old larvae are removed from the combs and placed into the grafting cups. These cups are fitted to frames and the frames are placed into starter hives with many worker bees but no queen. The worker bees will begin to rear and feed the larvae with royal jelly and nurture it to become a queen

Grafting

Cups being placed into starter or queen less hives

Smoking

Smoking calms the bees to allow you to remove the frames from the hives

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination demonstrations were done with the Consultant using the Consultant’s equipment which he brought to Tobago for the purpose of demonstration. Artificial insemination is another means of rearing queens and is often used to manage the genetics.

Artificial insemination of the queen bee needs very precise manipulations.

It also requires pre and post insemination care of the queens, collection and storage of the bee semen and the actual insemination technique.

Other Important Considerations affecting productivity of apiaries in Tobago were also observed by the technical expert.

These include:
Brood quality
Availability of adequate nectar for bees
Information on the Flowering patterns/ seasons
Information on weather patterns and rainfall
Treatment of diseases such as Varroa mite
These were also introduced and addressed during the missions

Open Training

At the end of the final mission of the technical expert from France, training was opened to other members of the apiculture society in Tobago. This took place on the 26th and 27th January 2016 at the Footprints Eco Resort. Nine additional beekeepers benefitted from the training.