Caribbean fears on World Bee Day

by Janine Mendes Franco

On May 20, the world celebrates its fourth anniversary World Bee Day Via prof Hypothetical event Hosted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Guided by the topic “Sharing Bees – Building Back Better Bees”.

Bees play an important role in pollination, a process essential to the survival of ecosystems, biodiversity, food security and sustainability, and they have been threatened at rates 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to habitat loss and other human impacts, including the climate crisis. Unsustainable agricultural methods such as monoculture and the harmful effects of pesticides have done great harm to the world’s bee population.

This year’s event aims to bring global awareness of the ways in which it is being done Covid-19 The pandemic has increased food insecurity, with calls for ways to regenerate the environment and protect these vital pollinators.

Across the Caribbean, social media users have done their part in increasing awareness and engagement over WhatsApp and other communication channels via videos about the event. Other than Aimed at teaching children the importance of bees. Saint Lucia has a World Bee Day Discussion Who recorded the progress of the beekeeping industry on the island.

In Jamaica, the United Nations Development Program Center on Biodiversity and Ecologically Sensitive Area Country cockpit, Where the beekeepers’ work is evidence of the fact that respect for nature can go hand in hand with development – it is, after all, the only sustainable approach.

Aside from its environmental importance, Cockpit Country has a great connection to Jamaica historically. It was a rugged landscape of limestone Maroon He hid after escaping from slavery under British rule. However, the region continues to be threatened by the unsustainable practices that are largely driven by it. to me United Nations Development Program, “By small farmers who cut down trees to make yam sticks and charcoal.” And she continued in her report:

Sustainable livelihood alternatives like beekeeping spread biodiversity fighters and pollinators to support environmentally friendly income generation opportunities.

A solitary bee draws nectar from what is known locally as “rabbit grass” in the Carmel Valley region. Photography by Monique Johnson, used with permission.

Beekeeper Liv Johnson and his sister Monique run the family-owned business Carmel Valley Real Estate In northwest Trinidad, agree. For bees to live and thrive in the way they need to be, they say, support is critical.

In a phone interview, Lev noted that “indiscriminate deforestation” is one of the biggest threats. Forestry Department The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is excellent, it is “severely understaffed”. Bees and other pollinators face loss of habit as a result of clearing land for housing and agriculture. In the mountain farming community in Paramin, for example, he says the land is cleared by acres, but farmers don’t replant depleted forest areas at the same rate.

Meanwhile, in farming communities on the country’s east coast, Lev notes that pesticide poisoning is a big challenge. Many farmers Go to pesticides It “wipes out everything,” including domestic pollinators. Trinidad and Tobago has as many as 50 species of The bees are stinging Falling into this category.

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Other challenges facing local bee populations include the intermittent spraying of previously inhabited bee populations Insect vector control At the Ministry of Health, in an effort to curb mosquito spread. Beekeepers across the country are asking the department to communicate more effectively about their spray schedule so that they can move their bees to a safe area. Although the ministry website Says Their approach includes “a safe, effective and economical integration of all appropriate and sustainable vector control measures,” Leif says the chemicals they use kill bees on contact.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions have made protecting bees even more difficult for Trinidad and Tobago. More than 300 registered beekeepers And more than 7000 bee colonies. The country is currently under Emergency, With curfews imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. given that bees only return to their hives in the evening, this poses a problem for beekeepers who have had difficulty getting exemptions from the curfew if they need to move their bees in the event of a spray schedule. Additionally, most beekeeping operations are not overt. Beekeeping tends to take place in forested areas, many of which may be frontier farms that use hazardous chemicals.

Beekeepers at a Carmel Valley farm in Trinidad. Photography by Monique Johnson, used with permission.

However, there is hope. Current Minister of Agriculture, Clarence Ramparat, Has shown an “active interest” in the beekeeping community and understands the importance of keeping bees healthy. In Trinidad and Tobago there are four different types Beekeeping OrganizationsGeographically dispersed, which calls for legislation against the use of pesticides. “Many of the chemicals used here are being marketed as“ safe, ”says Leif,“ such as NeonicotinoidToxic to bees – and it was Prohibited In the countries of the European Union. ”However, in the absence of such legislation, the onus is on consumers to educate themselves and make informed decisions.

Carmel Valley Estate is home to 60 bee colonies, which are the center of its operations. Any crops grown by the Johnson family, such as cocoa, are grown without the use of toxic chemicals, but the impacts of the climate crisis still have an impact. Trinidad and Tobago has just emerged from an unusually rainy dry season, which Lev says has negatively affected production. “The rain removes the nectar in the flowers, and the bees cannot fly when their wings are wet, so we don’t even save 25 percent of what we normally produce. The season ends in June, and since most other honey producers suffer from a similar shortage,” he explains. The price of honey is rising, making the product out of the reach of the average consumer. ”

To do its part in increasing the bee population, the Tobago Beekeeping Association has done it Offered for sale 150 European queen bees at TT $ 100 each (about $ 15 USD) for interested beekeepers. While the organization acts as the primary networking group for the island beekeepers, anyone interested in learning about bees can become a member for a small annual fee.

Leif says, however, that the average home owner can start cultivating small habits with big rewards for the bees. He says, “Find alternatives to pesticides, or choose safer alternatives, like Bionim. ” Sustainable farming practices Is a good starting point. Strive to achieve biodiversity by growing a range of flowering plants and shrubs, in addition to fruit and vegetable trees. “Oranges, mangoes, avocados, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes and pumpkins are all great for honeybees, and you’ll get a much higher return from pollinating bees,” says Leif.

If you really want to help the bees, Monique adds, “Support the local beekeeper! [They are] Real supervisors and those who take time and have experience in beekeeping. Get to know them, communicate with them, discover their suffering and how the community can support them. “

Source: Global Voices

Photo: Bees from one of sixty colonies in the Carmel Valley region in northwest Trinidad. Photography by Monique Johnson, used with permission.

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