Gladstone Solomon is President of the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers\' Organisations, and President of Tobago Beekeepers\' Association. An experienced and skilled beekeeper, Gladstone is a professional trainer and researcher and has organised 5 Caribbean Beekeeping Congresses.
Here he gives advice to a would-be beekeeper, wishing to embark upon this fascinating and rewarding business.
Hello Mr. Solomon,
I am a Barbadian currently living in the UK. As a result of articles in the local and Barbadian press, I recently became aware of the problems facing the apiculture industry in many parts of the world. The net result of these articles is that I was moved to contact Bees for Development here in the UK, to get information/advice/training to take back to Barbados to set up beekeeping. They referred me to you. In one of the articles mentioned in the Barbadian press, The Minister of Agriculture recently said that apiculture has the potential to be a sustainable form of employment for people.
So if possible could you
Entrepreneur from UK / Barbados
Let me start this by congratulating you on your interest in beekeeping, and, getting straight to the heart of the matter, add that a big part of being successful in beekeeping has to do with one\'s perspective. Genuine interest is what is needed to ensure sustainability.
It is challenging to give you a brief explanation of what would be involved in setting up a beekeeping venture in Barbados as there are many factors to consider. I\'m assuming of course that you know little about the subject.
Basically you have to know a bit of bee biology, a bit about the flora and weather conditions in the area you are considering, then some basic beekeeping principles & techniques, you also have to source basic input supplies which may not be available locally except perhaps through a beekeeper or association. Location also has to be considered as there could be liability issues with neighbours and/or local regulations. You should be able to source start up bees from existing beekeepers in B\'dos (I understand that there a not many, but have no real information on that score). On top of that there will be bee-health issues to deal with, the Caribbean is not insulated from what is happening globally.
Beekeeping is one of those disciplines where you should get a good idea of what you are getting into, before getting into it. There are over 200,000 sites on google under \"getting started in beekeeping\".
You should also attend an introductory beekeeping course if possible, and establish contact with beekeepers in the UK, you will be able to transfer the knowledge to Caribbean conditions.
Regarding feasibility, here\'s a quote from a now deceased beekeeper in Tobago ...\"there is money in honey, but you have to know how to change the H in honey to the M in Money, and that\'s through Management\"...the key to beekeeping feasibility is knowing how to manage bees.
So that was a brief overview I hope you are encouraged to build on it.
Regards Gladstone Solomon
Dear Mr. Solomon
Thanks very much for such a detailed response, it has been very helpful but to be honest I am not sure Barbados is ready for such an endeavour. I say that because like many other \'bright ideas\' that have been mentioned before, I am not sure the government has the things in place to provide the support for an inexperienced person like me to get into beekeeping. I am quite willing to join my local association here but then I have to ask myself what would be the point because beekeeping here would be totally different to that in Barbados and I would not have the necessary support that I need. What do you think?
Entrepreneur from UK / Barbados
Generically, beekeeping principles are the same all over the world, local conditions require appropriate adaptations of that basic set of principles. Getting involved locally (in the UK) would enable you to understand and appreciate what is involved in beekeeping, and from that body of knowledge that you would have acquired, you would be better able to conceptualise what adjustment are required to do beekeeping in B\'dos or any other place.
Forgive my frankness, but the perspective should be not whether B\'dos is ready for such and endeavour, but whether you are ready, or are prepared to become ready, so that there will be less need to rely on the State.
Please do not underestimate what is required to be successful in beekeeping, nor at this stage entertain visions of a big operation employing numbers of people, that takes me back to the first paragraph in this mail, and the first paragraph in my last mail
My final position is this, it is your decision whether you get involved in beekeeping or not, in making that decision you should get an understanding of what is involved, a sense of how beekeeping is done in the UK, with adjustments for different climate in the Caribbean, is a good starting point.
Best wishes, Gladstone
This correspondence has been edited by Bees for Development