A new Apiary (a location where beehives of honey bees are kept) was commissioned on Friday, May 25th 2018 on Union Island which will be operated by the Union Island Fisherfolk Cooperative. The main aim of the apiculture project is to provide alternative or complementary livelihood (honey production and sale) opportunities for fishers and associated families, with the aim of reducing pressure on fisheries resources.
By establishing this alternative livelihood, fishers would extract less from the marine environment if income can be derived from other sources to meet their needs and as a result, the health of the marine resources would improve.
A total of 30 Hives, various beekeeping materials and tools were handed over during a short ceremony held at the Apiary site at the Ashton Mangrove. Eight (8) persons received certificates for completing a Beekeeping training course conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the project.
Funding for the Traning, Tools and other beekeeping materials came from USAID through The Nature Conservancy and the Sustainable Grenadines Inc. (Susgren), while funding for the platform which supports the Apiary came from The Phillip Stephenson Foundation.
Technical support for the project came from the Ministry of Agriculture. Apiary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Allan Williams stated that Honey is in high demand in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Williams said that Bees play an important part in agriculture by assisting with pollination and many farmers have reported having better yield from their farms.
Beekeeping is environmentally friendly, it does not require any chemicals or produce pollution and is very beneficial for agriculture on the island, said Mr. James Lord, Director of Sustainable Grenadines Inc. He went on to tell the gathering that Union Island has ideal conditions for beekeeping because of its dry climate and especially the availability of Black Mangrove. Lord stated that Black Mangrove Honey sells for fifty percent more than the cost of regular honey in the USA.
Union Island is home to the largest mangrove patch in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is comprised of Black Mangrove. Black Mangrove Honey is in demand worldwide, in Kenya people prefer mangrove honey because of its medicinal value. Mangrove trees absorb a lot of nutrients from the sea and these are transferred to the nectar giving it the medicinal properties.
Some of the illnesses that can be treated using the mangrove honey are: smallpox, constipation, kidney stones, ulcers, toothaches, diarrhea, sore throat and hepatitis. Most mangroves around the world are lost by urban expansion and hurricanes.
Beverly Reddock, President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Beekeeping Association declared the Apiary opened by cutting of the ribbon. She told Radio Grenadines that the association worked with the Water Taxi Association and Susgren to establish the first Apiary on Union Island with the purpose of “Queen Rearing”, they choose Union Island because the island is free from pests and diseases.
In an interview with Radio Grenadines, Patricia Shako, Director for the Eastern Caribbean at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), she stated that TNC partnered with The Sustainable Greadines Inc. to execute a USAID funded project the “Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program (CMBP)”. The main objective of the program is to reduce pressures on fisheries and to provide sustainable livelihoods for fisherfolk. This Apiculture project is one of the activities under the Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program.
President of the Union Island Fisherfolk Cooperative, Peter Regis, encouraged cooperative members to work together because greater things are yet to come. He also encouraged persons to plant more trees and vegetation so that the hive quota for Union Island can be increased.
In 2016 the Bee Keepers Association embarked on a project geared towards the growth and sustainability of the Beekeeping Industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Ministry of Agriculture is providing Technical Support to the project which is still being carried out at two sites on Union Island. The project entitled “Innovative and Sustainable Agriculture in Union Island” was funded by Australian Direct Aid Program. The Apiary commissioned on May 25th 2018 brings the amount to three Apiaries on Union Island.