Omar lives a few houses down from me and is known in my community as "Bee-Mon." Anytime there is a swarm somewhere in the community, it's Omar that they call, and it isn't an uncommon sight to see him come scratched, stung, and swollen out of the bush on a failed attempt to try to capture a swarm from a challenging place. Omar only started beekeeping four months ago and like most beekeepers, has fallen in love with the little critters. When Emily, my friend and fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, invited me to a bee training being held for members of the Beekeepers Association that she works with, I knew I had to invite Omar to come along for the trip. So, today we hopped in a taxi and went 20 minutes south to arrive at the farm, ready to work with some bees!
Obviously, I didn't get any photographs while working in the hives, because our hands were kind of full--but I loved being back in the hives. Even though I have experience working with bees in the U.S., I haven't done any beekeeping here in Jamaica yet, but that will now change!
An afternoon of working with Emily's bees reawakened my passion of working with honeybees, and I am planning to get a hive of my own! Omar is going to let me keep it in his apiary, and I am hoping we can make it a learning space where other farmers/community members who are interested in beekeeping can learn how to get started.
There are some things I'll have to get used to with beekeeping in Jamaica---like opening the hives to a scorpion hanging out, roaches being a more common pest, or different terminology for the same thing (Omar identified some of the pests that he sees as "honey butcha" and "vampire" so it took some back and forth to realize that we were talking about wax moths and varroa mites).
Up to this point, Omar has been self-taught in keeping bees, and his apiary is all made out of recycled materials. He assured me that the tires are where he temporarily puts a newly caught swarm until a box is prepared.
You may have noticed this blog is called "Adventures of a Honeybee," which is because my name "Melissa" means "honey bee" (Greek). Now I think it is time for Adventures WITH honeybees...here in Jamaica!