Women Bee Farmers Association of Jamaica
Since 2012, our project has provided 16 training series, with over 1,800 people attending sustainable beekeeping workshops in all of the island’s parishes. 17 USAID/Partners of the Americas Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers, experts in many different fields, have donated their time and energy to share skills and information with their Jamaican peers.
The result is a change in the beekeeping conversation on a grassroots level. Beekeepers around the island know about the importance of value added products and have seen hands-on demonstrations of how to make candles, mead and propolis salve. Beekeepers around the island know about top bar beekeeping and have been part of top bar hive inspections. Thanks to the generosity of Partners of the Americas and the Farmer-to-Farmer program, most parish associations have a top bar hive in their training apiary.
It’s one thing to be part of a workshop and to be intrigued by the possibility of being able to keep bees without the use of chemical treatments and of using affordable top bar hives. It’s another thing to go home, set up a top bar hive apiary and start being a natural beekeeper with a varied and unique product line that is well-marketed. Occasional workshops will not provide the support needed to make that happen.
With that in mind, we decided to form an association of beekeepers from around the island who could be early adopters and future trainers for sustainable beekeeping. That this would be a group of women irritated a lot of men, but we honestly could not care less. We welcome men who are part of the team supporting the women members.
The success of these women beekeepers will be an example for other beekeepers on their local areas. Top bar hive trainings can be hosted in their apiaries. Because there is no heavy lifting with this method, top bar hives are an ideal choice for women beekeepers. It is a simple, affordable method that is easy for new beekeepers to learn and practice. Hopefully, this group’s success will inspire other women to use beekeeping to add an income stream that can help to support their families.