Many beekeepers in Jamaica, including our family, are open to exploring natural and sustainable methods of beekeeping, including the use of top bar hives.
Our move from conventional beekeeping to a more natural way to work with bees has been a wonderful journey. With top bar beekeeping, we do not need frames or foundation for the bees to build comb on – we just offer them a top bar with a strip of beeswax as a starting point, and they build comb with the size cell that suits them best. Natural cell size and comb that is harvested with the honey result in healthier bees. If beekeepers also breed queens for pest resistance, it is very possible for us to keep bees without treating our bees with miticides, antibiotics and pesticides.
Top bar hives are affordable to build and don’t need expensive equipment to manage. Storage needs are minimal and there is no heavy lifting involved. Little wonder so many beekeepers here are excited about learning more about keeping their own top bar hives!
When you come as an intern for your residential stay of at least a month (and up to four months maximum), our goal is to prepare you to start your own apiary at home once you leave. Guided hands-on experience makes for learning, so you will do everything related to the management of our apiaries with a total of almost 200 top bar hives.
If we are in a honey flow during your internship period, you will raise queens. You will help us manage the hives in our apiaries, and work with us to keep excellent records. You will learn how to test mite infestation rates of colonies and how to breed queens for resistance to varroa mite. We want you to know how to keep your bees healthy naturally.
If you are here for more than one month, we will cover how to make value added products with honey, pollen, propolis and beeswax. You will also learn how to build your own top bar hives from different materials and in different sizes.
By the end of your internship, you should understand what is involved in treatment free, natural beekeeping. You will be comfortable building and managing colonies in top bar hives.
We provide all interns with protective gear and lots of support. Total novices are welcome and encouraged. We have a library of beekeeping books at the disposal of the interns. We suggest that anyone interested in this internship read Parker Farm’s definition of what it means to be treatment free. You can also have hours of fun reading the bee-related postings on this interesting forum.
Resilience is a helpful quality to have in Jamaica, as things do not always work out as you plan, and you need to be able to bounce back, adjust and try again without losing your enthusiasm. Self-motivation is essential, as our normal life on our farm will demand our energy, and you need to be able to work independently once given direction.
Interns will do bee work almost every day. It is important to us that we live up to our responsibility to our interns, so we put a lot of energy into giving you as much bee experience as possible. At the same time, we want you to enjoy exposure to life here in our coastal village in seaside Jamaica. We will do our best to introduce the interns to the town and our neighbors in an informal way so that you can get a good immersion in Jamaican life.
You will also participate in life on our farm. Past interns have gone to the bat cave to collect guano for fertilizer, built a charcoal and sand water filter, gone to the nearby bamboo forest to collect bamboo for a natural building project, built a clay oven, cut guinea grass with machete to cover the ground in the watermelon field, and gone to our hillside farms to gather mango, jackfruit, jelly coconut and other fruits. Our Internships page has a slideshow that shows more of life here as an intern.
We require interns to keep a blog and to make regular postings. Reading the blogs kept by some of our past interns will give you a sense of the day to day life here.
Interns support themselves while here by contributing $2,000 per month for room and board. This covers all food (3 daily vegan meals, snacks, fruit) and shared accommodations in our cabins. You choose how long you stay and when you come. We are always working with bees, and we are happy to be flexible about when we host interns.
We are happy to work with any student interested in obtaining academic credit for their experience with us, and with students who need to access funding through their school in order to participate.
To apply for this internship, please find the application here.
Please contact Agape Adams by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (876-343-1121) for more information.