'Beekeeping can be sweet business for unemployed youth'
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Since 2013, beekeeper Patrick Haywood has noticed a significant upsurge in the number of consumers who understand and appreciate the healing properties of honey.
Haywood, who is from Port Maria, St Mary, insists that global demand for the super food will continue to increase in the future, and considers bee farming a viable solution for young people in the parish who are interested in agriculture and wealth creation.
Speaking recently at the annual St Mary Agri-Expo exhibition, he told Rural Xpress: "We have an unemployment and underemployment problem, but agriculture has the potential to provide employment. And it's not like the dirty work of long ago, because the training is really scientific nowadays; it's not guesswork anymore. Once you get a good education, it's something you can turn into a profession and earn a reasonable income from."
A report released last month by British market research company Technavio supports many of Haywood's assertions. According to the report, titled 'Global Honey Food Market 2017-2021,' the honey market is set to grow at a rate of around 5.5 per cent. The document also found that although the Americas will continue to be the largest market for health and wellness products, Asian, Pacific and Middle Eastern countries are expected to record significant rates of growth over the next five years.
Haywood, who is president of the St Mary Bee Farmers' Association, said: "I think a lot more people are beginning to understand the benefits of honey. It is 10 times sweeter than sugar, and because it is natural and does not contain any chemicals, it is safer to use. It's also a good skin cleanser.
"The market is growing, but we still need to spread the message, because what a lot of people have been doing is reaping honey from bees in the wild and then leaving the bees, without knowing if they have died or anything has happened to them. They don't care about the bees, only the honey. They don't realise that there are so many other products that can be made, too: royal jelly, pollen, and propolis, and these are all very important products."
Haywood believes that beekeeping has the potential to be a very lucrative business and unashamedly acknowledges this was the aspect that first caught his attention. He explained: "I was at my house one day and a swarm came on to my fence. I got somebody to come and capture them, and that's how I got into bee farming, that was about four years ago.
"The money part of it is what really kept my interest because I was near retirement and looking for something to keep me occupied. Heart Trust-NTA provides Level 2 training and the more education one gets, the better it is, so theoretically, by no, I know a lot about bees."