On entering the communities of Jobs Lane and Walks Road in St Catherine, amid the hustle and bustle of the traffic, one will hear the distinctive sound of the buzzing of bees. Here are located two small apiaries where a group of recently trained beekeepers are conducting their routine hive assessment.
While Jamaica continues to battle with a high rate of unemployment among its youth between the ages of 15 and 24, there are some who have decided to pursue a more unconventional approach and utilise their entrepreneurial skills.
The trained beekeepers are the beneficiaries of a micro-enterprise-based project established after the Local Initiative Facility for the Environment signed a cooperative agreement with USAID-Jamaica in March last year. One of the components of the project is beekeeping which includes honey, pollen, and wax production.
"If I can assist one youth, then it would be worth it," said trainer Donovan Drummond, who has a vested interest in beekeeping and is also the owner of Honeycomb Industries in St Catherine.
Drummond said he was happy to assist these persons who were previously unemployed and now have the opportunity to further develop their skills, produce, bottle, and distribute honey, and eventually start their own beekeeping industry.
"I actually feel like a bee and want to work even harder at what I do!" exclaimed one of the beekeepers.
In addition to training, apiary site assessments were done for each trainee receiving bees. They have been assisted in establishing apiaries and honing their beekeeping skills.
Each beekeeper has also received beekeeping equipment, between two to five boxes of bees, hive bodies, frames, wax foundation, cover and bottom boards to expand the number of boxes of bees, technical assistance in hive management, training in record keeping, and basic financial management.
To date, the project has trained approximately 93 persons across St Catherine, St Thomas, and St Andrew, and all beekeepers have expanded their apiaries and established a minimum of three single supercolonies.