Thu | Nov 23, 2017

In love with bees

Published:Saturday | January 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Johnson with a frame with a swarm of bees.- Photo by Shanique Samuels
Luke demonstrating the honey-extraction process. - Photo by Shanique Samuels
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Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer

A birthday gift of a hive of bees more than 25 years ago has now turned into a hobby for young Kenville Johnson. He received the box of bees from his dad, Kenville Johnson Sr, for his first birthday, and he has kept them ever since.

He absolutely loved the rather unusual gift, but it was Johnson Senior who was, and still is, responsible for keeping and caring for the hives and maintaining the apiary, though his son is always around to aid in the process.

This young apiculturist now has almost 70 boxes of bees from the single box he received over two decades ago.

"They multiply real fast. Millions upon millions of bees are reproduced per year because one queen lays several thousands of eggs each time she lays." He said most times when the boxes get overcrowded, some of the bees move to a nearby tree where they would begin to hive. From there, they are carefully removed and dusted into an empty box and given frames - the frames they will use to produce the honey. He added that their surroundings are immaculately kept and that they receive the best care possible to ensure the highest-quality honey is produced.

The boxes are kept up to three feet above the ground to prevent frogs and other predators from feeding on the bees. Johnson said they are fed their own honey along with the pollen they pick up from trees. He said the bees are also affected by diseases such as 'mite', which, if left untreated, could be harmful to the entire apiary.

Honey is extracted from the hives twice per year as the bees take up to six months to produce enough honey to fill each of the 10 frames in all the boxes. This process, he said, lasts up to one day, but the length of time will vary depending on the size of an apiary.

Each frame is carefully removed from the box and placed in the extractor two at a time, where it is spun repeatedly until all the honey is drained. It is then collected from the container and bottled for sale.

NOTHING IS WASTED

He added that nothing is wasted as the empty honeycombs are taken to Bodles Estate, where they are used to make beeswax for commercial purposes.

"The honey produced here is all natural. It is 100 per cent natural," he said. Johnson was also keen to point out that the honey is taken to the Scientific Research Council to be tested regularly. This is in an effort to ensure that the honey produced is free of diseases and is fit for consumption.

"I don't make a huge profit from beekeeping. It's more like a break even. I just make enough to remain viable, but I do it all the same because I love it. I love the bees and the whole interesting idea of producing the honey for all the benefits and medicinal purposes it has," Johnson said.

He said he hopes the Government, along with all other stakeholders, would do more to help beekeepers and small bee farmers to maximise their potential production and possibly help them to export.

rural@gleanerjm.com