Bee farmers see sweet reward with new products
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
ANNOTTO BAY, St Mary:
BEE FARMERS in St Mary are moving beyond the traditional products associated with apiculture such as honey, wax, and pollen and moving well up the value-added chain with a range of items including a tonic, aphrodisiac, medicine, and sandwich spread.
A proud Hidalgo Oliver was eager to talk about the items being produced and marketed by the St Mary Bee Farmers' Association when The Gleaner caught up with him at the St Mary Agri Expo on Easter Monday. Admitting that the heavy rains had "mashed" them up in terms of the poor sales, he was, however, upbeat about the potential for products from the honeybee.
"From the bees you can get a lot of things. It is something complete," he shared, going on to explain the merits of their product line.
"This one is for sinus, cold, or flu and is made from honey, garlic, and eucalyptus. So if you have sore throat or coughing and take one teaspoon, that helps to calm you down and really gets the cold out of your system."
The next product is a spread made from honey mixed with two fruits. The tinking toe and locust also come in different flavours such as cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
While he spoke highly of the next two products, Oliver was quick to point out that this was due to research and not personal use of the tonic known as "Cannon," or the other drink, which he explained was a very effective aphrodisiac derived from bee pollen, which has been described as nature's Viagra.
He explained: "Cannon helps in the male to strengthen their system and is good for the nerves. You take it three times a week and the other one you take for impotence or erectile dysfunction. That also helps them - gives that vigour that they need to really function."
The association has about 60 members who have a total in excess of 2,000 bee colonies. Most of the products are brewed at home and tasted and tested by family members and friends. However, the group is looking to get its product line evaluated and endorsed by the Scientific Research Council as well as the Bureau of Standards Jamaica.
In the meantime, it will be working with technicians at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in the neighbouring parish of Portland to develop nutritional panels for each product in preparation for this move.
Meanwhile, Oliver and the rest of the St Mary Beef Farmers' Association remain hooked on the nutritional and medicinal value of the honey and other products from the bee.
"So from the bees we have the pollen. Them call it the natural Viagra. It also helps in sinusitis and other allergies, as well as the aging process, and migraine headaches. It is a complete food. It has all the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs," Oliver insisted.