Agriculture Ministry Carrying Out Bee Disease Survey

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Early next month, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management will carry out a survey on possible diseases in the local bee population.

And to this end, Consultant Apiarist from Florida, Tomas Mozer, will visit the island from December 3 to 7, to assist the Ministry with this process.

Head of the Entomology Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Ian Gibbs, revealed that Mr. Mozer and officials of the Ministry would meet with local beekeepers during the first week in December at Graeme Hall, Christ Church, to explain the rationale behind the survey and gather information for the study.

"We know the insect and mite pests of bees in Barbados but we do not know very much about what possible diseases there are. So, that is the reason behind the survey and we want to find out, with Mr. Mozer’s expert assistance, if there are any major bee diseases in Barbados. When we get that information we would be able to then proceed and see how we could help in getting around these problems," he explained.

While noting that there were no major issues impacting the local bee population presently, Mr. Gibbs said the Ministry still had to be vigilant as one of the insect’s major pests, the Varroa Mite, was still on the island.

The mite, which was discovered here around 2002, is a parasite which feeds on the pupae and larvae of bees and may ultimately kill them.

"It has had a devastating effect on bees throughout the world and even here in Barbados, it is estimated that we lost about 50 to 75 per cent of the bee population between 2000 and 2004. The population has bounced back and now we are seeing again reasonably good numbers around the island and that includes wild hives as well," he pointed out.

Mr. Gibbs added that study into diseases affecting bees was not an area of expertise for local agricultural officials, but Mr. Mozer’s visit would go some way in helping to shape and carry out the survey.

Further information on the survey may be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Agriculture’s Entomology Unit, Graeme Hall, Christ Church at 434- 5000 ext. 5103.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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