Caribbean beekeepers gather on St. Croix


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ST. CROIX - The University of the Virgin Islands will be abuzz today as the Cooperate Extension Service hosts the seventh Caribbean Beekeeping Congress and the second annual Caribbean Bee College.

The event starts today and runs through Friday with a number of all-day activities, primarily on the university's campus.

Carlos Robles, Cooperate Extension district supervisor, said the event is sponsored through a partnership among the university, Agriculture Department and regional organizations in an effort to share research, current events and issues, information, tools and resources to improve the sustainability of beekeeping in the islands.

Robles said the five-day event will consist of a two-day congress, a one-day combination session of meetings, technical tours, and a cultural evening, followed by two days of the Bee College.

Bee Congress highlights include a keynote address from Nicola Bradbear, director of Bees for Development, on "Beekeeping, a Global Perspective: Developments and Trends."

There will also be reports on successes in the region and a call has been put out for papers where beekeepers and bee researchers from around the world will share their latest findings.

Robles said the event is important because it gives bee keepers in the territory a chance to interact with people who are involved with bees in other places.

It also gives locals an opportunity to showcase what they do, Robles said.

"There is a lot of great information that will be passed around and exchanged because beekeepers here and across the region and across the nation have varying techniques that they use to manage the hives," he said.

The Bee College is also a place for people to find information on starting a bee-related business.

"When we get into these types of settings there is so much information to share, and so much to learn," Robles said. "They could talk about bees and the industry for a very long time and there is always something new to learn."

Robles said the combination sessions will provide technical tours where participants will have the chance to visit the island of and its bee colonies.

College highlights include morning lectures and afternoon workshops on a variety of beginner and advanced honey bee and beekeeping topics.

Courses include everything from honey bee biology to hive product marketing, Caribbean honey plants, pests, and diseases.

Live honey bee colonies will be on-site to facilitate hands-on learning experience.

This is the first time the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers' Organizations has held their bi-annual gathering in the territory and Robles said the more than 100 individuals planning to attend will bring a needed boost to the economy.

One aspect of the event that Robles said is expected to draw a crowd will be the market where conference participants and community residents can come out and purchase books, candles, honey and other bee products.

"This is similar to the Buzzar that is held every year, but we also have some specialty vendors," he said.

Registration can be completed online at http://www.uvi.edu/community/cooperative-extension-service/agriculture-and-natural-resources/beekeeping.aspx or at the event today. There is a special $100 local all-inclusive registration or $50 day passes for the Congress or $125 for the two-day College.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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