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Bee Hive Inspection Progressing Islandwide

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Efforts to detect and eradicate the American Foulbrood (AFB) disease in Jamaican bees are progressing smoothly with approximately 22.0% of the estimated 42,000 hives being inspected since March 2011. Under the leadership and technical guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) Apiculture Extension Specialists, teams are examining kept hives for the clinical symptoms of the AFB disease. Those hives exhibiting the AFB symptoms are burnt and the associated apiaries placed under prescribed quarantine.

Concurrently, the Inter-American Institute For Co-operation On Agriculture (IICA) is undertaking sensitisation sessions to increase the awareness of bee farmers and the general public about the AFB and transmission prevention measures. “We want every bee farmer to know about and recognise the symptoms of the AFB in its early stages and to be able to take precautionary and corrective actions. Additionally, we want to use these sessions to remind persons of the legal requirements for the burning of infected hives and to get their support and feedback. Also, 120 bee farmers are being trained in apiary management and hive manipulation as well as the management of bee pests and the development and management of the bee business,” according to Ms. Cordia Thompson, Project Co-ordinator for the AFB Project.

Meanwhile, the Apiculture Unit has called on farmers to be co-operative when scheduled for inspection as the process can only be of benefit to them. “There are standard operating procedures and precautionary measures that will prevent inspection teams from transferring the disease from one apiary to another,” cited Mr Reginald Peddy, Chief Plant Protection Officer and Head of the Apiculture Unit within the MoAF. Additionally, Mr Peddy wants Jamaicans to realise that the AFB is a highly contagious and lethal disease to honey bees and needs co-operation to ensure success and sustainability of current actions and to minimise incidences of the disease.

“Current and prospective bee farmers are being reminded that the law requires the annual registration of all apiaries. In addition, used hive equipment from apiaries under quarantine and bees in general, are not to be transported out of their prescribed areas without a written permit from the Apiculture Unit. Most importantly, farmers are encouraged to end the common practice of sharing bee keeping equipment, from apiaries of unknown health status” Mr Peddy said.

Inspections continue until November 2011 and are a part of a larger project being implemented under three distinct components to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders in the apiculture sector to manage the AFB and enhance production. Funding is provided by the European Union for EUR€234,500.00 (J$26.0M) through the EU Banana Support Programme under its window for the creation of sustainable employment opportunities. The project is being implemented jointly with the All-Island Bee Farmers’ Association (AIBFA) and the Jamaica Federation Of Commercial Apiculturists (JFCA) who have each inputed J$3.0M in-kind contribution.

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