Ongoing initiatives to boost local honey production by promoting the development of more urban hives continue to manifest themselves in an increasing number of honey shows across in Georgetown and its environs
President of the Guyana Apiculture Society (GAS) Linden Stewart told Stabroek Business on Monday that GAS Honey Day, which is being staged from 10:00 hrs today outside the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) is designed to create a greater awareness of the role bees play in economies beyond their widely-known production of honey.
“While most people are aware of the relationship between bees and honey production, far fewer people are aware of the other important products for which bees are both directly and indirectly responsible,” he said. “Bees are actually responsible for a range of byproducts, including value-added items like candles, honey sticks, soaps and beeswax. One of the ideas behind the show is to have some of these products on demonstration so that we can give people an idea of the range of business possibilities which honey offers.”
But according to Stewart while investment in apiculture is now open to both small and large operators the biggest challenge to greater investment in the sector is fear. “Unfortunately, there is definitely that barrier of fear that separates our human population from bees. The fact that bees have caused human and animal deaths is an issue,” he said. He noted that there are taught methods of dealing with bees safely. Stewart said what the society wanted to do was to train potential investors to manage bees in order that more people can take advantage of the industry.
Over time, the apiculture industry has failed to make a meaningful impact on the global honey market. China, the United States, Turkey and Ukraine are among the world’s leading producers of honey, though Stewart told Stabroek News that some of the major global producers still import honey to meet local demand. “There is no question that we have a market right here in Guyana. The problem is that the industry is not as well-organised as it should be,” he said, adding “though I think that what we need is the challenge of a market opportunity.”
In previous interviews with this newspaper Stewart had said that the society would welcome the opportunity to produce at least some of the honey used in the production of local beverages. “I believe that that sort of challenge is just what the industry needs to improve its performance,” he stressed.
Stewart said that while the industry was receiving some measure of official support, building a sustainable apiculture industry required greater levels of both public and private sector investment. He said that as is the case with today’s event GAS is always encouraged whenever it gets support from state agencies.
Stewart said that while the products that will be available at today’s Honey Day are all from coastal hives, the interior beekeeping industry is also taking shape. “While we would have loved to have the hinterland beekeepers and their products present at this event the costs associated with having them travel to the city were prohibitive as far as representation is concerned,” he said.