A one-time Foreign Service Officer, 61-year-old Janice Fraser appears more than comfortable in her current role as a beekeeper. She fervently believes that beekeeping is one of the untapped sectors of the Guyana economy and has taken it upon herself to teach young men and women to become part of an industry in which, one day, they will become their own bosses.
These days, she is also busy developing her own brand, “Forever loving you honey.” Her immediate objective is to have her brand available across the country. She has acquired a plot of land on the Essequibo Coast. Very soon, she will be establishing an apiary there. These days she tends hives at several locations on the East Coast Demerara. She believes that there is an adequate market even in circumstances of increased production. “Right now I sell my honey through word of mouth and sometimes I don’t have enough to supply my clients so I have to sell on a first come, first served basis,” Fraser says.
It is the high demand for honey, she says, that persuaded her to share her skills with young unemployed men and women interested in engaging in a potentially lucrative business option. Her ‘class’ has ten students at this time. They are aged between seventeen and thirty. “I am encouraging them to do something on their own because you cannot sit down and expect the government to find work for you. In the future, I hope to see these persons with their own thriving businesses,” Fraser said, adding that she is urging more persons to get into honey production because “there is a business opportunity out there.”
As far as her own business is concerned she says she can hardly supply her clients. “I do not do any form of advertisement. People start paying me before I start extracting honey so there is room for persons and you don’t have much work to do with the bees.” Fraser says that with good management and fair weather conditions, a beekeeper can earn close to $400,000 per month from forty bee hives.
Fraser went into the bee-keeping sector in 1993 when she participated in a training session held in Brazil, where she was residing at the time. “I started the honey business there and then I came home. There were some bees on a tree in a school compound and they called me to remove them and that’s when I started my own hives here,” she said.
The proceeds from honey have helped to keep her family and have made it possible for her to expand her business.
National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Oudho Homenauth credits the training provided by Fraser with offering a valuable business option to young people. He says that the aspiring beekeepers will also be making an important contribution to the agricultural sector since the pollination role played by bees increases production.