Integrated Pest Management (IPM) System

The Apiculture Industry, like other agricultural operations, is prone to pest and disease infestations; consequently, the Apiculture Unit has developed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) System to combat such problems. This IPM System employs natural, biological and chemical elements to control destructive agents that may negatively impact on honey production, quality and availability of the product for both the local and the export markets.

Investigations and Field Surveys

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Through the IPM System investigations are carried out to ascertain the best methkodologies to combat the disease and pest infestations of the American Foul Brood (AFB) disease, Small Hive Beetle (SHB) and Varroa Mite. These investigations are complemented by field surveys to identify new pests and the levels of infestations as they arise.

The Unit routinely conducts inspection of known diseased apiaries with assistance from beekeepers and contracted individuals. An average of 728 beehives in 36 apiaries are monitored on a bimonthly basis. Outbreaks are stringently screened with all apiaries within a five (5) mile radius of the known diseased beehives placed under surveillance, as well.

Port surveillance

Prevention of any foreign bee diseases and pests to Jamaica must factor in surveillance at the ports of entry. The Apiculture Unit consistently keeps in contact with and makes checks at the seaports and airports to identify any unusual bee activity. Simultaneously, major retail outlets are periodically checked for any imported bee products.

By March 2009, it is anticipated that swarm traps will be mounted at several ports of entry to augment the country’s IPM system.

Public awareness campaigns

An integral element of the IPM System is public awareness campaigns that alert farmers and the general public of emerging beekeeping diseases and /or pest. Farmer training sessions are held in each parish by apiculture extension officer to inform them of the physical and biological signs to observe for in the case of emerging infestations. Also, recommendations for control and eradication are shared through the various media available.

These contact sessions also works to the benefit of the Apiculture Unit in involving the public in the surveillance efforts, making them more likely to report incidences of highly unusual defensive behavior of unknown swarms and the illegal importation of bee products.

Innovations

Through the IPM system a mechanical trap has been designed, produced and tested to keep the SHB infestation levels below the economic threshold. Several modifications have been made to the original model to capture pests at both the larval and adult stages. Final analyses are pending to determine the effectiveness of the modules, and then the traps will be distributed to beekeepers throughout the island.