Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bees in the Dominican Republic

On a recent National Guard mission, the 624th Engineers went to the Dominican Republic. I got a first hand view of how the local bees are being housed. Unfortunately, each week when the beekeeper came to check his hives I was away on other duties, so I was unable to talk with him. I did learn a lot just from being able to walk around his apiary and take photos.

These photos clearly show the need for top bar hives in developing countries, regardless of the silly opinions I read from some of the rich in the world. The beekeeper was selling honey in used soda bottles, so it is a good bet that buying an extractor was not, and is not, an economic option.

Some hives had scrap metal
covers, some had wire mesh
on the backs. I could never
figure why they were configured
The bees are German, which 
surprises me. I would have thought 
a bee better suited to the tropics 
would have been imported and 
spread by now.

It appears that the beekeeper harvested only the comb he could reach from the open ends of the logs. Since he did not destroy any hives when he came for honey, he would have had very little he could harvest from each hive. A top bar hive or two would have greatly increased the harvest and made it much easier to get at.

My command did not see the importance and ease of helping this beekeeper improve his hives and denied my request to build them. I blame myself for not bringing it up earlier and more often. Unfortunately the beekeeper and his family are the ones that are paying the price.

Next time I will be louder and more assertive. I think I owe that to the beekeeper.

Comb can be chaotic. This certainly does not fit
the nice ordered calm we have come to expect in
the developed world.


  1. As a beekeeper in a developing country similar to the Dominican Republic and one who has met with other beekeepers of the Caribbean. I suggest this beekeeper is an exception.

    I will agree top bar isn't popular within the region, most beekeeper use Langstroth made from various material e.g ply. However I think the method of housing used by this beekeeper is being influenced by their financial means. I know that Punta Cuna Ecological Foundation is contributing to development in the Dom Rep industry. Consequently I think this is an individual issue than a local issue, however it might warrant further investigation.

  2. This was sent to me through Face Book:

    June 12, 2011Sam Day
    Bees in the DR
    I read your post on beekeeping in the DR and tried to post my own comment, but had difficulties due to choosing a profile.
    I have stayed in the DR, at a place called Eden Ranch on the North coast. They are a horse ranch/ organic gardening hobby nursery.
    As I was taking a tour of the property, the owner showed me how his Dominican neighbor housed bees and it was in a PVC tube. Another place they took me to, off the property had just a rickity, old wooden box ready to fall apart.
    This is a common way to things there, as 80% of the country population (near Eden Ranch) is poor and lacks education and resources. Where as Punta Cana is flowing with wealth, tourists and mega rich gated homeowners.
    I have shared this info with the owners, as they are looking for someone to help them set up a bee-hive/housing unit and of course they are having a hard time finding someone with a queen.
    Do you have any recommendations?
    These people are very nice and are doing a good thing up there in the country, in fact I am becoming good friends with them and am always trying to help them.
    Any info would be appreciated.