Experience and Learning

Flor Villalobos, leader of Pirque’s group beekeepers group, said this training gave her another perspective to look at her hives. “You used to be guided by what the older beekeepers told you, but the bees have changed and so have the diseases. Sometimes you did things wrong and you didn’t know it. Instead, now I know how to check my hives, identify signs of diseases or problems and solve them,” she said

Benjamín García, a beekeeper from Lampa, explained that they can now develop cleaner and more organic production, reducing to a minimum the use of chemical products thanks to better health of the beehives. “When you renovate the breeding chamber and disinfect the box, the bees can work much faster. Beekeeping is like livestock, if you don’t give it the right conditions, the animal doesn’t work,” he said, adding that before they took 300 kilos of honey from 150 beehives, and by improving practices, last year they took 2 tons of honey from 90 beehives.

Mayda Verde concluded that it is important for beekeepers to be able to incorporate health and pest and disease prevention aspects. In order to do so, they must deepen their knowledge of good production and manufacturing practices and the sanitary gaps at each point of the production process.

She also recommended the promotion of partnerships to face health problems and achieve a joint growth of bee and agricultural production. “In this way, it will be possible to achieve the quality, safety and traceability demanded by today’s food market,” she said..

Assessed aspects

Firstly, the presence or absence of residues and new or used materials in the apiary was verified, such as wax, worked combs, pupae or dead bees in front of the hives opening, residues of varroicidal treatments or others. In addition, it was evaluated that the beehives were separated at least 1 meter from each other, placed on individual supports and in a ground without weeds.

This was followed by an assessment of the state of beekeeping equipment, the hive’s population , food reserves and access to water for bees. Clinical signs of infectious-contagious diseases were also observed in offspring and adults, samples were taken to measure the rates of infestation by destructive Varroa and whether residues of previous treatments for the control of this mite were maintained in the hives or in the apiary.

Finally, the storage area for bee inputs was reviewed in terms of cleaning, separation of material and risk of contamination, concluding with the evaluation of the beekeeper’s management of the apiary in terms of records, management and health information.