Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 9th 2014 Contents A37
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Expect to see a lot more of
Jamie Lynn Spears this sum-
mer, but not in her former role
as an actress. She s putting out
new music, getting radio play
and introducing herself to
country music fans all over the
Spears understands why some
people might be a little puz-
zled---the little sister of one of
the world s biggest pop star s
singing country? But Spears says
once people get a chance to lis-
ten to her, they understand it.
The former teen star of Zoey
101 has been working behind
the scenes in Nashville learning
the craft of songwriting. She s
already got a music video and
put out an EP called The Journey
on iTunes with five new songs.
She s increasingly doing more
live performances, including this
week s festival and the Taste of
Country festival later in June in
New York State. Festivals like
the CMA Fest are critical starting
points for new artists trying to
break out on the smaller stages
and grab the attention of both
music industry folks and fans
Another Spears singer: Jamie Lynn goes country
...not so sweet
former president of the T&T
Beekeepers Association, was
named after the Venerable
Bede because he was born
on the Saint day of the seventh century
He celebrated his birthday last week and
entered his 35th year as a beekeeper.
That his name sounds similar to "bees"
is probably just coincidence. So too is the
fact that his father also kept bees---Rahjaram
did not discover this until he was well into
his own beekeeping career.
Back in the seventh century, the Venerable
Bede may have been lucky enough to have
In the Middle Ages, in fact as far back as
15,000 years ago, humans were collecting
honey from wild beehives. The Egyptians
were the first society to attempt to domes-
ticate bees. Merchants would transport hives
and giant jars of honey up and down the
Nile on boats to sell to villagers.
Cleopatra was said to have bathed in milk
and honey. It is also claimed that she invented
the first vibrator by filling a gourd full of
angry bees which began to buzz and vibrate.
But it wasn t until the 18th Century when
Europeans invented movable hives that bee-
keeping became a commercial enterprise.
The ability to transport bee colonies made
the industry sustainable. Previously, collecting
honey meant destroying the whole colony.
With European colonisation, bees arrived
in the Caribbean and have been established
in T&T for over 100 years. Honey was export-
ed from these islands in quantities of tens
of thousands of pounds a year by the middle
of the 20th Century.
Then the Africanised bee arrived, a more
aggressive more productive sub-species which
arrived in Trinidad from South Africa via
Brazil in 1979. They overran the population
of European bees completely and threatened
a crisis. The government intervened, attempt-
ing to cull the bees, and the number of bee-
Initially it was feared they would kill the
honey industry entirely but numbers of api-
aries are back up to pre-1979 levels.
There are currently around 300 beekeepers
and 7,000 colonies in Trinidad and 16 bee-
keepers and 450 colonies in Tobago, according
to Gladstone Solomon, president of the Toba-
go Apicultural Society.
Bees dying out abroad
Worldwide, the picture for bees is not so
rosy. In the US, numbers have plummeted.
In Europe, the EU has banned the use of
toxic pesticides that are thought to be killing
"They don t know the exact reasons," Rah-
jaram says, "but they suspect the main cause
of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), is due
to the GM foods."
British journalist Alison Benjamin is an
author of three books about urban beekeeping
intended to encourage people in inner cities
to keep hives in their garden, to replenish
the falling populations and promote bees as
essential for ecosystems to thrive.
In an article last March, Benjamin wrote,
"When I wrote A World Without Bees to
investigate why honeybees were mysteriously
disappearing across the US and parts of
Europe, one of the conclusions I came to---
having talked to beekeepers, scientists, farmers
and pesticide manufacturers, and waded
through piles of academic papers---was that
we must suspend the use of some neoni-
cotinoid pesticides until we had a better idea
of what harm they may be causing our bees."
In April 2013, the EU did vote to suspend
neonicotinoids after a report by the European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found they
posed a "high acute risk" to honey bees.
In September, chemical manufacturer Syn-
genta challenged the two-year EU ban on
the pesticides thiamethoxam, clothianidin
and imidacloprid, saying the testing procedure
The US, notorious for heavily spraying its
crops, refuses to stop. Food giant Monsanto
(described on its own Web site as a "sus-
tainable agricultural company" but on
Wikipedia as a "multinational chemical and
agricultural biotechnology corporation and
leading producer of genetically engineered
seed") is the world s leading GM food pro-
ducer and advocate.
Many environmentalists and nutritionists
believe the pressure asserted by multinational
companies like Monsanto influences the US
policy on food production methods.
The US attitude is perplexing since the
majority of US bees are kept for pollination
purposes, not to produce honey. Pollination
is an essential agricultural process for dis-
seminating seeds that grow into crops.
Benjamin says, "Of the 100 crop species
responsible for providing 90 per cent of food
worldwide, 71 are dependent on bee polli-
nation, according to UN estimates."
The knock-on effect of bees dying is enor-
mous for world ecologies and economies.
Benjamin says the estimated cost of the loss
of 10 million beehives worldwide in the past
six years is between US$37 and US$91 billion,
Sweet taste of honey
Honey in T&T is expensive---a 300-ml jar
costs around $85, a one-litre jar $200. The
high price is mostly due to the top quality
of the honey.
Continues on Page A38
Beekeepers inspect honey in a hive at Bede Rahjaram's hillside apiary in Diego Martin. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BADAHUR
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