On October 17, over twenty members of the Horticultural Society of The Bahamas- Abaco Branch- met at the apiary (beehive) of Michael Lightbourn Sr. to learn about bees and beekeeping.
The bee aficionados were welcomed by the Society’s President, Laine Snow. As usual, “Gardener Jack” Hardy conducted his plant auction, finding happy owners for bromeliads, citrus trees, and hibiscus.
A tour of the apiary followed after guests were given head nets. Stings on the body can be dealt with, but they are not very pleasant on the face, said the beekeeper.
Fifteen hives of different sizes, most of them built by Lightbourn, were set in a nearly perfect semi-circle. Each of them displayed a healthy activity of bees going in and out. Each hive has a particular story attached to it, which was interestingly narrated by the presenter.
Lightbourn explained how to maintain healthy bee hives. He explained that they should be checked regularly for ants or other pest invasion, as well as making sure that the queen was producing eggs and larvae were hatching. He stressed the fact that he was trying to keep the surroundings as free of pesticides as possible. Lightbourn plans to add to the already existing flowers so the bees will not have to go far for pollen and nectar, thus avoiding chemical contamination from other farming sites.
Lightbourn went on to mention that there were no bee diseases in The Bahamas and deplored the fact that some people have imported bees from the United States.
The best was still to come, as the beekeeper proceeded to show onlookers how to check a hive, in this case, a commercial Longworth Hive. This type of hive is built with specific dimensions so supers and frames can be added on and easily removed for honey extraction. Lightbourn demonstrated how to use a smoker, pull out frames to monitor bee activity, and more.
Many times during the meeting, Lightbourn affirmed that bees could take care of themselves and that the least interference was the best.
Aside from the duties of taking care of his bees, extracting honey, and making wax, Lightbourn also extracts bees that have built hives in people’s houses or properties. He charges for the service but on occasion, he has waved the fees for the sake of getting the bees, as that is how he populated most of his hives.