And now, one of my favourite parts of our trip to Tobago...
...a visit to a beekeeper! Those who are allergic (Mitchell!) and phobic may want to stop after the following goat photos.
Gladstone Solomon is president of the Tobago Apicultural Society, and kindly introduced to a very generous and kind beekeeper named Murchison, who offered to show us his beehives and talk bees.
We also met Murchison's goats...
Including the billy goat, who gave me the eye! As you know, farm animals are often smitten with me, frequently in a carnal way...
Murchison makes his own wax foundation sheets by collecting his own beeswax, melting it and pouring it into rectangular forms, then running the solid beeswax slabs through this:
He uses canvas as fuel for his smoker. Beekeepers use all sorts of things to get their smokers going. I favour wood shavings because I always have bags of them around for duck and chicken bedding.
Murchison was so kind to spend several hours with us.
He lent veils to me and Gordon.
He asked me how I feed my bees. He was trying out a plastic bottle as a syrup feeder, but the bees empty it very quickly. This is a "nuc", or small nucleus hive.
Murchison has been a beekeeper for 20-odd years.
And guess who?
I love being outside with the bees. Now that I've inspected hives in short sleeves, capri pants and sandals, I may never go back to my bee jacket in summer.
Ants are a problem in Tobago and can steal a hive full of honey. Ant moats are the answer!
Just beginning to sweat. We went to a bookstore after this, and while walking around, I kept smelling someone really stinky. After wrinkling my nose for ten minutes, I realized that the odiferous one was ME.
It was so cool seeing how beekeeping is done in Tobago. Very similar to what we do here, but no wrapping of the hives for winter.
Murchison has just started mentoring a young man named Darren. Darren is a natural beekeeper. Very calm around the bees, very interested, and a sponge for information.
I think Murchison had 20 - 25 hives. He'd like to have 100. There aren't enough beekeepers in Tobago, and good honey is hard to find.
I enjoyed watching Murchison with Darren. He's a patient and gentle teacher.
Darren was doing quite well on his own!
Lots of nectar in this frame.
And can you see what's underneath the screened bottom board in this hive?
A huge toad, bigger than my fist! I'm guessing it's a cane toad.
And here's a fat healthy queen:
She's the golden one in the centre, surrounded by a circle of bees. Her body is a little bent so you can't quite see her head.
A rather nice photo with a rather unfortunate placement of my bee helmet. Ahem! But I had a great morning learning all about beekeeping in Tobago. Murchison has a beautiful beeyard.
I won't have my hands in a hive again until spring, sigh...
PS: Bees for Development offers beekeeping safaris in various places, including Tobago, and is an excellent organization!