My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Jamaican Honeybees and American FoulBrood Disease - How the Ministry of Agriculture ban on Imported Honey protects local Agriculture Industry

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Jamaican Honeybees and American FoulBrood Disease - How the Ministry of Agriculture ban on Imported Honey protects local Agriculture Industry

“Records of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries indicate that no import permits for bee products (Honey and pollen) have been granted by the chief plant protection officer [at the] Apiculture Unit for their entry, and as such these items are considered to be illegal”.

Statement from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' Apiculture Unit that makes importing Honey products illegal Jamaica is now on lockdown for imported Honey.

This based on a statement issued in November 2015 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' Apiculture Unit advising against the importation of Honey and Honeybee products from the US of A and elsewhere as noted in the article “Ministry: No imported Honey, Honeybee products allowed”, published Wednesday, November 25, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

This ban has all the similarities of the Ministry of Agriculture ban on the importation of chicken and chicken products due to the outbreak of the H5N2 disease or Avian Flu as reported in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture bans US, Canadian Chicken Products - Why H5N2 Avian Flu is Shadows of 2014 Chicken Shortage during Easter 2015”.


The fear is that imported Honey and other Honey be related products could introduce disease into Jamaica that could decimate out local Honey Industry. All importation of Honey and Honeybee products into the country was declared illegal.

So far, beekeepers have alerted the Apiculture Unit of health food stores in Kingston and St Andrew selling eight (8) brands of imported Honey and one (1) brand of bee pollen. These were ordered removed and confiscated as bees can find contaminated Honey and other Honey products when discarded and take them back to their hives introducing illness into the hive and causing the death of that hive.

But what exactly is the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' Apiculture Unit so afraid of that can decimate out local Bee population, destroy our Bee Industry and possibly affect the Agriculture Industry?

Jamaica and AFB – How the disease is spread and how it kills Honeybees

The answer is a disease called AFB (American foulbrood) (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) that is spread via spores.

This occurs in a manner similar to how Panama Disease (Fusarium Oxysporum) is spread among bananas as explained in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “How the Panama Disease can destroy Caribbean Banana Farming by 2020”. 

However AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) is actually a rod shaped bacterium that infects the bee larvae when they are three days old. It is introduced to the bee larvae when the other worker bees fed them via regurgitating the infected Honey or other products from an infected hive.

The AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) spores germinate in the gut of the bee larvae and feed on the food that was given to the bee, starving it of nourishment. This kills the bee larvae which darken and then die.

As the bee larvae dies it bursts forth with 100 million spores of the AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) bacterium, ready to spread to other bees coming to remove the dead larvae. Because it hitches a ride on the fur of the bees that handle the contaminated corpses of the larvae, it will spread to anything the bees come in contact with from Honey, beeswax and even flowers. 

Other bees that steal Honey, beeswax as well as come in contact with the flowers that these infected bees have will bring back the AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) to their hive, infecting their brood.

Spreading bee by bee, hive by hive in this manner, the AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) will decimate beehives, leaving them empty and lifeless. The beekeeper is the one that suffer, as they cannot sell their contaminated Honey, beeswax or other Honeybee products and will have to destroy by fire.




This as if they are not destroyed, the spores, which can be viable for up to fifty years, can spread to other hives as pointed out by the Ministry of Agriculture in a statement, quote: “Finally, the beekeeper will lose their main source of income. This will impact the Honey packers, suppliers of goods and services, and over 14,000 persons who directly depend on the Industry for their livelihood”.

Why Honeybees deaths affect Honey Production and survival of Agriculture Industry

The last time Jamaica has an outbreak of AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae) was in 1918 and since then, there have been sporadic outbreaks across several parishes. Honeybees are critical to the pollination of fruit bearing crops such as pumpkin, pear, ackee and guinep.

Thus if you spot anyone selling imported bee products such as Honey, pollen or beeswax, it’s best to report it to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' Apiculture Unit as per the Bee Control Act of 1918: “Under the Bee Control Act of 1918 no bees, Honey or beekeepers' stock shall be brought within the limits of this Island, save with the permission in writing of the chief plant protection officer first had and obtained, and any bees, Honey, or beekeepers' stock brought within the limits of this Island without such permission may be seized and destroyed at any time by any customs officer or by any officer or sub-officer of the Jamaica Constabulary”.

Jamaica may be on the cusp of a major outbreak of AFB. If we have another major outbreak of AFB (Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae), not only will it destroy the Honey Industry in Jamaica but also the entire Fruit Production Sector of our Agriculture Industry.

Here’s the link:



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