Ministry launches “Guide to Beekeeping in the Cook Islands”

Secretary of Agriculture, Temarama Anguna-Kamana and Beekeeping Advisor (VSA) Volunteering Abroad, David Cramp. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22081001

The Cook Islands has “incredibly spirited bees”, according to Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) beekeeping advisor David Cramp.

Cramp has been stationed in Rarotonga for three months, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and community beekeepers.

Not only has he been busy visiting and checking beehives around the island and on Mauke Island, Cramp has written a manual – the first “Guide to Beekeeping in the Cook Islands” which will benefit 20 local beekeepers existing and future.

Cramp said most beekeeping books were too generic, something a little more specific to the Cook Islands was better.

“I kept the manual pretty simple and basic, it’s designed for community beekeepers and for beekeepers who want to start, newcomers can pick it up and get started,” he said.

A special farewell function and book launch took place yesterday morning at the Department of Agriculture office in Arorangi.

Speaking of the types of bees in the Cook Islands, Cramp explained: “The dark colored bees are probably the old British black bees or the northern European bees and some bees found on Mauke Island are more yellow, which means they are probably Italian bees. brought over from New Zealand – so they are definitely calmer and more pleasant to deal with. “

“Bees are just the real wild livestock of mankind.

“You can never have a bee as a pet…no matter how nice you are or if you feed them. They don’t care if you feed them daily, weekly or never.

“To a bee the beekeeper is more of an insignificance or someone to attack…that’s how bees are and because for the mere fact that they are truly wild they disregard restrictions imposed on them by beekeepers or farmers.”

Bees adapt on their own to local conditions, they adapt to local flora, local seasonal flow, local climate and topography, Cramp said.

“The beauty of it is that you can’t do anything about it except manage those adaptations, and so Cook Islands bees have adapted within a few hundred years to the seasonal flows of the Cook Islands,” he said.

“It’s always a two-way street and I learned a lot here. I am happy to have been able to transmit knowledge.

Agriculture Secretary Temarama Anguna-Kamana said Cramp had also drafted welfare standards for livestock that will be included in agricultural regulations.

“The partnership with VSA is a huge advantage for the Ministry of Agriculture since we don’t have the capacity in the ministry to write this documentation in the country,” Anguna-Kamana said.

“Cramp’s expertise has really raised the profile of beekeeping in the Cook Islands and provided some support for beekeepers – and now we have a guide they can use and he has trained our staff to also provide a support.”

Tina Mackie, VSA program manager for the Cook Islands, Tonga and Niue, worked with Cramp in Tonga before Covid-19 disrupted plans.

“It’s never about people coming and going, it’s more about working together, and that’s exactly what’s happened here over the past three months,” Mackie said.

“The success of a mission depends on both what the volunteer brings and what the partner organization brings,” she said, thanking Agriculture for their hospitality and enthusiasm.

‘A Guide to Beekeeping in the Cook Islands’ can be purchased from the Department of Agriculture in Arorangi for $25 each.