This week, we are on a family vacation to Cuba!
Puzzled about what to blog about this week, I started looking into beekeeping in Cuba and found some pretty interesting things!
What better time to share this honey-rich history than while I am laying on their very beaches!
When you think of Cuba, the first things you think of are rum and cigars.
Beekeeping hadn't even crossed my mind as an industry that is flourishing in Cuba until I started to do some digging.
Beekeeping was introduced to Cuba by America in the early 1900's. The American's came to build and own honey farms, which they ran from home in the US. Since then, the industry grew and at one point was one of the big money makers that the island contributed to the American economy.
What is very interesting is what happened after the United States severed ties with Cuba during the Cold War in 1961. Their most important foreign trade parter became the Soviet Union and later, after it's collapse in 1991, Cuba had a very difficult time purchasing pesticides.
This forced the country to start practicing organic agriculture.
There are chances that local pesticides may have been created and used, but for the most part the widespread use of pesticides is non existent. The policies put in place, that are still enforced today, made way for a pesticide-free way of farming. This created better, safer and healthier crops for the honey bees to use at their will.
What at first seemed like a burden, contributed to organic honey becoming Cuba's fourth most valuable export!
Another bonus from being isolated in the trade market is less chance of passing along international parasites to the bees, such as varroa mites. The seperation from these parasites has made the honey bee population flourish.
As we know, two of the biggest threats to honey bees is pesticides and parasites. This island has been doing a good job of steering away from both of these factors. Is Cuba the ultimate honey bee paradise?
From where I am sitting in the sand, they definitely have the paradise part down.