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Fifth International Conference on Apiculture in Tropical Climates

Delegates from 44 countries travelled to the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago to participate in this Conference in September.

These Conferences have taken place every four years since 1976 with each one attended by ever greater numbers of people. The Conference was convened by IBRA and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Delegates had a full six-day programme arranged for them: nine Conference sessions; workshop meetings. two half-day visits to apiaries and beekeepers in Trinidad; a full day visit to Tobago; and social events too. Delegates reported that they found the Conference worthwhile, useful and stimulating event.


The Conference took place in the University of the West Indies in Trinidad where excellent facilities were made available.


The week started with splendid opening ceremony. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, government and university officials, and representatives of international organisations joined with all the delegates for this event.


Delegates came from:

Africa: Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania

Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand

Caribbean: Antigua, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Christopher Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad Tobago

Central South America: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Surinam, Venezuela

Europe: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK

Middle East: Saudi Arabia

North America: Canada, USA

Pacific: Solomon Islands

Travelling from some of these countries to Trinidad and Tobago was a long journey! Delegates from developing countries were enabled to participate under sponsorship from CTA, The Commonwealth Foundation, FAO, GTZ, IFS (Sweden), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (The Netherlands), NORAD, ODA and VSO.


At our last Conference delegates asked for more time for discussion, and to have fewer concurrent sessions. In response we arranged this Conference over six days rather than five, and with greater number of authors persuaded to give presentations as poster displays rather than orally. This certainly seemed to work well.

Simultaneous translation from English into Spanish and French was provided, and every session was attended by 100+ people. Papers were followed by lively debate. Inevitably delegates had brought additional slides and videos for presentation these were shown in evening sessions when discussions continued late!

The poster presentations proved very worthwhile as delegates had opportunities to view these throughout the week and discuss them with the authors. Groups of people were gathered around the poster displays most of the time, with much sharing of ideas and experience.


The exhibition consisted of beekeeping displays from Trinidad and Tobago and other countries, national honey competition, equipment demonstrations and trade stands.

Technical visits

Much effort was extended by the Local Organizing Committee in arranging an excellent programme of technical visits. Two half-day visits to beekeepers in Trinidad were provided, with choice of five different destinations for each. The host beekeepers were well prepared for the visitors and most welcoming. Everyone had ample opportunity to satisfy their urge to handle honey bees.

On Wednesday of the Conference week all delegates travelled to Tobago for full day visit. The logistics involved in getting everyone to Tobago and back in one day were difficult and had been major problem during Conference planning, mainly with regard to availability of sufficient return air tickets. However it was achieved on the day, with 170 delegates participating in the visit. There were visits to both government and private apiaries and again all had good opportunities to open hives and handle the bees.

Delegates enjoyed the chance to compare the behaviour of the different honey bees races: Africanized honey bees have been present in Trinidad since 1979 but the honey bees in Tobago are those still of European origin. African delegates did not find the “Africanized” bees greatly different from their bees at home.

Workshop sessions

These were held towards the end of the Conference and allowed delegates to discuss matters which had arisen, or perhaps had not been covered, earlier in the week. Everyone could suggest resolutions, and these were then considered by all at the closing ceremony.

Social events

The Local Organizing Committee had arranged steel bands, limbo dancers and local cuisine for the evenings of the first and last days. Together with the technical visits all these activities allowed delegates excellent opportunities to meet.

Post-Conference tours 

Further technical visits were arranged for the two days immediately following the Conference and many were keen to see yet more bees. The first tour focused on stingless bees, the second on honey bees.

Matters arising

It is not possible to report here all the subjects raised during the Conference, but some of the major themes were:

- Beekeeping projects are aimed often at the rural poor but it was the experience of delegates that there continues to be poor communication between those who plan projects and those who are intended to carry them out or to benefit from them.

- There is considerable scope for further research on tropical bees and beekeeping.

- There is a strong need for more extension material on beekeeping, and available in languages other than English.

- There still exist few opportunities for appropriate training.

- Delegates discussed the validity of beekeeping projects and the necessity for project proposals to be prepared carefully.

- Caribbean beekeepers took the opportunity to meet: outcomes of a four-hour meeting of the Caribbean Apicultural Development Association (CADA) were the establishment of constitution and election of office

- African delegates arranged their own meeting: they discussed the necessity for appropriate training for African extensionists, the requirement for equipment and technical expertise appropriate to their region, and expressed desire for a beekeeping journal for Africa.

- Asian delegates were busy throughout the Conference, finalising plans for the second meeting of the Asian Apicultural Association, in Indonesia next year.

- Stingless bees received a new emphasis. These are tropical bee species which have been harvested by traditional societies, particularly in tropical America where honey bees are not native. Their harvesting can continue to provide a low-input, low-output income source for rural people, and they may represent an area of untapped potential. Entomologists are currently interested in unravelling the life history and biology of these bees.

- Honey bee diseases are still being taken to new areas by man. There is awareness of the urgent necessity for legislative control of honey bee importation.


The Conference created lot of work for many people. However their efforts were fruitful, with the Conference providing an exceptional opportunity for those interested in tropical honey bees to meet and share findings. It seems to have been the most successful of these Conferences so far in terms of good organisation, the venue, the arrangement of sessions, and possibilities for discussion between participants.

Nicola Bradbear's participation in the Conference was funded by the ODA, UK

IBRA wishes to express its appreciation and thanks to all involved. In particular:

The Honourable Patrick Manning, Prime Minister

Dr Rowley, Minister of Agriculture, Land Marine Resources

Mr Rudder, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources

Dr Samaroo, previously Minister of Agricult Land and Marine Resources

Mr Cross, High Commissioner, London

Mr Mathews, High Commission, London

Mr Hallint, Secretary, Local Organizina Committee

Mrs Zaida Rajnauth, Chairperson, Local Organizing Commitlee

Beekeepers of Trinidad and Tobago The Local Organizing Committee

The International Steering Committee

CTA, The Commonwealth Foundation. FAO, GTZ, IFS (Sweden),

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (The Netherlands), NORAD, ODA and VSO

Oral and poster presentations made at the Conference will be given in full in the Conference Proceedings these will be published by IBRA in April 1993. Watch out for further details in Beekeeping & Development.