Secretary of Agriculture, Temarama Anguna-Kamana and Beekeeping Advisor (VSA) Volunteer Services Abroad, David Cramp. Photo: MELINA ETCHES/22081001
The Cook Islands has “unbelievably feisty bees,” according to Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) beekeeping advisor David Cramp.
Cramp has been stationed in Rarotonga for the past three months, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and beekeepers in the community.
Not only has he
been busy visiting and checking out the beehives around the island and on the
island of Mauke, Cramp has been writing a manual – the first ‘A Guide to
Beekeeping in the Cook Islands’ which will benefit the existing 20 local
beekeepers and the upcoming ones.
Cramp said most
beekeeping books were too generic, something a bit more specific to the Cook
Islands was better.
“I kept the manual
fairly simple and basic, it is designed for beekeepers in the community and for
beekeepers who want to start out, newcomers can pick it up and get started,” he
A special farewell
function and launch of the book was held yesterday morning at the Ministry of
Agriculture office in Arorangi.
Speaking about the
types of bees in the Cook Islands, Cramp explained: “The dark coloured bees are
probably the old British dark bees or the Northern European and some bees found
on the island of Mauke are yellower, which means they are probably Italian
honey bees brought in by New Zealand – so they’re noticeably more calm and
nicer to deal with. “
humankinds only true wild livestock.
“You can never
have a pet bee … no matter how nice you are or if you feed them. They don’t
care, whether you feed them every day, every week or never.
“To a bee, the
beekeeper is rather an irrelevance or someone to be attacked… that’s how bees
are and because for the simple fact they are truly wild they don’t take any
notice of the restrictions placed on them by beekeepers or farmers.”
Bees adapt to the
local conditions on their own, they adapt to the local flora, the local
seasonal flow, the climate and local topography, Cramp said.
“The beauty of this
is you can do nothing about it except manage those adaptations, and so bees in
the Cook Islands have adapted themselves over a couple of hundreds of years to the
seasonal flows of the Cook Islands,” he said.
“It’s always a two-way
exchange and I’ve learnt an awful lot here. I’m glad I was able to pass on some
Agriculture, Temarama Anguna-Kamana said Cramp had also written standards of
welfare for livestock which will be included in the Agriculture regulations.
with VSA is a huge benefit to the Ministry of Agriculture since we don’t have
the capacity in the ministry to write this documentation in country,” said
has really lifted the profile for beekeeping in the Cook Islands and provided
some support to beekeepers – and now we have a guide they can use and he has
trained our staff to also provide support.”
Tina Mackie, the
VSA programme manager for Cook Islands, Tonga and Niue, worked with Cramp in
Tonga before Covid-19 disrupted plans.
“It’s never about
people coming and going, its very much about collaboration which is exactly
what happened here over the last three months,” said Mackie.
“The success of an
assignment is equally what the volunteer brings and what the partner organisation
brings,” she said, thanking Agriculture for their hospitality and enthusiasm.
‘A Guide to Beekeeping in the Cook Islands’ can be purchased at the Ministry of Agriculture in Arorangi for $25 each.