Vicente Berdejo Escalante (Technico Apicola) has been a beekeeper for the last 50 years. Situated in Uxmal just south of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico he keeps over 100 hives spread over four locations with an annual average yield of 80 kg per hive/year. All this to explain that Vicente works hard for his income. As most Mexicans do. He loves his profession and has no intention to quit anytime soon. Besides, retirement is not always a financial option for many Yucatecans.
During the year he works alone. However at periods of extracting honey he employs some young muscle with trolleys. All of this is important as with temperatures in the high 30’s celcius, any advantage is important. Within a week from this written text the wind will cease and the heat will climb to possibly 40+ degrees celcius for the next month or more. For beekeepers this brings additional problems that we are unfamiliar with. Vicente will visit his hives each few days supplying abundant water and occasionally sugar syrup at times of dearth. A large proportion of nectar comes from the local trees. Jabin, Yaanic, Chaca and Dzidzilche (Mayan titles) were in flower at my time of visiting. Honey is an important product for the Yucatecan people with a very large amount exported to Europe, mostly Germany.
On a recent Sunday visit, Vicente and his wife were busy selling his honey and associated products, as he has done every Sunday, to the local population in the Plaza Grande, Merida.
Here we see Vicente explaining his method of treating his hives against the Varroa mite. Using his soap as the map of his hive, he wipes Vaseline around the exterior perimeter of a base plate that is placed at the bottom of his brood box. Explaining that the drone population (male) tends to “hang out” here, out of the way of the general working bee population (female). Treating every week or two he has never had a problem with mite infestation.
(I will report later on the Mayan village beekeepers with their stingless bees.)