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David Westervelt

David Westervelt of Umatilla, Florida started beekeeping at the age of 6 and continued hi interest during his 10 year career in the armed forces where he worked with bees in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Costa Rica, and Peru. Upon retiring from the armed forces, Westervelt started a commercial apiary and started working as a local bee inspector for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services first as a Bee Inspector then as an Environmental Specialist I and Researcher and now as the Chief Apiary Inspector. Westervelt has received numerous have received several awards for research work on honey bees from the United State Department Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Apiary Inspectors of America, Florida State Beekeepers Association, National Honey Producers, American Beekeeper Association, and the Davis Productivity award.



Through a sustained program of apiary trainings in Dominica over the years FAVACA experts have provided the inspectors of Pure Blossom Hives and others instructors in the beekeeping industry on queen rearing. After several years of practicing and implementing the new techniques, the amount of hives on the island has increased significantly. Pure Blossom Hives requested the assistance of FAVACA to follow up on the training to provide experts on how and when a hive can be divided into two hives and the queen bee can be removed and transported across the country to expand the population. David Westervelt, Tavares, from the Florida Department of Agriculture's Division of Plant Industry's Apiary Inspection Section traveled to Dominica May 29-June 8, 2011 and Bo Sterk, St. Augustine, traveled May 29-June 2, 2011 to work with Pure Blossom Hives to train on queen rearing and transportation. Unfortunately, the queens were not in the condition for queen rearing due to excessive rainy weather or lack of food. While inspecting the hives, Sterk and Westervelt did notice that some pests were present and provided members of Pure Blossom Hives with some information on pest management. While in Dominica, Westervelt and Sterk were able to work with another beekeeping organization, the Dominican Honey Coop to provide a beginning beekeepers training that the coop will be able to use in schools to get new young beekeepers and particularly women involved in beekeeping. The Florida beekeepers also provide pest management trainings to the Dominican Honey Coop to ensure they monitor their hives for a variety of pests that could negatively affect hive populations.


The sixth annual Caribbean Beekeeping Congress took place in Grenada May 23-27, 2011 bringing together beekeepers from the Caribbean and Latin America to discuss the progress of beekeeping across the region. A variety of technical papers were presented during the conference by leading experts in the field of beekeeping. Topics included: the Secure and Sustainable Biology of Honeybees; International Beekeeping Development Issues; Strengthening, Securing and Sustaining Caribbean Beekeeping; Honeybee Nutrition; How the Caribbean Adapted to the African Honeybee and Disease; and Beekeeping in Haiti. Three FAVACA volunteers were in attendance at the conference and provided several of the technical lectures. Doug Corbin, Pensacola, and David Westervelt, Tavares, both from the Florida Department of Agriculture's Division of Plant Industry's Apiary Inspection Section along with Bo Sterk, St. Augustine, traveled to the conference, May 22-28, 2011. In addition to providing technical papers, the FAVACA volunteers were able to work with local beekeepers on pest management issues, beekeeping operations, and hive maintenance. As a result of the Congress, the Eastern Caribbean Honeybee Research Center was established at the St. George University to serve as a beekeeping outreach center to farmers and the agricultural sector in Grenada and the Caribbean.


Beekeeping in the Caribbean has suffered great setbacks in the past several decades due to the introduction of Africanized bees, the Vero mite, and habitat loss due to man-made and natural disasters. One island that has been relatively protected from many of the setbacks in beekeeping is Dominica, however; due to the lack of training in key aspects of the profession, many beekeepers are unable to increase the number, quality, and health of hives. In order to help beekeepers obtain the necessary skills to maintain and increase beekeeping on the island, Pure Blossom Hives contacted FAVACA to provide experts in beekeeping to teach about queen rearing, royal jelly extraction, and pollen collecting. Veteran FAVACA volunteers from the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection, Doug Corbin, Pensacola, and David Westervelt, Umatilla, traveled to Roseau, Dominica July 4-26, 2009. The volunteers provided training on a variety of aspects important in keeping a healthy hive, how to increase the bee population through queen rearing, and how to collect pollen which could lead to new commercial enterprises. Field visits and lectures were conducted across the country from Portsmouth and Colihauat in the North to Marigot and Riviere Cyrique in the East to Roseau in the South including the communities of Londonderry Farms, Stork Farm, and Roseau Central. Participants included members of the Dominican Organic Agriculture Movement and staff from the Ministry of Agriculture. The volunteers taught beekeeping to women and youth at the Dominica State College and several participants from the Carib Indians. The FAVACA volunteers also held a workshop for the beekeepers on how they could produce hive woodenware from local woods; they worked alongside Home Industries, a local hardware store, in the manufacturing of woodenware, hive bodies, supers, frames, lids, bottom boards, aluminum lid covers, queen cell molding tools and pollen traps. Previously, bee hives and tools were imported to the island but this workshop established a valuable source of bee woodenware in Dominica manufactured by local labor and resources. The last result from the training entails the participants working with educational institutions across the island to create both a primary school program for beginning beekeeping and to create a college level course for experienced beekeepers based on the Florida Bee College and Florida Master Beekeeping program.


Benito Jasmin, Field Officer for the Farmer to Farmer program in Haiti, requested assistance from FAVACA in order to help local beekeepers in the Department of the Northeast to strengthen the health of their hives while also increasing the production of honey. First time volunteer David Westervelt, Umatilla, Florida, a long time inspector for the State of Florida's Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection, and Todd Jameson of Riverview and also with the Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection, volunteered from February 27-March 12, 2008 in order to work with local farmers in helping to identify harmful diseases and pests such as the varroa mite and the wax moth. Diseases and pests can create havoc on the health of a hive and Westervelt and Jameson provided hands on training on how to identify these disease and pests and how to treat a hive that is infected and how to take preventative measures so that hives continue to remain healthy. In addition to helping to identify harmful diseases and pests, Westervelt and Jameson were able to work with a variety of different beekeeping associations throughout the North and Northeast Department of Haiti and they were able to provide a great deal of strategies to maintain a healthy hives and to increase the production of honey without destroying the hive.

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