PUERTO RICO & US VIRGIN ISLANDS BEE RESCUE CAMPAIGN
Help Save The Bees of the Caribbean!
Please help the pollinators on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands today. GoFundMe link to Fund for Puerto Rico’s Pollinators:
Our growing campaign is taking action to help pollinators on the Caribbean islands recover. We are pleased to report that the first relief supplies have already reached the islands and are being distributed to beekeepers! But we need your help to achieve our goals. DOUBLE YOUR CONTRIBUTION! Blue Diamond Growers has generously pledged to MATCH the next $5,000 in Donations.
This Campaign seeks to:
- Provide immediate relief and support for PR and USVI beekeepers.
- Raise funds ($50,000 goal); and deliver supplemental protein for 3,000 hives and 1,000 replacement hives over the next six months, while the ecosystems and floral resources recover.
- Help strengthen beekeeping and pollination services on the islands.
- Assess the impacts of the hurricanes on the islands’ other pollinating species to determine how help can be provided.
Hurricanes have devastated Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (USVI), crippling infrastructure, along with access to electricity, water, and other basic necessities. Agriculture was decimated, too. Cropland, family farms, and food systems were largely destroyed, and nearly $780 million in crop losses have been recorded so far on Puerto Rico alone.
Bees on Puerto Rico and the USVI have been hit just as hard.
The islands’ beekeepers are essential to local agriculture and specialty crops on the islands. On Puerto Rico, fewer than 150 beekeepers provide 7% of the honey consumed on the island, and these men and women maintain an estimated 4,000 domestic hives. On the USVI about a dozen beekeepers manage about 800 hives. From pineapples to coffee to countless fruits and vegetables, honeybees and other pollinators are the key to the recovery of agriculture on the islands.
Surviving bees are in danger of starving.
Recent hurricanes stripped the islands of their floral resources, effectively denying that critical nutritional resource to these “natural farmers.”
Beekeepers are trying to keep their bees alive in the short term by providing sugar water; but without a floral resource to provide essential proteins through pollen, surviving colonies are at risk of collapsing. Commercially produced protein sources used by beekeepers in the continental U.S. are unavailable on the islands.
The hurricanes not only resulted in colony losses of up to 80% but also destroyed most of the Langstroth wooden hives used by beekeepers to house their bees. Bees that survived the destruction of their hives have swarmed, taking up residence in people’s homes and other structures, creating health and safety concerns.
Beekeepers are working hard to recover, but are in desperate need of our help to secure supplemental protein sources and replacement Langstroth hives to house their bees.
Progress is being made to transport relief supplies to the islands:
- To date, space was donated on a Syngenta-funded relief flight that landed on October 24, and the Humane Society has donated space on their upcoming relief shipments.
- Another partner is developing warehouse and container shipping options at Jacksonville.
- Currently all relief supplies are being shipped to Puerto Rico, and the on-the-ground team on Puerto Rico is arranging to forward supplies to the USVI by barge.
Formidable logistical issues on the island are being addressed by dedicated partners:
- Cesar Ramirez, Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, and Tugrul Giray, Ph.D., Dept. of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, are coordinating logistics on Puerto Rico, including distribution to beekeepers.
- Toni Downs, beekeeper on St. Croix, is coordinating the response on the USVI.
|American Beekeeping Federation|
|American Honey Producers Association|
|Bayer CropScience LP|
|Blue Diamond Growers|
|Dadant and Sons|
|Florida State Beekeepers Association|
|Honey Bee Health Coalition|
|National Honey Board|
|Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture|
|Sweet Virginia Foundation|
|Syngenta and PRABIA (Puerto Rico Agricultural Biotechnology Industry Association)|
|University of Puerto Rico, Department of Biology