It all began with a favour. Back in 1995, a beekeeper in Islington, East Bank Berbice (EBB) asked 15-year-old Devon Gilead if he could accompany him to catch bees in the village. The teenager said yes.
Twenty-two years later, Gilead, now a father of two, has turned beekeeping into a successful business. He sells soaps, honey, candles, hair food and honey roasted nuts—all his products are made with honey or beeswax.
“I was fifteen years old when the man asked me to go with him to catch the bees. After the first time, I started going with him every day to catch the bees but he use to kill them so I said to myself, if we kill the bees then sooner or later we won’t get any honey,” Gilead said.
He explained that he approached the beekeeper and asked if he (Gilead) could start keeping bees, “He said that they (bees) are dangerous and he ain’t deh pon that so I went to another bee keeper and I bought a beehive.”
According to the 37-year-old man, it took a little over a year before the bees started staying in his hive. Now, he has managed to build a successful business with the trade he learned as a teen.
Although honey is the goal of many beekeepers, the hive offers another natural resource ready for processing: beeswax.
The father of two has since developed a love for the bees and nurtured the idea of developing value added products from honey and beeswax. “Once you get a love for something, you will get the very best out of it.”
Because his products are highly demanded in and around village, he is unable to expand. However, once he acquires more beehives, Gilead said he will be “going big” because he has the “natural stuff.”
“The products are selling very fast. A lot of people love it, but there are a lot of people in other parts of the country who do not know about it,” the aspiring businessman said while adding that none of his products have artificial ingredients.
The candles, he said, are made from the wax. After the honey is extracted from the honeycomb, the remains of the combs are put into a solar wax melter and the sun does the rest. The melted wax is then poured into molds and the candles are formed.
There is a high demand for the candles and soaps around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Devon and his wife, Allison, who acts as the marketing agent, make all the products from scratch.
According to the beekeeper, the majority of his hives are located in the mangroves at Islington.
Gilead’s small operation is located at Sixth Street, Islington Village.
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