Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Bee Sustainable

Had an opportunity to address about significance of bees to our food and bio-diversity. Sharing my first TEDx talk held at Indus business academy on December 13th 2017.

Like our facebook page www.facebook.com/thehivetrust for more updates about our work towards conserving bees and beekeeping practices.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Beekeeping initiative at Dantewada,Chattisgarh

After the last visit, we have sent 50 Apis cerana colonies with boxes to Dantewada on November 9th 2017.This logistics of Apis cerana colonies is a longest distance(1380km) ever recorded in Cerana beekeeping industry which took 3 nights and 5 days to reach Dantewada from Bangalore. Now, since all the required livestock and equipment reached the place, we need to develop skills to the community. Along with our local partner Pragati prayas samajik seva sanstha(PPSSS),Dantewada lead by Mr.Ram Narendra, we organised 10 days of intense training program to more than 80 tribal families. The days which I spent there created a life time memory since I got to travel to the most remote villages of Dantewada. Witnessed their rich culture and saw real innocence.

For few moments, I got to see their world. Being a social entrepreneur, I am really proud to say that I really have worked with the true grassroots of India. Until and unless you see the world of grassroots, you can’t really think or get close to the possible solution. The content life of the tribal way keeps you so confused throughout the travel. Questions which linger in your mind about rights and wrongs will make you to reason the very core purpose of many modern concepts of development.

Beekeeping is all about skills to identify the changes inside the hive. Now, if we transfer technology and develop skills, the tribal communities can innovate the way of doing beekeeping by getting hives and equipment done with the local resources. The developed skill will be converted to work, engagement and values. This is the real contribution that we have to impart for the grassroots.    

An orientation talk to the farmers of Karli,Dantewada.With Rama narendra

An orientation meeting with women SHGs of Nerli and Kameli,Dantewada

Fermentation of mahua flowers

Rosella – they call it khatti bhaji which makes delicious chutney in bowl made of palaash leaves

Training at PPSSS,Chitalanka,Dantewada

Training to women SHGs and tribal families at Faraspal

We randomly stopped at keshapur,Dantewada a very remote village. We found few kids playing and called them to give a bee-talk.Explained them about how cerana bees can be transferred to the box for rearing.

We divided the colony and gave it to a participant. Their family got really excited about the new hive. 

On 30th December, a Manager of NABARD from Jagadalpur Mr.Jena  came to the event and expressed NABARD’s support for the Beekeeping project at Dantewada.

No words for the support from district administration lead by Mr.Saurabh Kumar,Collector of Dantewada who came to the launch event and addressed tribal families to take up beekeeping in community level.I would like to thank Mr.Kritesh Hirvani,Principal of Livelihood college,Dantewada. A classic example of how an efficient and dynamic bureaucracy can make things to move faster. We are reaching 100 tribal families to develop skills and supply bee colonies with equipment at Dantewada.In addition to this initiative, we will work with SHGs of Bijapur and Sukma districts covering at least 500 tribal families as directed by NABARD in about 6 months.

Our effort to create a beekeeping ecosystem is at the right path and pace. We are slowly developing a team of tribal youth at PPSSS,Dantewada. As a passionate beekeeper, it so heart warming to see beekeeping reaching to right community.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Buzzing in the land of Mahua trees -An unforgettable Chattisgarh

Few years ago a writer 'Grace Pundyk' from Australia gifted me her work 'Honey Trail'.A book which narrates her travel across globe explaining history of honey from times of Egyptian civilization to the modern story of retail honey market. I started to relate to the contents of her book when i started my trip to Chattisgarh. A tribal state with 80% of forest cover and mostly Mahua trees.Tribal communities at chattisgarh make traditional 'Mahua wine' from fallen flowers.Along with a friend Ram narendra who runs an NGO 'Pragati prayas sanstha' at Dantewada,Chattisgarh, i had an opportunity to travel one of the deep and interior areas of chattisgarh. I met many tribal youth, government authorities who are putting lot of effort to skill rural communities regarding many aspects including organic farming,tailoring,horticulture and non-violent rock bee honey collection.An interactive time with tribal youth regarding 'Transfer of native Cerana bee colonies to the beehive box' was an eyeopener to the tribal community. I played a video and explained the steps involved in it since rains are pouring in this season.

Though Cerana bees have high absconding nature, it is important to practice with native species so that no ecological imbalance takes place. Skilling tribal communities about 'Hiving'(Transfer colony from natural habitat to the beehive box) will bring in sustainability in the tribal beekeeping model since they can always start by hiving native bees when honey flow starts. Chattisgarh's agricultural practices consumes less pesticides when compared to other farming states which makes more conducive space for beekeeping activity.

All communities and government departments of Chattisgarh are working hard to bring in peace and prosperity through various means. Skill development and creation of opportunities will change the course of the state for sure. All the sacred beliefs,ecology and tribal way of life will be holistically preserved if activities like beekeeping can be introduced in these areas.Finally, beekeeping should reach right places!

On my Honey trail

Beekeeping orientation at Chote tumnar,Dantewada

Found tribal women selling bamboo shoots on the way to Bijapur

Talking to Rock bee honey hunters of Dantewada

Talking to a tribal leader about starting beekeeping at their village 


Stingless bee colony - Someone had opened up to take honey


Fall of Beekeeping paradise? My survey at Coorg's present status

From many decades, we (south indians) directly related the words - 'honey and beekeeping' to Coorg(kodagu). A land locked district which grows coffee,cardamom,peppers etc also was famous for honey and traditional beekeeping practices. Before 1990, Coorg was one of the best honey producer in the country. After the attack of 'Thai sach brood disease, the whole beekeeping industry at Coorg fell apart. Beekeeping community lost confidence in this activity and slowly found sustainability in activities like plantation and ever growing Eco-tourism.At that transition,the beekeeping community which had acquired best knowledge of region and species specific beekeeping did not transfer it to the younger generation or younger generation did not found beekeeping as a lucrative activity.Due to this gap, the beekeeping is happening in micro level.

I went to survey around north Coorg,Somwarpet. The scenic beauty of western ghats continues to surprise me with its diversity of flora and fauna. And my favorite - small villages between hilly forests.I went there with my friend Lakshmikanth who used to be with me in my bootstrapping days.
We went to Pushpagiri hills which was one of the points of traditional beekeepers.We crashed in to many homes and asked questions about beekeeping and honey production.The road was heading to 'Mallalli falls' where lot of tourists travel through everyday. Since tourists trust the word 'Coorg Honey' they ask for honey in nearby villages.Many homes at villages have 2-4 beehives and very few beekeepers have more than 15 beehives.

After talking to few beekeepers, i can say few things.Confidence is back after thai sach disease but there is lack of knowledge. Beekeepers tell some anecdotal stuff about decrease in wild trees which is responsible for high nectar yielding (could be true since deforestation is universal)and decrease in colony size.During 1980s, the beekeepers of same village used to harvest honey from sweet 8 supers!.Now, it is reduced to 2 supers and these are Apis cerana indica(black strain).All boxes are kept without stands and will be placed on ground in coffee plantations.And one more thing is colonies swarm inside the empty boxes every year! Yes, they apply aromatic bee wax in the box after cleaning it on October every year, bees will find pheromones and aroma of wax in the box which invites whole swarm to become a home for them.They don't inspect brood at all, they just harvest honey whenever it is ready.

Talking about money from honey,there is no doubt that they are selling their harvested honey(small volumes) to premium price which is unaccounted since these sales are not channelized through any of the co-operative beekeeping societies.Because society's buying price is rock bottom when compared to what they are selling to money spending tourists who knock door for a bottle of honey.And beekeeping societies are settling themselves more on trading honey and less on beekeeping promotion since they want to jump in to main stream retail market which is dominated by big brands!

We are missing a point- Role of pollinators density required during coffee blossom which makes Coorg richer by 30% of what it is now.I hope people of Coorg will soon start thinking about rejuvenating beekeeping culture and tradition for the sake of ecology,economy and heritage! I will be very happy to help you to achieve it :-)

Old boxes placed on land

Chengappa(beekeeper's) Apiary

Mallalli falls

walking to chengappa's apiary

me (Apoorva) with chengappa in the middle and Lakshmikanth on the right

Bee Sustainable

Had an opportunity to address about significance of bees to our food and bio-diversity. Sharing my first TEDx talk held at Indus business a...