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

World Honey bee day - Bangalore

August 19th is declared as world honey bee day.For the first time in the history of beekeeping, India celebrated across country in all agriculture universities,horticulture department branches and Khadi & village industries commission played a very important role to take up this opportunity to spread awareness about honey,bees and beekeeping to the society.

In Bangalore, world honey bee day was observed and in association with KVIC,Bangalore The HIVE organised one day workshop for beginners and drawing competition for children on 19th August. Followed by this, we organised many drawing and essay competition in rural schools of Bangalore.
Before competition, i went to all schools and gave them a presentation and talk about how honey bees are important for our ecosystem,agriculture and also food security.Children expressed their thoughts through drawing in their own way.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Beekeeping feasibility survey and orientation to rural women of Haliyal,Uttara kannada,karnataka

A feasibility survey on beekeeping at haliyal's rural areas conducted where an NGO called 'Cherysh- India' is working on education and women empowerment. Beekeeping at villages which is surrounded by forest cover is an ideal and eco-friendly activity to take up. Beekeeping not only generates additional income to these women, but also it will reduces forest dependence for honey which is a nutrition  and medicine for children. After surveying 9 villages, few villages are selected to check interest level of people who are willing to take up this activity


kalagina koppa


Natural farming summit - Art of living

Many farmers and innovators in farming system across country and even across globe participated at 'Natural farming summit' at Art of living international centre,Bangalore. Since we have been an associates of Art of living for beekeeping at their farms, I had an opportunity to address regarding significance of beekeeping in natural farming to improve productivity and saving our pollinators.It was a short and sweet presentation which is appreciated by many.

Beekeeping introduction to farmers at 'Belevala farm', Mysore

An introduction about beekeeping and pollination provided to farmers of mysore,mandya,ramanagara. Most of the farmers are organic growers and beekeeping is one of an important aspect to maintain balance in micro ecosystem of the particular farm/plantation. Belavala farm's Director Dr.Ramakrishnappa explained about concept of 'ecological farming' which means understanding of ecology in agriculture. It was very interesting to know that how one particular plant can support whole major crop by inviting micro nutrients and providing required climatic conditions as if like a mother's care on her infant. Belavala farm is a symbol of perseverance and strong belief on 'organic farming'.And honey bees will play an important role to maintain ecological balance at belavala farm.


Bee-human conflict in urban India

A call to save bees in urban habitat The moment you see a big beehive at your balcony, it is natural to get scared and continue p...