Native honey bee conservation through sustainable livelihood in Konkan region

Through this effort, SNM is encouraging people to start native honey bee keeping with modern apiculture techniques.

  • Basic training in bee-keeping
  • Equipping people with honey bee boxes
  • Appropriate guidance
  • Encouraging Alternate livelihood
  • Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata)
 

Bee-keeping has been a traditional and cultural practice as a source of livelihood since time immemorial. The scientific principle and modern bee-keeping came into being at the end of the nineteenth century. Bee-keeping is a forest and agro-based sustainable ecology and economic-based source of livelihood. Honeybees are one of the social insects that pollinate one or more cultivars of the world’s 1,500 crop species and are directly or indirectly essential for an estimated 1/3rd of world’s food production. Humans derive benefits from the interaction between two living things - plants and bees, without affecting either adversely. On the contrary plants, including many crops, prosper with the abundance of bees (as pollinating agents) and the bees, both by nature and by human intervention provide mainly honey and other by-products. The rapid Industrial sheltered development, use of potential chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, and deforestation has had a heavy negative impact on the honeybee diversity as well as agricultural biodiversity. This has indirectly impacted the nearby forest area. Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) has taken the initiative to revive the traditional and cultural practice of bee-keeping as a source of livelihood in Konkan region with modern approach and scientific principles.

Konkan region is formed of mostly secondary lateritic plateaus, hilly tracks, and coastal sandy low land belts. Littoral or mangrove forests, open scrub forests, moist deciduous forests and herbaceous flora of laterite plateaus are main components of vegetation adjoining agricultural land. Native honeybee Apis cerena species is very well adapted to the environmental factor of the region which is suitable for their growth and honey production.

Honey harvesting is a regular practice done by tribals as well as local people in Konkan region. But it consists of traditional methods of honey harvesting like use of fire to burn the bees and removing whole hive to harvest the honey. Such practices adversely affect the bee population. Also, the honey harvested from such traditional methods contains wax, larvae and other impurities which affects the quality of yield and hence reduces profit. Increasing the value of honey increased the number of people in honey harvesting business but it reduced the bee population rapidly. Use of modern methods of apiculture is the best option for harvesting honey without affecting the bee population. Honey harvested using modern methods contains less impurities thus fetching higher price in the market. There is no need to locate the bee hives or to climb hills & trees thus the method is less risky. Anyone can practice it with a bit of knowledge about bee-keeping. As per their role in nature, honey bees play a vital role in pollination of crops as well as the wild flora. This can be used to improve our agricultural production. Studies have shown that keeping bee boxes in the fields increases the agricultural production by 35 to 40%. Thus, using the artificial bee colonies compensates for the decreased number of honey bees in wild and also provides benefit to the agricultural production in the region.

Recognizing the current need of conservation of native honey bee species SNM started the project named Sustainable Source of Livelihood Through Native Honeybee Conservation in Western Ghats. Through this effort SNM is encouraging people to start native honey bee keeping with modern apiculture techniques.
  • Basic training in bee-keeping
    To encourage people on bee-keeping SNM conducts a program in which people get introduced to various aspects of modern day apiculture. In this program proper training of bee-keeping and routine checkup is given.
  • Equipping people with honey bee boxes
    SNM provides bee boxes to bee-keepers at their place with guidance for initial care of bee boxes and engagement with it which is crucial for new bee-keepers.
  • Appropriate guidance
    SNM is providing guidance to bee-keepers on all levels as possible. We are providing expert visits on location as well as telephonic and social guidance.
  • Encouraging Alternate livelihood
    To increase involvement of people in bee-keeping SNM has announced a prize money of Rs. 500 for finding each wild honey bee hive of native bee species. These bee hives are later trans-located to bee boxes and supplied to bee-keepers.
  • Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata)
    SNM is also developing honey extraction from hives of giant honey bees (Apis dorsata) which yield 50-80 KG honey per year, with lesser adverse effect on bees. This will help in conservation as well as to get better yield annually.

This initiative will not only help to get livelihood but also make people aware about the ecological and economic importance of such insects (Honeybee).

It will encourage people in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, India to participate in the conservation and sustainable growth with a pure organic product.