Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Beekeeping for a successful sweet revolution

People from urban areas are buying honey from the market but many may not have seen bees’ everyday. We must remember that we all depend on the survival of bees but the irony is that bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities.
Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day.
Bees and other pollinators are fundamental for the health of ecosystems and food security. They help maintain biodiversity and ensure the production of nutritious food. There is no doubt that bees are under threat. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. Close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally.
If this trend continues, nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet. One of the career or business opportunities can be apiculture . Beekeeping or apiculture is the maintenance of bee colonies, commonly in man-made beehives. Honey bees in the genus Apis are the most commonly kept species but other honey producing bees such as Melipona stingless bees are also kept. Beekeepers (or apiarists) keep bees to collect honey and other products of the hive: beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly. Pollination of crops, raising queens, and production of package bees for sale are other sources of beekeeping income. Bee hives are kept in an apiary or “bee yard”.
The keeping of bees by humans, primarily for honey production, began around 10,000 years ago. Georgia is known as the “cradle of beekeeping” and the oldest honey ever found comes from that country. The 5,500-year-old honey was unearthed from the grave of a noblewoman during archaeological excavations in 2003 near the town Borjomi. Ceramic jars found in the grave contained several types of honey, including linden and flower honey. Domestication of bees can be seen in Egyptian art from around 4,500 years ago; there is also evidence of beekeeping in ancient China, Greece, and Maya.
To promote beekeeping in India we have the National Bee Board and National Beekeeping and Honey Mission. Khadi & Village Industries Commission also promotes activities related to bees in the country. At KVIC through its Central Bee Research & Training Institute (CBRTI), 15 State Beekeeping Extension centers (SBEC), 100 registered institutions, Cooperatives and State Khadi and Village Industries Boards undertake training programs throughout the country. Few training includes Diploma in Beekeeping (6 months) for which required qualification is B. Sc. (Biology/ Agri. / Forestry). There are other courses for which required academic qualification is either 10th pass or even without academic qualifications. The courses are Certificate course in Beekeeping, Rock-bee handling, Elementary Beekeeping, Short term course in beekeeping, Queen Rearing, pollination, bee pathology, CF Sheet, etc, Honey Processing, Analysis of honey, there are few tailor made or customized training programs according to need and demand , Training in Honey Testing Kit, etc .
Young people can be part of the sweet revolution and get engaged in beekeeping and honey production. Interested people may take up the required training and plan their future with apiculture. We must protect bees as they are important for us so getting engaged means earning and saving at the same time which would enhance sustainable development.
Ranjan K Baruah, Guwahati


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