You might be familiar with the word Beekeeping! In short, it is the practice of maintaining honey bee by humans. Why keep bees when they sting? Bees are reared or maintained in hives to collect their honey and other products. Beekeeping is also known as Apiculture where the bees are maintained for commercial purposes. It is an agro based enterprise which allow the farmers to earn additional income.
How does this work?
Honey bees collect nectar from flowers and convert them into honey which are stored in their hive. These hives are then collected by beekeepers and honey is collected from them.
Apiculture in Meghalaya
Apiculture can play a vital role in the livelihood promotion of the farmers in Meghalaya. In order to intensify the production of honey in the state, the Government of Meghalaya, launched the State Apiculture Mission under the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Program (IBDLP) on 16th October 2014.
We found a report “In Conservation with people of Meghalaya, Apiculture mission”, April 2015, a MBDA publication under the IBDLP. We bring you an extract from this report, which also covers the launch of the Apiculture Mission
The Apiculture Mission aims at:
- Reducing poverty, generating employment and promoting livelihood
- Intensifying the production of honey in the state
- Motivating and educating the traditional beekeepers for adopting modern beekeeping practices.
- Expanding the need and requirement of honey in the growing social matrix
- Creating market linkages for profitable marketing of honey and honey products
Inaugurating the Mission, Dr. Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya said:
Apiculture is being taken up as a separate mission because there is an understanding that beekeeping business can supplement the livelihood activity. Moreover, it will help in enhancing the productivity level of agricultural and horticultural crops and at the same time will help in conservation of bio-diversity in general.
The MBDA report on Apiculture Mission carries some interesting interviews with experts in this field. We bring you a few snippets.
What is the difference you find in the quality of honey produced in other parts of the country and the honey produced here in the state?
“The honey produced in the state of Meghalaya is almost organic. The farmers keep their beehives in the forest area where no pesticides, fertilizers, weedicides or any other kind of chemicals are used. The plus point in perspective of Meghalaya’s honey is one of the best in the country due to the multifloral type of ecology.”
The semi urban youth of the state are being trained for understanding the entrepreneurial value of honey. What is the probable outcome of these trainings?
“Modern beekeeping has three kinds of production system. First is the production of honey which the farmers are doing in their boxes. But once the honey is produced it has to be processed, bottled, packed and marketed, which has to reach the customers at the end. We are training them not as honey producer but as an entrepreneur in beekeeping, so they take the processing further and in fact they are showing a keen interest. We are also emphasizing programs that help beekeepers understand the business of apiculture, and become viable entrepreneurs.”
-Prof. L.R. Verma,
Leader for Apiculture Mission
Govt. of Meghalaya
What is the best season for honey harvesting?
“Here in Meghalaya in the month of November and December there is one minor harvesting season which we call as the growth period. The main harvesting usually starts from the last week of February to April and if the monsoon is late then it might extend up to the month of May.”
– Dr. Kanchanmoy Das,
Beekeeping and Extraction Expert,
Here is what one of the Beekeeper had to say!
“For us here in our village, beekeeping is something that has been practiced for generations, we believe that a house with bees is active and healthy household, earlier beekeeping was a hobby but now it has become an income generating practice and a very good source of livelihood.”
Meet Successful Apiculture Entrepreneurs
Mr. Rothel Khongsit and Mr. Jipson Roy Sohklet of Khatarshnong Block, both degree holders took up beekeeping as their primary occupation with the help of Apiculture mission and reaped great rewards. These young entrepreneurs benefited from the training they got and are now happy to be doing well in the field of Apiculture.
Team Zizira had the opportunity to attend the honey tasting event at the International Terra Madra 2015 held in Shillong and here is what the team learnt:
- In Mawkyrwat, East Khasi Hills, bee keeping is conducted under a federation called The Joint Federation & Association Farmer’s Marketing & Consumers Society (JFAFMCS)
- There are two methods practiced by the beekeepers in this village, ‘Traditional Bee Box’ where a round log box is covered with stones and the ‘Technology Bee Box’ where the box is covered with a plank.
- The production of honey from the traditional method is around 7-10 Kg and the technology bee box method produces around 10 – 15 Kg.
- The federation markets its honey under the brand “Neat” (NEAT – North East Agro-business Trade)
Beekeeping seems to be extremely promising as an economic activity and could act as a mean to improve the livelihood of people from Meghalaya. The Apiary Missions seems to be playing a stellar role in promoting Apiculture.
Zizira is looking at organic, flavouful honey as a potential product for its online store. Soon you may be able to order, receive at your doorsteps and relish honey from the pristine hills of Meghalaya!
Hope this information was useful to you! We hope to bring more such summaries of reports by organizations like the MBDA that are working to help improve the livelihood of the people of Meghalaya, specially farmers.
Feel free to let us know by adding your comments below. If you have any questions about the unique produce of Meghalaya or if you would like to share any farmers success stories, do contact us.