Livestock | VOL.14, ISSUE 83, MAY-JUNE 2013

India’s bee industry calls for attention

A decade ago, Kuntanahalli, a village in Doddabalapur taluk, located 55 kms to the North West of Bangalore, was laden with bountiful produce throughout the year. As the Doddabalur town changed into a small industrial hub, the villagers started selling agricultural land while many quit farming. This in turn severely affected the apiary activity in the region. Lakshman Gowda, 51, a marginal farmer in Kuntanahalli recalls yields of 10-12 kgs of honey per year, per beehive box, a decade ago, from the Apis Cerana, an Asiatic honeybee variety suitable for domestication. However, today, it yields him just one third (3-4 kgs) with the same variety in the same place. Gowda, a third-generation apiculturist, practices beekeeping as a secondary activity, where agriculture is his main source of income. He seems to be well aware of the reasons for the decline. “The bees are not getting enough food. The loss of vegetation, the lesser cultivation of high-nectar yielding flower varieties, and excessive use of toxic pesticides are some of the reasons. This also results in reduction of honeybees to pollinate crops,” Gowda said. However, this has not deterred Gowda from becoming a model farmer who now trains other villagers for a secondary livelihood option through beekeeping. He earns about Rs one lakh annually just through honey production. Another farmer, Medappa Gowda from Madikeri, a hill station town...

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