Today the world is celebrating World Bees Day to raise awareness about the importance of bees which are under a continuous threat from human activity, which includes the introduction of invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change, and monocropping practices. Dr T B Nikam, member National Bee Board, who is actively involved in popularising scientific beekeeping, while speaking to Deshdoot, underlined the importance of “green and sweet revolution” in today’s context.
“Honey bees are an industrious and beneficial insect for achieving green and sweet revolution. Through the green revolution, crop productivity will increase and crop quality will be better, while through the sweet revolution, we will get a honey production. In this way we can get twin benefits — on one hand we can achieve food security while on the other, we get health benefits too,” Dr Nikam who is also the owner of T B Nikam’s Bee Organic Farm (Suprakruti Madhushala) said.
About this year’s theme ‘save the bee’, he said that there are more than 20,000 species of bees all over the world. All these are conserving and protecting biodiversity and enhancing crop productivity. European or Italian bee is one of the highly productive species in the world. From 1 bee hive (box), we get a minimum of 40 kg honey and a maximum of 80 kg per year production.
While from 1 bee hive of Indian hive bee species, we can get a minimum of 5 kg and a maximum of 15 kg honey output annually. Elaborating further he said that though the output is relatively low, its other benefits are very high. It gives pollination benefits which eventually help increase crop productivity. In USA farmers benefit 20 billion dollar annually by keeping 32 lakh bee hives in farm fields. This is huge. 33% of our food grain production is due to honey bees, he stated.
Speaking about potential of beekeeping in Nashik, Dr Nikam said that the activity is very poor in the district due to high consumption of pesticides, commercial crops grand vineyards and lack of awareness. He however cited a big potential for beekeeping in the district if the youth takes initiative. It is one of the best agricultural businesses. Youth can sell honey, can give bee hives to farmers and earn money as farmers use boxes for pollination. There is also a huge potential for bee pollen.
“There is a lot of support from government also. The government gives 75% subsidy for tribal and 50% for non tribal to start beekeeping.
He also spoke about potential of migratory beekeeping which is slowed down due to the lockdown. Under this migratory beekeepers carry beehives (boxes) to some time long distance places where Flora is available to produce honey. The migration of bee keepers from Kashmir to Sundarban in West Bengal is also an example.
This day is also open to other pollinators as well as bees, like bats, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Together these essential animals help keep ecosystems healthy and maintain biodiversity.