Honey bees, we all are scared of their sting. Aren’t we? But do we know what an incredible gift it gives to the mankind? Honey, that’s right. Despite its numerous and beneficial uses, honey is still underestimated. The state of Punjab brings us a lot of honey as it tops the production of honey for commercial purposes for our country. Isn’t it great? With so much of variety seen in everything be it language, religion, customs etc., honey has joined the list too. Believe me, even that little pack of honey that we often see has come so much of effort. Apiculture has grown to a reasonable amount in Punjab. Punjab agricultural university; Ludhiana is the hub and is the place where it all started. A honeybee, colonies and large beds of bee flora, is all you need to flourish and this state has it all. Barring few, beekeepers generally only produce honey in Punjab but soon there will be more high-value products too. Being an agriculture based livelihood, beekeeping requires low inputs however in return it gives high profits.
The involvement and Progress: Apiculture has a marvelous scope in the state of Punjab. More than forty thousand farmers are engaged or are associated with bee-keeping. It has become a very good source of additional income for the farmers of Punjab. Variety like Apis mellifera, the Italian bee species, has helped this state in reaching the top of the list for honey production. Since we all are aware of the conditions of the farmers in our country, bee keeping has helped immensely to earn the daily bread even if they were not able to earn from their main crops. As an example, young entrepreneur Ritu Kapoor Suri who is the director at the Kashmir Apiaries Private Limited, Punjab, has been involved in imparting training to rural women of Punjab to help them getting involved in bee-keeping and become financially independent.
The farmers of Punjab have witnessed a transition from cultivating crops to bee-keeping. One best example is of Simranjeet Singh who has a family history of this unique business. The tradition of bee-keeping has been initiated by his father Gurmail Singh trained in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and his predecessors followed the same throughout their life. Even the female members of the family continued doing even after marriage.
The Bee Way: The bee boxes can be bought (one box costs Rs.4000-5000) which has the capacity to provide a decent return of 1.5 lakh at the end of the year. The boxes are brimmed with bees placed on trays, one box comprises of 10 trays. The bees start procuring honey only when the boxes are placed near the fields surrounded with flowers like mustard, apple, cotton, sunflower, and eucalyptus. Honey produced during different seasons and from different flowers taste different.
Economics: In one flowering season, one single bee box can yield 20-25 kg of honey. Boxes can also be shifted from one place to another for more production of honey. The honey is not only traded within the nation but also exported to a country like the U.S. The most common traded honey is known as Ugani Honey.
The Business: No land is needed, only farmers owning the fields need to be convinced. It is a low-maintenance business which requires the basic training and then handled by unskilled workers. The business has its own challenges. In spite of easy generating of the honey, getting a good rate for the same is the difficult part. Hence it is suggested to directly sell it to the buyer. Bee keepers are now invited to keep boxes as farmers like apple growers realized that bees help in pollination which helps in a better yield of their products. In this case, the bee-keepers are paid to keep their boxes in their fields.
Punjab is making India proud by providing a huge production of honey not just for our own consumption but for export too. I recently observed that a lot of people around me did not know about this great source of income for Punjab. Let us hope that this state tops the list for the entire world soon with the kind of efforts the farmers, the merchants, involved in bee-keeping are putting in.
So, let us do some Balle Balle, for the talented state of Punjab.
Source: Hindustan Times