SRINAGAR: The promising entrepreneurship of honey beekeeping for producing honey is now emerging as a pollination service provider, with local apiarist now reaching to Gujarat region in Western India renting bee colonies that helps farmers to enhance their crop produce.
Arshid Ahmad Mir, a young bee keeper from Hadoora area in Srinagar suburbs, has been breeding and renting bees colonies to many states earlier, now the new destination for Mir and others like him is Gujarat.
“The Indian farmers have been gainfully using bees to enhance the produce of their crops,” Mir said.
Mir added: “From the past few years Gujarat has become a new destination, where we venture in winters to provide our services.”
Mir said that this year more than 8000 bee colonies from Kashmir had been rented to different farmers in Gujarat to enhance their produce mostly in crops like fennel and mustard.
A colony, at the height of summer, comprises one queen, 200 to 300 drones (males), which mate with the queen and die and 20,000 to 50,000 worker bees. The lifespan for a queen is two to five years but most productive during the first two years. A worker bee has a lifespan of 45 days and a drone of two to three months.
Naseer Ahmad, one of the partners of Mir, said that Kashmir bee keepers since long have been moving to Northern Indian states in winter to save their bees from the extensive cold in winters with Jammu and Punjab region being long favorite destination for them.
The bee keepers said that presently reared specie in Valley is the Italian bee called Apis millifera that cannot survive Kashmir winters and one of the options beekeepers have is to move to Northern Indian plains during winters.
Naseer said that the other option is to insulate the hives and provide sufficient sugar for the colonies to act as food, though in this practice mortality of bees at times is very high.
The beekeepers said that with scientific development in agriculture in many states outside, many growers perfectly know the benefits of keeping good number of bees in their fields that is the reason why they seek service from pollination service provider who provide them with requisite number hives for their farms.
Naseer said that Kashmir migratory apiarist come handy for this pollination service provider to meet the demand as hives of local beekeepers are mostly engage in their own areas.
“Pollination is a concern for various Indian farmers as it is difficult to maintain pollinator populations, that being the reason why we now have reached to Gujarat region,” he said.
Arshid says that moving colonies to the area is the job of these service providers and there is no hitch in travel to other states, but the travel back on Jammu Srinagar Highway is always tedious as checking authorities stops us at various places and this kills bees as temperatures in hives gets unbearable for them.
Apart from saving the colonies in winters, the services also come with remuneration for these apiarists, fetching some good returns.
On arrival home the apiarists set their hives in various robinia (kikar) growing areas in the Valley.
According to the available data, Jammu and Kashmir has around 8,000 beekeepers and the number is growing with nearly 30,000 bee colonies spread throughout the state. The honey production is more than 600 tonnes.