Bee keepers to the rescue


Kerala’s bee-keeping fraternity had two constructive issues occur throughout the lockdown. First, honey received highlighted as an immunity booster, serving to gross sales.

Second, a glut in the Palakkad mango market offered Horticorp, the nodal company in bee protecting and improvement in Kerala, luscious mangoes and ample time to experiment.

The outcomes? Honey-dried mango, for starters. “Honey is hygroscopic, it absorbs water. We immersed mango slices in honey and, in a matter of days, the fruit tightened. It was extracted as preserved, and dried. This has no sugar, no preservative and needs no heating,” says agricultural engineer B Sunil, regional supervisor, Bee Keeping Centre, Horticorp, Mavelikkara. Heproduced honey-dried jackfruit final December.

The golden syrup

In Kerala, the cottage business of bee-keeping unofficially produces practically 5 to 10 lakh kilograms of honey yearly and engages farmers, semi-farmers and college students. Rubber and forest honey are the two essential forms of discovered right here. “It is a source of secondary income and we find many youngsters taking to it,” says Sunil, including that the new technology of bee keepers are filled with concepts on popularising the produce.

Anoop Baby Sam

Anoop Baby Sam  

Twenty-eight-year-old Anoop Baby Sam from Chittar took over his father’s 15-year-old bee-keeping enterprise with a want to modernise and make it profitable. He used the lockdown to work on beeswax cream, lotions, lip balm and candles. Using honey as base, he created a spread of drinks like honey ginger, honey garlic, hen’s-eye chilli honey and basil pepper honey. Out of all his lockdown recipes, Anoop, who retails his merchandise below the model Nilackal Bee Garden, is most enthusiastic about his honey peanut butter cookies and honey payasam. “I tried many products during this time, including a carrot honey face pack,” says Anoop, who’s an organiser with the Federation of Indigenous Apiculturists (FIA) and the District Secretary of Patanamthitta Bee Keepers.

Honey peanut fruit jam

Honey peanut fruit jam  

Two issues have been in his favour. One, he lives close to a forest that gives him with a “bee-keeping ecosystem.” Second, it doesn’t require full-time engagement and may very well be pursued alongside along with his job. “There are many bee species in Kerala, of which solely 5 retailer honey and solely three are good for farming: stingless, Apis cerana indica and Italian bees,” says Anoop, who makes use of social media to retail his merchandise and posts movies about bee protecting.

Biju Joseph, a breeder from Pala in Kottayam district, is fortunate as all his 80 websites, with over 1,000 colonies, are shut to his house. He may harvest the honey regardless of the lockdown; the rubber dealer breeds Apis cerana indica and provides it to farmers throughout Kerala. “In bee keeping, there is seasonal management. I retail a colony (a box with six frames) for ₹1,000. There’s no age limit and there’s no requirement of land. It can be done on rented sites,” says Biju, who produces 6,000 kilos of honey each season.

The lockdown has additionally had a damaging impact: it prevented migratory bee keepers from harvesting honey from colonies in numerous elements of the State. Aleyamma Siby from Panathady Panchayat, Kasaragod district, was unable to journey throughout the border into Coorg, Karnataka, the place just a few colonies would have produced one in all the nation’s most interesting honeys.

A Horticorp-recognised bee dealer, Aleyamma has been promoting honey and associated merchandise akin to jams, fruit-infused honey and beeswax, below her label Matha Honey and Bee Farm Industries. She additionally provides bee colonies. While rubber bushes are the essential supply of nectar in Kerala, in Coorg, she locations her hives in the forest. She rears Italian bees, which feed on sunflower honey from close by sunflower farms in Karnataka.

Aleyamma Siby

Aleyamma Siby

The typical season in Kerala is from January to March, and begins in Karnataka as this comes to an finish. In the final season, from over 3,000 colonies, Aleyamma harvested about 25 tonnes of honey. Being a migratory bee keeper, she relocates some colonies to Karnataka to reap the benefits of the season. Aleyamma says the Coorg honey, which she sells for about ₹400 a litre, has a novel aroma and is scrumptious. “If the honey chambers are left unattended, production will go down,” she worries.

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