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By Thomas K K Kavumkal, Golden Bee Farm, Kerala
In Kerala and Tamil Nadu so many farmers were seriously affected by the Tsunami. Here in coastal areas we are not rearing bees so the bee colony loss is less, but some beekeeping families became the victims of Tsunami. Our government and non-government organisations are trying their best to rehabilitate those unlucky people.
I am a beekeeper from Kerala and have 500 Apis mellifera colonies. I started beekeeping as a profession in 1985 with Apis cerana indica. In 1990, following a serious attack of Thai sac brood virus disease, my colonies were finished. As an experiment, in 1992 I introduced two Apis mellifera colonies to my farm. With proper management the colonies developed speedily and could be divided into eight. Year by year our colony numbers multiplied. We started beekeeping training programmes, colony supply, bee box and other bee equipment manufacturing, and were satisfied by our own beekeeping development activities. The Governments of Kerala and Karnataka recognised our institution, and in the year 2000 we received the ‘Madhumithra 2000’ award from the Kerala Government for the best beekeeper. Today my wife and I are fully involved in beekeeping activities. Our main activities are training farmers, supplying bee colonies with accessories, collecting honey from farmers and supplying all over India. Every year about 300 tonnes of honey are collected.
This year we migrated our bee colonies to Karnataka State (about 650 km) to sunflower cultivations. From there we got a very good yield of about 30 kg per colony. Their main forage sources are cotton, sunflower, Eucalyptus and neem. The Karnataka farmers welcomed us very warmly. With the presence of our bees their crop production increased to a high level. From June to December, parts of Karnataka are a paradise for bees. In January 2005, we migrated our colonies back to Kerala for the rubber honey flow. February-April is the peak honey flow season in rubber plantations. From rubber trees extra floral secretion of honey is obtained. About 8,000 tonnes of honey are produced from Kerala rubber plantations. A plus point of rubber honey is that there is no chance of pesticides or other harmful contents present. So for ayurvedic medicine, there is a very good demand for rubber honey (Ayurveda is Kerala’s favourite medical wing). Anyhow this year we are also expecting a very good honey collection. Production news will be sent with the next letter.
Bees for Development Journal #75