Wednesday 27 September 2023

Social bees V/S Solitary bees: Indian context


 

The Indian Perspective on Bee Conservation:How different is from the western world's articles on social bees v/s solitary bees.

Bees play a vital role in maintaining ecosystems and ensuring food security around the world. In recent years, the conservation of bees has gained significant attention due to their declining populations. While bee conservation efforts are often discussed in a global context, it is essential to understand the unique Indian perspective on bee conservation, particularly focusing on indigenous social bees that distinguish India from the Western world. Many articles written from the western countries saying that saving honey bees is not a bee conservation at all. It might be true for countries like USA since there are no indigenous social bees in the country. Apis mellifera colonies were imported from Europe and are imported every year from Australia as well.These articles are wrongly interpreted by readers of India who are unaware of indigenous social bees existing in our ecosystems.


Biodiversity and Bee Diversity in India

India is a land of rich biodiversity, housing a diverse range of ecosystems, from the Himalayan mountains to the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. This incredible biodiversity extends to the world of bees as well. India is home to over 719 species of bees, including both honeybees and solitary bees.


Unlike Western countries, where the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) is the dominant species for honey production and pollination, India has a more diverse array of social bees. Indigenous social bees such as Apis cerana indica (the Indian honeybee), Apis dorsata (the giant honeybee), and Apis florea (the dwarf honeybee) have played a crucial role in the country's agriculture and culture for centuries.


The Importance of Indigenous Social Bees


Indigenous social bees, especially Apis cerana indica and Apis dorsata, are uniquely adapted to the Indian climate and landscape. These bees have developed specific behaviors and nest-building techniques that make them well-suited to various ecological niches in the country.


1. Apis cerana indica: The Indian honeybee is known for its adaptability to a wide range of climatic conditions, making it a valuable pollinator for a variety of crops, including mangoes, guavas, and mustard. These bees also produce distinct types of honey with potential medicinal properties. Apis cerana can be domesticated in the wooden hives. However, due to its high desertion tendency and swarming characteristics, it requires more skills to sustain the colonies throughout year.


2. Apis dorsata: The giant honeybee, with its enormous open-air nests, is a magnificent sight in the forests of India. These bees play a critical role in pollinating forest plants and trees, contributing to the regeneration of the ecosystem.


Conservation Challenges and Efforts


Despite their ecological importance, indigenous social bees in India face numerous conservation challenges. These challenges include habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization, pesticide use, climate change, and competition with introduced species like the European honeybee.


To address these challenges, various conservation initiatives have been undertaken in India:


1. Habitat Protection: Conservationists are working to protect the natural habitats of indigenous social bees by advocating for the preservation of forests and biodiversity-rich areas.


2. Sustainable Beekeeping Practices: Promoting sustainable beekeeping practices that do not harm native bee populations while providing economic opportunities for local communities.


3. Research and Education: Conducting research to better understand the behavior, biology, and conservation needs of indigenous social bees and educating farmers and beekeepers about their importance.


4. Policy Support: Advocating for policies that prioritize the conservation of indigenous social bees and their habitats.


Conclusion


The conservation of indigenous social bees in India represents a unique perspective in the global effort to protect these essential pollinators. The country's rich biodiversity, coupled with its diverse range of social bee species, highlights the need for region-specific conservation strategies. By valuing and conserving its indigenous social bees, India not only ensures the health of its ecosystems but also maintains cultural traditions deeply intertwined with beekeeping and honey production. Bee conservation in India is not just about protecting a species; it's about safeguarding a way of life and preserving the delicate balance of nature in this biodiverse nation.


Monday 26 June 2023

The healing buzz of nature: Beekeeping

Beekeeping: A therapy for mindfulness 











In a fast-paced and digitally-driven world, finding solace in nature has become a crucial aspect of maintaining mental well-being. One such activity that has gained popularity as a therapeutic pursuit is beekeeping. Beyond its obvious role in honey production and pollination, beekeeping offers a range of therapeutic benefits for both experienced beekeepers and beginners. From reducing stress and anxiety to fostering a sense of purpose and connection with nature, beekeeping has proven to be a rewarding and healing endeavor.


1. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction:


Beekeeping requires a high level of focus and attention to detail, making it an ideal activity for practicing mindfulness. As beekeepers tend to their hives, they immerse themselves in the present moment, carefully observing the bees' behavior, listening to the hum of the hive, and experiencing the unique scents of the apiary. This focused attention helps to redirect the mind away from stressors, promoting relaxation, and reducing anxiety.


The rhythmic and repetitive nature of beekeeping, such as the gentle movements required when inspecting hives or harvesting honey, can induce a meditative state. This allows beekeepers to disconnect from daily pressures, encouraging a sense of calm and inner peace.


2. Connection with Nature:


Beekeeping is an immersive experience that connects individuals with the natural world. Beekeepers learn about the complex and fascinating lives of bees, their societal structures, and their vital role in the ecosystem. By nurturing and caring for bee colonies, beekeepers develop a deep appreciation for the environment and gain a greater understanding of the delicate balance of nature.


Spending time outdoors, tending to hives, and interacting with bees provide a much-needed break from technology and artificial environments. The beauty of nature, the buzzing of bees, and the aromatic scents of flowers create a sensory-rich experience that fosters a profound connection with the natural world.


3. Sense of Purpose and Accomplishment:


Beekeeping offers a sense of purpose and accomplishment, as beekeepers contribute to the well-being of their colonies and play a role in preserving honeybee populations. Through careful hive management and the provision of a suitable environment, beekeepers help to ensure the survival of these important pollinators.


Witnessing the growth and development of a colony, the production of honey, and the successful overwintering of bees provide a sense of achievement. Beekeepers often describe the gratification that comes from harvesting their own honey, wax, or other hive products, knowing that they played an active part in their creation.


4. Community and Social Interaction:


Beekeeping has a strong community aspect, with beekeepers often coming together to share knowledge, exchange experiences, and support one another. Beekeeping associations, local clubs, and online forums provide platforms for collaboration and learning, fostering a sense of camaraderie among bee enthusiasts.


Engaging in beekeeping can also create opportunities for educational outreach and involvement in local initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of bees. This social aspect enhances the therapeutic benefits of beekeeping by creating a network of like-minded individuals passionate about the environment and bee conservation.



Beekeeping is far more than just a hobby or a means of honey production; it is a therapeutic activity that offers numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The practice of beekeeping promotes mindfulness, reduces stress, and connects individuals with the wonders of the natural world. Beekeepers find solace in the rhythmic and meditative nature of the activity, cultivating a sense of purpose and accomplishment as they contribute to the well-being of their bee colonies and the environment. As more people seek ways to reconnect with nature and improve their mental well-being, beekeeping stands out as a rewarding and healing pursuit that harmonizes the human spirit with the nature.

-Apoorva BV

Chairman

The HIVE

Friday 16 June 2023

Governments and bureaucracy missing opportunities to work with passionate individuals

 Government's Missed Opportunities: Ignoring Passionate Individuals and Sustainable Solutions




After working 14 years with the governments and their respective bureaucracy, i found official's hesitation ,apprehension and inhibition to work with passionate individuals. I also noticed that the whole vision will be missing and many times schemes will be implemented in a very unscientific as well as unsustainable ways.

I found few officials understanding the whole but inability to take the stand and contribute. And many times, bureaucracy will make rules and guidelines which could be design only to fail or stuck in their own tangles. 

Governments play a vital role in addressing societal challenges and shaping the future. However, in their pursuit of implementing policies and regulations, they often overlook the immense potential of passionate individuals who possess innovative and sustainable solutions. By failing to engage and collaborate with these individuals, governments miss out on valuable opportunities to foster positive change, hinder progress, and limit their ability to tackle complex issues effectively. In this article, we will explore how governments lose opportunities by not working with passionate individuals who can bring sustainable solutions.


1. Ignoring Innovation and Creativity


Passionate individuals often possess a drive and determination to find innovative and creative solutions to pressing problems. These individuals invest significant time, resources, and expertise in developing sustainable approaches that can revolutionize various sectors. Unfortunately, governments frequently overlook these individuals and their ideas, leading to a significant loss of potential progress. By not engaging with passionate individuals, governments fail to tap into a wellspring of creativity, hindering their ability to address societal challenges efficiently.


2. Limited Access to Expertise


Governments have vast resources and expertise at their disposal, but they cannot possess all the knowledge required to tackle every issue comprehensively. Passionate individuals, on the other hand, often possess specialized knowledge and insights in their respective fields. By not collaborating with these individuals, governments deprive themselves of valuable expertise and a deeper understanding of complex problems. This lack of collaboration can result in ineffective policies and strategies that fall short of achieving sustainable outcomes.


3. Missed Opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships


Passionate individuals often emerge from the private sector, armed with a deep understanding of market dynamics, emerging technologies, and sustainable practices. By not harnessing the potential of these individuals, governments miss out on forming fruitful public-private partnerships. Collaborations between the public and private sectors can unlock significant resources, facilitate knowledge exchange, and accelerate the implementation of sustainable solutions. By failing to work with passionate individuals, governments not only limit their access to private sector expertise but also restrict their ability to leverage combined resources for the greater good.


4. Stifling Social Innovation


Passionate individuals are often at the forefront of social innovation, devising new ways to address pressing social and environmental challenges. They are driven by a desire to make a positive impact and create a more sustainable future. By neglecting to collaborate with these individuals, governments stifle the growth of social innovation, missing out on groundbreaking solutions that can benefit communities, economies, and the environment. By engaging with passionate individuals, governments can foster an ecosystem that nurtures and rewards social innovation, leading to more sustainable outcomes.


5. Lack of Public Trust and Engagement


Governments that exclude passionate individuals from decision-making processes risk alienating the public and undermining trust in their institutions. By not involving individuals who are deeply invested in finding sustainable solutions, governments send a message that public input is not valued. This exclusion can lead to decreased citizen engagement, reduced transparency, and ultimately, hinder the overall effectiveness of policies and programs. Engaging with passionate individuals allows governments to tap into the collective wisdom of the public, fostering trust, and enhancing the legitimacy of decision-making processes.


Conclusion


Governments have a responsibility to address complex challenges and secure a sustainable future for their citizens. By overlooking passionate individuals and their sustainable solutions, governments squander valuable opportunities for progress and hinder their ability to effect meaningful change. Engaging with these individuals brings about fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and expertise that can catalyze societal transformation. Governments must recognize the immense value of collaboration and actively seek to work with passionate individuals to harness their collective potential and create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

-Apoorva BV

Chairman,

The hive

www.thehivetrust.org

Saturday 2 May 2020

Migrant workers and reverse migration -Apoorva BV

A concern over migrant workers and their reverse migration

Government finally got to know about how an unorganized sector can give a lot of pain in this situation. No one ever thought about it. And very unfortunately there are no perfect or immediate solution. All the surveys,census and data from the government are not precisely done. Not an easy task though.

In every budget, we get to see schemes,subsidies to rural development and creating opportunities. In spite of ever increasing subsidies, we were never able to stall rural to urban migration. It is not only about opportunities which are attracting people to migrate, there is a societal peer pressure.

We never thought that the reverse migration would happen this way. There are so many changes to be seen in rural economy when people go back to villages after the lockdown. All may not come back to cities. Chances of leaving women and children back at home. Chances of increase in property disputes and surge of rural unemployment. We will have to face many other issues.

A country of startups with respective humble backgrounds are totally capable of taking up with these indigenous challenges. We have passion,talent and spirit to work tirelessly. However, since government have their own rule books to only handle and manage few days in their respective service periods, they always channelise through subsidy and tender process. They end up in joining hands with contractors who are ready for corruption. And bankers lend loans to only companies which make good turnover and nothing else. This is a never ending loop. Until and unless government develops their ability to identify social entrepreneurs as their partners for holistic development, there is no way to reach the needy. 

Pushing conventional farming methods to lands with degradation of soil and poor irrigation are the main challenge we will face if few percentage of people turn to agriculture. 

Now, if you consider any type and standard of education, it will migrate people to vibrant cities. It could be from  Bangalore to San Francisco or from Saharanpur to Mumbai all are migrations. One job can give only livelihood another will give financial development. Do we need to find a way so that education should not make everyone to move?

Can our agricultural economists finally talk about demand and supply for farmers's production? Can we even think of organising a planned production with FPOs and Co-ops along with a robust supply chain? Can we activate women self help groups to some of economically viable activities rather than just lending loans for just expenses?

Food processing, selling of home cooked snacks, value addition and art products are the way to go. Can we re-think on activities such as beekeeping which can give  sustainability to ecology by contributing more indigenous forest cover and rural employment. A problem is an opportunity too.

-Apoorva BV


Thursday 11 April 2019

Bee-human conflict in urban India



A call to save bees in urban habitat



The moment you see a big beehive at your balcony, it is natural to get scared and continue panicking till you get rid off it. Before you resort to kill them, here are the few facts to realize and a step closer to save them from your fear factor.I have tried to answer FAQs to few of the bee-human conflict calls since 4 years! 


What kind/species of bees are they?
Scientific name of these bees are 'Apis Dorsata'.In common name 'Rock bees' they are also called as 'Asiatic giant bees'. They mainly are found in Asia. They can forage their food for floral sources up to 9km radius from the reference of their hive.

Why do they prefer balconies and beams for nesting?
Rock bees prefer nesting in the tall structures which must be very firm/stable and which should not be swinging to the wind. Their preference in natural conditions are big rocky mountains, tall trees which are very firm like silk cotton trees, Raintrees and banyan trees. Since we have cut down all matured trees for developing urban infrastructure, they have no other nesting sites. So, they are nesting on all tall apartment buildings which are tall,stable and provide perfect canopy in balconies.For all apartment residents, this conflict will be in a package!

Why do they come every year?
Rock bees or any other social bees are migratory in nature. They migrate to new places in search of ideal nesting site not only for structure but also for food which are flowers. They collect pollen and nectar to continue their cycles in their colony. Since flowering trees and plants of your city blooms every year, they will come to pollinate them and have their breeding in the floral abundant season.And please remember, most of the hives leave in the monsoon season towards plains since they can forage on agricultural floral fields. So, this conflict will cease to continue every year. Let us be calm and understand more about the conflict.

Are they dangerous?  
Rock bee colonies are big and they will attack if they are provoked. And unfortunately, provocation will come from human side. We have read news about bee attacks in rural india generally in burial grounds,temples,dams and tourist places. However, we have never heard about bee attacks in apartment buildings.Because when a swarm settles down in a possible nesting site, bees will initially observe movements around the hive. Bees will recognise threats around the hive and that is why they do not attack just by seeing the people. Whereas the news about bee attacks are also true. In most of the places, people have provoked them by pelting the stone or from smoke of cigarettes,agarbatthi and  smells like perfume etc., But bees which have come to urban areas, will not react to most of it. The final point is that bees will attack if you hit them or provoke them in front of their nest. Otherwise they will mind their own busy business.
Always keep a strong anti-hystamine(epinephrine) in the first aid kit of your society/community. Train few volunteers to use it(shot). Only for people who are allergic to venom.
How important are they? 
If these bees can forage up to 9km radius, think about the area of pollination services these bees do. There are 20,000 bee species in the world. Most of them are solitary bees and very few are social bees. Rock bees are the major pollinators of Asia. These bees are responsible for the food security of our country by helping all agrarian communities through pollination. It is said to be 80% of food crops are pollinated by honey bees since they will not stop working if their stomach is full. They will work,fight and die for the colony unlike humans who have been always living with only the way of self interests.Not only about food from agriculture, these bees are also responsible for balancing bio-diversity so that all micro as well as macro ecosystem can have its food chain intact. Pollination of forest flora will produce food for all animals,birds and insects. Now, do you know what you are killing?

Why are they so big and how a beehive functions?
A bee colony will consist of worker bees, drone bees(male) and a Queen. Worker bees cover 90% of population and are responsible for almost everything in the colony. From taking care of young larvae once in three minutes feeding, cleaning the hexogonal cells,taking care of queen,guarding the hive from predators or robbers to foraging for pollen,nectar and water. And there will be only one queen bee for even a very big colony of 60,000 worker bees. Queen is the only fertile female who can lay eggs up to 1000 eggs per day and the increase and decrease of egg laying by the queen will controlled by worker bees.Worker bees calculate inventory, food in flow and number of nursing bees then communicates queen to lay manageable number of eggs. So, when you zero in for killing, remember that you are killing the most sustainable system and a family with young larvae,nursing bees and a queen.

Can we put them in box and rear them like we see in YouTube videos?
Rock bees' behaviour and temperament is way away from domestication. In india, we can rear/domesticate 'Apis cerana Indica' which are found in cavities and can be transferred to beehive boxes. But we can not domesticate Rock bees. Even if you forcible put them (highly risky and must be handled only be professionals), they will leave. Most of the YouTube videos are from west and in west, they have another domesticable species called Apis mellifera and they do not have Rock bees.

Why do they come to home in the night when i switch on electric lamps?
Rock bees are one of the rare species which can work during night also. They are found active foraging during full moon nights and their cycles naturally set as per the movement of moon as well. Now, we have glass panes and artificial lights everywhere. They will loose their orientation and tend to go towards light. They will get exhausted by hovering all night and die. Put blackout curtains and close ducts and gaps if any in your slider doors by small perforated cloth mesh. Switch off light if not required. And you can use red lamps. They can not see the red coloured lamps.

Then how can we co-exist? any mitigation methods?
You can choose to co-exist and leave them bee. If they build nest to very close proximity where you have to access those space like balconies and windows. Please hook some clothes/net to the ceiling which should flutter to the wind in order to make it unstable for nesting. Soon after they leave, scrape out their wax remaining and apply pungent liquids like turpentine/thinner/diesel/kerosene so that the nesting pheromones will wear off. If they are nesting in a beam which can not be accessed by anyone, please always choose to leave them.

 Let your children know about bees and their world. Develop compassion to children about tiny insects like bees. Because after few years, they should not call pest control companies after seeing the beehive in their balconies.

Please mail us in case of bee-human conflict -  thehivetrust@gmail.com

Don't forget to visit  www.honeyday.in to buy pure raw honey direct from bee farmers whom we have trained and supported.A part of income will be utilised for educating people on bee-human conflicts and developing skills to tribal/rural communities in beekeeping. 



 

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Bee Sustainable

Had an opportunity to address about significance of bees to our food and bio-diversity. Sharing my first TEDx talk held at Indus business academy on December 13th 2017.




Like our facebook page www.facebook.com/thehivetrust for more updates about our work towards conserving bees and beekeeping practices.

Sunday 7 January 2018

Beekeeping initiative at Dantewada,Chattisgarh

After the last visit, we have sent 50 Apis cerana colonies with boxes to Dantewada on November 9th 2017.This logistics of Apis cerana colonies is a longest distance(1380km) ever recorded in Cerana beekeeping industry which took 3 nights and 5 days to reach Dantewada from Bangalore. Now, since all the required livestock and equipment reached the place, we need to develop skills to the community. Along with our local partner Pragati prayas samajik seva sanstha(PPSSS),Dantewada lead by Mr.Ram Narendra, we organised 10 days of intense training program to more than 80 tribal families. The days which I spent there created a life time memory since I got to travel to the most remote villages of Dantewada. Witnessed their rich culture and saw real innocence.

For few moments, I got to see their world. Being a social entrepreneur, I am really proud to say that I really have worked with the true grassroots of India. Until and unless you see the world of grassroots, you can’t really think or get close to the possible solution. The content life of the tribal way keeps you so confused throughout the travel. Questions which linger in your mind about rights and wrongs will make you to reason the very core purpose of many modern concepts of development.

Beekeeping is all about skills to identify the changes inside the hive. Now, if we transfer technology and develop skills, the tribal communities can innovate the way of doing beekeeping by getting hives and equipment done with the local resources. The developed skill will be converted to work, engagement and values. This is the real contribution that we have to impart for the grassroots.    




An orientation talk to the farmers of Karli,Dantewada.With Rama narendra


An orientation meeting with women SHGs of Nerli and Kameli,Dantewada


Fermentation of mahua flowers




Rosella – they call it khatti bhaji which makes delicious chutney in bowl made of palaash leaves



Training at PPSSS,Chitalanka,Dantewada









Training to women SHGs and tribal families at Faraspal



We randomly stopped at keshapur,Dantewada a very remote village. We found few kids playing and called them to give a bee-talk.Explained them about how cerana bees can be transferred to the box for rearing.




We divided the colony and gave it to a participant. Their family got really excited about the new hive. 



On 30th December, a Manager of NABARD from Jagadalpur Mr.Jena  came to the event and expressed NABARD’s support for the Beekeeping project at Dantewada.



No words for the support from district administration lead by Mr.Saurabh Kumar,Collector of Dantewada who came to the launch event and addressed tribal families to take up beekeeping in community level.I would like to thank Mr.Kritesh Hirvani,Principal of Livelihood college,Dantewada. A classic example of how an efficient and dynamic bureaucracy can make things to move faster. We are reaching 100 tribal families to develop skills and supply bee colonies with equipment at Dantewada.In addition to this initiative, we will work with SHGs of Bijapur and Sukma districts covering at least 500 tribal families as directed by NABARD in about 6 months.

Our effort to create a beekeeping ecosystem is at the right path and pace. We are slowly developing a team of tribal youth at PPSSS,Dantewada. As a passionate beekeeper, it so heart warming to see beekeeping reaching to right community.



Sunday 3 September 2017

Buzzing in the land of Mahua trees -An unforgettable Chattisgarh

Few years ago a writer 'Grace Pundyk' from Australia gifted me her work 'Honey Trail'.A book which narrates her travel across globe explaining history of honey from times of Egyptian civilization to the modern story of retail honey market. I started to relate to the contents of her book when i started my trip to Chattisgarh. A tribal state with 80% of forest cover and mostly Mahua trees.Tribal communities at chattisgarh make traditional 'Mahua wine' from fallen flowers.Along with a friend Ram narendra who runs an NGO 'Pragati prayas sanstha' at Dantewada,Chattisgarh, i had an opportunity to travel one of the deep and interior areas of chattisgarh. I met many tribal youth, government authorities who are putting lot of effort to skill rural communities regarding many aspects including organic farming,tailoring,horticulture and non-violent rock bee honey collection.An interactive time with tribal youth regarding 'Transfer of native Cerana bee colonies to the beehive box' was an eyeopener to the tribal community. I played a video and explained the steps involved in it since rains are pouring in this season.

Though Cerana bees have high absconding nature, it is important to practice with native species so that no ecological imbalance takes place. Skilling tribal communities about 'Hiving'(Transfer colony from natural habitat to the beehive box) will bring in sustainability in the tribal beekeeping model since they can always start by hiving native bees when honey flow starts. Chattisgarh's agricultural practices consumes less pesticides when compared to other farming states which makes more conducive space for beekeeping activity.

All communities and government departments of Chattisgarh are working hard to bring in peace and prosperity through various means. Skill development and creation of opportunities will change the course of the state for sure. All the sacred beliefs,ecology and tribal way of life will be holistically preserved if activities like beekeeping can be introduced in these areas.Finally, beekeeping should reach right places!



On my Honey trail



Beekeeping orientation at Chote tumnar,Dantewada






Found tribal women selling bamboo shoots on the way to Bijapur




Talking to Rock bee honey hunters of Dantewada




Talking to a tribal leader about starting beekeeping at their village 


Nerli,dantewada




Stingless bee colony - Someone had opened up to take honey




  

Social bees V/S Solitary bees: Indian context

  The Indian Perspective on Bee Conservation:How different is from the western world's articles on social bees v/s solitary bees. Bees p...