Honey Bee and Apiculture in Kerala

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In Kerala Bee-keeping is done by farmers as a source of additional income.Rubber planters place beehives in rubber plantations and gain a good return from it without any risk.To promote bee keepers and to bring pure trustable honey in the market, Kerala Kerala Khadi and Villages Industries Board introduced a honey with brand name ‘Naruten’ in the market.Ayurveda Industry is the major consumer of pure honey.

Honey Bees live in a well organised colony that does not need to hibernate.From the nectar of flowers they produce honey and store it in wax comb and use the same hive from one year to the next.Actually they store honey in the honeycomb as a food source for the colony.

There are four species of honeybees in India. They are Rock bee (Apis dorsata),Little bee (Apis florea),Indian bee (Apis cerana indica),European bee (Apis mellifera) and Stingless bee (Trigona iridipennis) .Apis Cerana is the most preferred species in Kerala by bee farmers as it produces 7kg to 10kg of honey on an average.

Honeybees help pollinating process in flowers and plants, a vital process that sustains vegetation.Apple, cardamom, cashew, mango, litchi, guava, rubber, mustard,vegetables and coconut are the major crops pollinated by honeybees .In a colony of an average size,there would be about 20,000 to 31,000 bees comprising a queen and a few hundred drones. But 90 per cent of the population is made up of the workers.Indian bee yields 8-10 kg of honey per colony per year.

In Kerala beecombs fill up in January-April season and honey is extracted and sent for processing.

Honey is extracted only from super combs using honey extractor. The sealing of cells on combs is removed with sharp knife before placing in the extractor. Extracted honey is filtered through muslin cloth.Then Honey is heated to remove wax particles, debris, dust and pollen.Then it is filered and cooled and stored in glass or eathenware container.

Kerala had immense potential for beekeeping, with eight lakh colonies.1 to 1.25 lakh people are engaged in apiculture,mostly as an allied activity. A single hive can yield four to five kg of honey.During 1998-99 honey worth Rs 2.65 crore produced in Kerala .

A HoneyBee Research & Training Centre was established at Vellayani with ICAR assistance in 1994.Training classes are conducted in beekeeping by Kerala Agriculture University .In 2001 Kerala Agricultural University conducted a National Honey Fest .Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Khadi and Village Industries Commission is also promoting apiculture or bee-keeping.Kerala state Horticulture mission is implementing various projects under yield enhacement through bee pollination in horticultural crops through Kerala Agricultural university,Horticorp and Khadi board.The advanced technologies developed by the Kerala University on Honey bee management imparted to bee-keepers helped to enhance the average yield of honey from 2-3 Kg to 20-25 Kg per colony making the industry a profitable one in Kerala. Hence large numbers of new farmers are taking up the industry. The concerted efforts of all those who involved in the industry helped to provide employment potential to the unemployed rural youth and women and thus explored the potential of beekeeping in the State and for the sweet come back.A sustained effort in that direction could increase the number of colonies to 55 lakh in the near future and the income generated could be increased manifold.

Honey is very good for eyes and eye sight,it heals wounds,reduces effects of poison.Honey is an essential ingredient to administer many ayurvedic, unani, homoeopathic and indigenous tribal medicine.

There are some study reports which suggests electromagnetic radiation from the mobile towers and cell phones cripple the navigational skills of worker bees and which lead to destruction of beehives.

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