Apiculturists make honey while sun shines

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Fr. George at the packing centre for honey harvested by the Keezhillam group of farmers.
| Photo Credit: K.A. Martin

A prolonged no-rain spell has helped most apiculturists in the State make more honey than in recent years, with them claiming that honey yield per colony has gone up about 20% compared to last year. But some farmers are feeling the pinch of the dry spell and believe a few showers are handy to help flowers bloom and prolong the honey harvest period.

Fr. George Varghese Parathuvayalil near Perumbavoor said the honey yield this year is expected to go up to 15 kg a colony compared to the 13.5 kg last year, thanks to the dry spell, which has helped bees collect more raw materials for the colonies. He is accompained by a group of around 300 honey-keepers, who own around 600 colonies, mostly in panchayats along Periyar.

He said the bees are now collecting multi-flower materials, considering that this marks the end of the rubber flowering season. Most of the bee colonies have been placed along the forest border, which facilitates better honey production, he added.

Jonhy T. J., a farmer near Thattekad said that too much heat has adverse effects on the honey bees. The ideal temperature is 35 degrees beyond which the honey bees suffer the impact of overheating. However, the dry spell has helped the increase in yield. A shower or two now will help the forests flower, resulting in larger quantities of honey production, he added.

Honey collection during the current season has been higher, said M.S. Salim in Alattuchira, near Perumbavoor. He said that he kept around 150 colonies in the area, while he had more colonies at Rajakkad in Idukki. While the production is good, a spell of rain can help prolong the honey collection period with fresh flowers springing up in the forests neighbouring the colonies, he added.

Mr. Johnny said while the long dry spell may put bees under stress, the use of pesticides could kill bee colonies. Pesticides used in areas far away from the colonies too could affect the bees as they fly long distances to collect the raw materials from flowers.

Fr. George Varghese said the honey production from stingless bee colonies too has been good. The Keezhillam group of bee-keepers launched their venture in 2022 and established colonies in Poothrikka, Thiruvaniyoor, Mulamthuruthy, Chottanikkara, and Aikaranad. He said the beekeepers expressed they are happy with the yields this season, at a recent honey harvest festival organised by the group.

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