They are not afraid of honeybees


There was a time when beekeeping was not considered to be a source of earning in rural Assam of India. People never bothered about beekeeping except for its medicinal proprieties .They were considered nature’s gift which came in and swarmed out at their own will. As there was no use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides some decades ago ,honeybees swarmed in particularly in the season of mustard ,coriander and maize flowering and made their hives in the trees near the mustard cultivation, in ceilings of nearby houses, tables , almirahs ,in the cowsheds and wherever they found it suitable for pollen collection. Some families made holes in logs of timber and hung them around houses .Honeybees were synonymous to honey only .People did not know that honeybees are major pollinators in plants leading to the yielding of fruits , vegetables and crops .The contribution of honeybees towards feeding the rest of the creature including human beings was not known to the common people .The traditional beekeeping and unscientific process of extraction took a big toll to the lives of honeybees leading to their dwindling population .Since there was no system of reinserting the honey combs into the bee boxes after honey extraction ,as it is done in the scientific beekeeping today , it took plenty of time for the honeybees for making new combs and filling it with nectar .Young people burnt the bee hives for pranks .It was followed by another threat to the honeybees in the last two decades of the twentieth century when chemical fertilizer and pesticides started to be used.
With the environmentalists and NGOs being vocal about the importance of honeybees for the survival of human beings as well as other creatures a new attitude developed. As time passed a new approach was taken towards scientific beekeeping when the term sweet revolution was brought to use. Recently, in Assam various Govt. departments and agencies have launched various schemes to popularise beekeeping in the nooks and corners of the state as alternative source or additional source of earning. Many of the project or scheme implementing NGO focus on wild beekeeping namely Apis Cerana available nearby forest areas or villages of Assam in lieu of European honeybees Apis mellifera .Wild beekeeping has been included under Green Skill Development Programme .The most significant outcome of these schemes is the spontaneous participation of rural womenfolk in beekeeping training programmes .It is a noteworthy transformation because beekeeping was a male dominated activity for long and women were reluctant towards it .In many villages like Bishnupur Khamrigaon in Baksa district of Assam all the families have come forward to take up scientific beekeeping with a commercial approach. The knowledge that beekeeping is beneficial for good crop yielding and even the chemical released by honeybees through their stings is beneficial in many diseases in human beings has inspired them to come forward to adopt beekeeping. Many of them have taken beekeeping as their full time and main occupation. A sharp rise in the number of beekeepers has been seen in the last few years with the initiative of Green Environment Task Force, an NGO implementing bee keeping programmes under Khadi and Village Industries Commission and Assam Science,Technology and Environment Council.
Even some agencies have launched school beekeeping programme under which boy and girl students are imparted theoretical and practical training in beekeeping and encouraged to keep bee boxes not only in schools but also at homes. Modern English School in the Indo-Bhutan border areas of Baksa district in Assam is one them .It is very fascinating to see the school children cleaning the bottom board ,cells , feeding them with sugar syrup and even extracting honey without any sense of fear for the honeybees. Many of them have started bee keeping at home. The support of the guardians to school bee keeping programme is quite encouraging. Beekeeping has also been widely taken up in the districts like Kamrup (rural), Lakhimpur and Morigaon in Assam.


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