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You are here: News & Events News from the States Kerala Beekeeping in Kerala

Beekeeping in Kerala

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Pune, February 2, 2010: (source courtesy: APIMONDIA site providing the papers and poster presentations made at the 41st Congress held in September 2009 at Montpellier, France; the website of the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board): Following is the abstract of a paper presented at the 41st Apimondia Congress held in Montpellier, France in September 2009. The material is taken from the Apimondia site, and is edited slightly. This is followed by relevant extracts from the website of the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board related to beekeeping industry.




Status of beekeeping in Kerala, India

K. Prathapan1, S. Devanesan2, K.K. Shailaja, K.S. Premila, O.P. Reji Rani and K.M. Sankarankutty3
1. Director, State Horticulture Mission, Kerala; 2. Professor, Department of Entomology, Kerala Agricultural University, Vellayani and 3. Beekeeping Fieldman, Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board, Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala was a leading honey producer in India till 1990s. Apis cerana indica used for commercial beekeeping had a serious setback due to outbreak of Thai sacbrood (TSB) disease, that wiped out 95 per cent of the bee colonies. This resulted in near decimation of commercial beekeeping in the State.

The All India Co-ordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Honeybees and Pollinators has developed TSB virus-tolerant colonies of A. cerana indica through selective breeding, multiplied and distributed to beekeepers through selected bee colony producers. The AICRP cooperating centre imparted techincal knowledge of modern beekeeping to the farmers, beekeepers, bee colony producers, women self-help groups and unemployed youth through various field-oriented training programmes. Efforts are on to rejuvenate the beekeeping industry through technical guidance to the beekeepers. There are about 600,000 bee colonies in the State. The State Horticulture Mission is implementing various projects under 'Yield enhancement through bee pollination in horticultural crops' through the Kerala Agricultural University, Horticorp and Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board. Training and other mass media programmes are used to create public awareness about the role of honey bees in crop pollination and food safety. These efforts 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. In view of this, large numbers of new farmers are taking up this industry.

Programmes under the Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board (KKVIB)

Beekeeping development and marketing of honey and other bee products are included in the activities of the KKVIB. Following are two schemes being implemented by the Board.

Expert staff of the Board impart training in beekeeping to farmers and other rural people. During the year 2007-2008 the Board decided to conduct 20 training programmes – two each in 10 districts, namely, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Eranakulam, Palakkad, Malappuram, Thrissur, Kozhikkode, and Kannur. Each batch of trainees consists of 10 candidates and runs for a period of 5 days.

Provision of Subsidy For Bee Boxes
In order to attract people to this sector and create employment opportunities, the Board provides bee boxes with or without colonies, at subsidised rates. The boxes should conform to the BSI specifications and should be procured from an approved institution. The grant is to the extent of 50 per cent of the cost of the box, but not exceeding Rs. 600, with or without bee colony. A maximum of 20 boxes will be given to a beneficiary. The boxes are supplied to any government, semi-government institution or a bank. The beneficiaries are required to give an undertaking that they would take care of the bee hives and bees for a minimum period of 3 years. The beekeepers federation or recognized institution and the departmental honey processing centre of the Board will collect the honey produced by the beneficiaries and arrange for its marketing.

Honey processing and promotion of bee keeping industry
To promote beekeeping industry KKVIB started 14 departmental units for honey processing, under the Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Palakkad, and Kozhikode projects. Processed and packed honey is marketed under the brand name of ‘Naruthen’.