Supplements farm revenues by focusing on sale of by-products
“Bee keeping is the money spinning business! I say so because in this business, bee keeper generates income not only from selling honey but also from by-products such as bee pollen, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, venom and of course queens, bees and their larvae. Amongst all these by-products, bee pollen is a power pack of nutrients that is boon for human beings. Presently awareness on the health benefits from bee pollen is negligible in India and so the bee keepers also are unable to tap its potential. Being in this business since 1997 I too was ignorant about bee pollen sales prospects but my Europe tour in 2016 opened new doors of growth and expansion. On my return, I started packing and marketing bee pollen. It has improved my revenues,” reveals Mr. Narpinder Singh Dhaliwal. He manages his family farm, Dhaliwal Honey Farm located at Chuharchak village, Moga district, Punjab. European bee/ Italian bee (Apis mellifera) is reared at the farm. This bee species is less prone to swarming and performs well.
Honey bees gather the pollen of the plants in the basket (corbiculae) present on the tibia of their hind legs. These are called as pollen loads. Bees collect pollen because it is a raw material from which bee bread is produced for the larvae in the hives. The pollen is mixed with a small dose of the secretion from salivary glands or nectar and is placed in pollen loads.
When asked about stealing the food of bees, Mr. Narpinder clarifies, “Worker bee gathers bee pollen for bee larvae in the hive hence we do not collect if fully. We definitely do not want to hamper the abundance of bee population in the boxes for a small gain on bee pollen. Therefore the pollens are collected without disturbing the life of the hive using a pollen trap.”
Pollen trap is placed at the entrance of honey bee boxes in a way that every bee flies through the trap. When the bees fly through the trap, some pollen falls off their legs onto the wire mesh at the bottom of the trap. “It is roughly around one-third of the pollen stored in the pollen load of the bee. The bee pollen is then collected from the pollen trap every day. We do it in a responsible way ensuring the nutritional need of the colony is intact,” he highlights. Bee pollen of mustard and melliferous are sold at Rs. 2000/kg.
Bee pollen collection and sale is relatively new activity of Dhaliwal Honey Farm. Other routine operations are bee rearing, supplying bee colonies and hives to the government agencies, honey production and sale. At the moment Mr. Narpinder is having one thousand bee boxes. To collect superior quality honey he travels to neighbouring states of Punjab, in particular Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir. “We are able to obtain 25-40 kg honey from one colony/box. Sometimes we also get more than 40kg depending on the strength of the bees and quality of flowers. We are producing three variant of honey in particular mustard, litchi and melliferous. Further we have two categories crystallized and non-crystallized. The former is sold to the companies for exports while the later is processed and sold in domestic market under our brand name ‘Dhaliwal Honey’,” he adds. In retail the processed honey is sold at Rs. 300/kg while the bulk sale to the companies is made at Rs. 150/kg. Commonly the honey production and sale season is November-February.
“So far Punjab bee keeping industry has been dominated by honey but we have expanded our production and sales focus on by-products. Bee pollen sale is slowly picking up and now we are upgrading our knowledge on royal jelly and propolis,” he asserts.
Mr. Narpinder insists on taking formal training and experience before starting a commercial apiary unit. “Undoubtedly beekeeping is a promising business but it requires technical expertise for getting the desired success. For example it is essential to safeguard the bee colonies from the attack of mites.
Tracheal Mites traps the wings of bee due to which it cannot fly and crawls in front of the hive, Parasitic Mite Varroa feeds on early stage of lava and prepupa thereby reduces the bee population and lastly Brood Mite (also called as Tropilaelaps clareae) attack the brood and cause larval death, adversely affecting bee populace. Similarly the bee colonies must be given lot of attention and care from any disease attack. It is necessary to ensure good look after of the bees because healthier the bee colonies wealthier is the beekeeper.”
Speaking of challenges he says, “Beekeeping is still looked down as harmful for farming. Secondly forest area is decreasing day by day. Deforestation and reduction in agricultural land is a serious threat to apiculture.”
Apiculture is an intrinsic part of agriculture as it helps in food production directly and indirectly. “In European countries the technology practiced is much advanced as compared to India. If we upgrade ourselves then our country can shine bright in International market as we are rich in man-power and have ability to learn quickly. Further beekeeper must supplement their income through the sale of by-products!” he concludes.
Dhaliwal Honey Farm
Farm Address: Chuharchak village, Tehsil and District Moga, Punjab
Phone: +91 9417423111