Beekeeping’s diverse benefits dawn on 33,000 Punjab farmers
Indian Express, 2/21/2014
Beekeeping has come to mean more than producing honey in Punjab, the country’s largest producer in any case. Some 33,000 beekeepers have diversified into allied products such as royal jelly, bee venom and beeswax, besides breeding queen bees and renting bee colonies for pollination of crops. And these have been fetching them returns several times what honey does, they say…
“If we can earn Rs 2,000 per year per box from honey, we can earn lakhs per box per year from queen bees and royal jelly,” says Chandhi. For honey producers, the government has asked its horticulture department to add a 25 per cent subsidy to the 50 per cent given under the National Horticulture Mission. But Chandhi says, “We need imported equipment which is costly. The government should subsidise imports too.”
“The Beekeeping Board estimates that the present four lakh bee colonies can be increased to 10 lakh. Punjab has a potential for other valuable hive products including 780 tonnes beeswax, 270 tonnes propolis, 40 tonnes royal jelly and 45 kg bee venom,” says horticulture director Dr Lajwinder Singh.
“Except a few, beekeepers produce only honey in Punjab but now we are training them on high-value products,” says Dr Chaman Lal Vashisht, beekeeping expert and coordinator of the board.
Royal jelly is used in medicine, cosmetics and as a dietary supplement. Its price from country to country varies from Rs 4,000 to 5,000 a kg, and Rs 1.5 lakh to 1.8 lakh if processed or frozen. Half a kilo royal jelly can be extracted from a box per year. China and Taiwan are major exporters.