So far, low-yielding Indian bees used by farmers

As beekeeping does not require huge investment and the beekeepers need not shell out money to feed their bees, this agro-based scientific method of beekeeping and rearing of high-yielding Italian honey bee could be easily adopted by low income group people in different parts of Kanyakumari district.

A.J.A Ranjith Singh, Head of Department of Zoology of Sri Paramakalyani College in Alwarkurichi in Tirunelveli district, who came here to attend a training programme, said that in the district so far commercial beekeepers, household beekeepers and leisure hour beekeepers were using low-yielding Indian bee Apis cerana indica.

On an average, one beehive could give honey worth of 10 to 30 kg per year. \On the other hand a single hive of Italian bee Apis mellifera could yield 150 to 250 kg honey per year. In addition from a single Italian beehive, the beekeeper could collect pollen granules (4 to 6 kg per year with one kg fetching around Rs 2,000), Royal jelly (250 to 300 gm and with each kg fetching around Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 85,000), propolis (a resious mixture used as hive sealant by bees), wax and bee venom of high medicinal value.

Apis mellifera was an excellent agent for cross pollination and it was a bonanza for the district where coconut farms need cross pollination for good yield.

Besides coconut, the horticultural crops like amla and mango were also benefitted through cross pollination.

In spite of all these positive aspects, beekeepers in the district never go for rearing of Italian bees.

When the farmers opted for high yielding cattles and food crops, the people were afraid of rearing Italian bees that would give 200 to 250 per cent high income when compared to Indian bees.

He further said that for a long time beekeepers in South Tamil Nadu believed that honey was the only product got by beekeeping. But the other bee products like royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, beewax and bee venom were more costlier then honey.

So the Department of Science and Technology has taken steps to introduce various technology in the potential bee keeping areas by providing training to the farmers, people and particularly the members of self help groups.