Many tend to give up on their passion when it is financially non-viable. Yet, some fight against all odds and carve a career out of it. Apoorva BV, hailing from Chitradurga, is one such man who followed his passion and became a bee keeper. “When I took to bee keeping 10 years ago, no one in the surroundings I lived in thought I could make a living out of it. They would ridicule, discourage and even mock me. My well-wishers too advised me not to get into agriculture or its allied fields, given the crisis of the farm sector today,” recalls the 34-year old apiarist of his initial days.
Despite being motivated, skilled and confident about his vocation and taking the required measures, things did not go as planned. Everything was failing initially, “Doubts did arise and I spent quite a few sleepless nights as a result,” he admits.
Today, Apoorva not only harvests honey from farms and forests across the State, but also sells them through Honeyday Bee Farms , a company he jointly runs with his partner Guruprasad Rao. He also conducts workshops and training sessions with farmers and urban gardeners who wish to keep bee boxes by their flower gardens through his charitable trust — The Hive.
Enamoured by the work ethics, philosophy and contribution of bees to the environment, Apoorva does not miss a chance to spread a word about the bees and their much needed role today in addressing environmental and food crisis. Every Sunday, he is off to IT dominated areas of Bengaluru to sensitise urban folks about rock bees that nest in balconies of high-rise apartments. He creates awareness against violent methods of bee-hive removal and provides them with tips to co-exist with wild bees which are the prime pollinators of agricultural crops in Asia.
The bee enthusiast has travelled extensively throughout the country to understand the migratory patterns of North Indian bee-keepers, who rear Italian bees unlike their Southern counterparts who employ native species. Apoorva has also worked in tribal regions of Chattisgarh to transform traditional bee hunters into bee-keepers. He feels, “as they are familiar with bees and comfortable handling them, turning them into custodians of bees was not only income generating for them but also ecologically appropriate.”
“I was initiated into bee-keeping by Shantaveeraiah, a 78-year-old master bee-keeper during my engineering days. I was mesmerised by him and the work he did — bee rearing in wooden boxes. I would often visit him at Metikurke, Hiriyur to learn all about this craft. It was while interacting with him that I discovered the gaps that exist in this specialised area and realised the consequences of not addressing them,” says Apoorva.
“Being a social entrepreneur is challenging, especially when one does not want to compromise on quality and ethics. Sustaining the venture by selling only the prime agricultural product, in our case, honey, was difficult as there are a number of unauthentic brands in the market. Therefore, we looked for other bee-keeping related works to keep our ship sailing, such as manufacture of bee boxes, bee culture etc.,” he explains.
The dedicated bee-keeper currently splits his time between Bengaluru and the flood affected areas of Coorg where he is encouraging farmers who have lost their lands to give bee-keeping a shot.
(This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track)