Climate Change

Not so sweet: Honey production falls 40% in Bihar

Researchers have attributed the fall to erratic weather conditions in the state 

By C K Manoj
Published: Thursday 12 March 2020
Honeycomb. Source: pixabay

Erratic climate conditions have adversely affected Bihar's ‘Sweet Revolution’ — a move aimed at increasing honey production in the state.

Bihar has rich flora and ecological conditions favourable for beekeeping. 

However, honey production in the state fell by 40 per cent in 2020, according to a report in a Hindi daily.

“Honey bees are unable to collect enough nectar from plants and trees — such as mustard, drumsticks and litchis. This is because nectar generation fell sharply due to abnormal temperatures,” the report quoted researchers at Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour, as saying.

“The bees are surviving on nectar but are unable to store them in their hives. This is because of erratic weather conditions,” the newspaper report stated.

Mustard flowers grow between January and March, but are producing less nectar this year.

A senior researcher from the university confirmed the development.

“A box full of Italian bees are producing at most 2-4 kilogram, way below 10 kg earlier,” the researcher, who did not wish to be named, said.

According to him, litchi flowers, too, are producing less nectar this year. “The honey boxes placed on litchi plants 10 days ago are completely empty. We are disappointed,” he said.

The researcher said the difference between day and night temperature has gone to 14 to 15 degree Celsius; it was 7-8 degree Celsius earlier. According to him, the gradient is the reason behind the trend.

“We did not experience fluctuating weather conditions in the last 15 years. As of now, the bees are collecting nectar just enough for their own survival,” the researcher said.

According to the latest National Bee Board report, India has a total of 9,580 registered bee-keepers with 1,412,659 bee colonies. Of them, Bihar has 859 registered bee keepers. However, the real number is stated to be much higher, the researcher said.

According to a report of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Bihar, there are around 9,000 beekeepers in Bihar. The state ranks 11 in honey production in the country.

According to a report by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India exported 61,333.88 tonnes of natural honey worth Rs 732.16 crore in 2018-19. The major export destinations were the United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arab, Morocco and Qatar.

Agriculture university officials said the tradition of beekeeping is old. However, it suffered its first blow in 1980s, after it was impacted by Thai sacbrood virus (TSBV).

The disease resulted in the destruction of more than 90 per cent of bee colonies in South India, causing a drastic drop in honey production.

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