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26 March 2017 | Last updated 04:23 PM
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Meet Pune’s Beekeepers
Beekeeper, Pune, honey bees rehabilitation, Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein honey bees quote, Amit Godse, Srujan Kulkarni, Apis Dorsata, rock bees, blog, Pooja Agarwal
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”- Albert Einstein
It is speculated that the brilliant scientist quoted this in 1940’s. Still today man refuses to take a hint. Beehives around the city, especially those in residential areas are taken out by pest control (rendering the honey bees dead), instead of rehabilitating them. Traditional honey hunters are yet another threat to the already dwindling population of honey bees across the world. Amit Godse and Srujan Kulkarni, honey bee experts, are among those few who are trying to put an end to this mass destruction.
Their team of honey bee experts can move bees from one place to another without hurting them and are also quite adept at extracting honey 2 to 3 times from the same comb without disturbing the bees.
And how do they manage this feat you ask...
Inside a society at Sus Gaon, the experts had been called to relocate 2 bee hives. The first hive was of Apis Dorsata/ rock bees or Agya mashya in Marathi. Out of the 5 species of honey bees, these are the biggest in size. They had managed to create a spectacular hive in the terrace of an apartment in less than a week’s time.
“There are about 50,000 bees in this hive. With there are so many flowers around, this would make a suitable home for the bees. They have Pune as a migratory site, before the construction of this residential complex; there might have been big trees around here where bees used to migrate since million of the years” explains Amit." The entire society was made to shut down all their doors and windows.
To make sure that the bees do not sting them, first they spray natural smoke onto the hive. The smoke fills the lungs of the bees and they start vacating the hive. When the hive is relatively empty, the entire hive is chopped off using a saw tied at the end of a rod. The empty hive falls down, spilling the collected pollen, nectar and honey. Several honey bees accumulate near the fallen hive. “They are consuming all the honey they can. They will need it for the journey. The honey bees will be here until they find a new place. They will find a new place in a few days” says Srujan.
Srujan then applied some petroleum jelly on the saw and started applying it on the roof from whence the hive once suspended. “The slippery roof is so that the bees are not able to construct a hive here again. The worker bees will keep trying to make a temporary cluster here for a while, but they have understood that this place is not safe anymore so now the worker bees will go around in search of finding a new place with suitable surrounding. It will be beyond 5 km radius from here. Once they have found that, then they will come back and alert the queen. The queen along with all the other bees will vacate this entire place in a matter of hours then” says Amit. "Currently we save 75% of bees by this method, but we can save bees up to 98% by relocating even a giant bee hive like this one to a safer place, but that will require a tempo and rappelling kit, which we don't have right now. We are looking for someone who would fund this to us.”
In the same society, another type of bees called Apis florea or Garden bees had created a small hive on one of the trees. These were much smaller in size. “This hive must have around 15,000 bees.”
This time the duo tried a different approach. Srujan climbed on the tree, adjacent to the branch that housed the hive. Smoke is prepared by burning coconut husk and the hive is smoked and sprayed with water alternatively for a while. “The water makes the bees shrivel and compress.” In a swift move, Srujan, chops the branch and places it in a muslin basket. “We have captured the hive now. We can take it anywhere and relocate it. Not a single bee is hurt in the process” states Amit happily.
According to Godse, all over the world, honey bees are facing threat from various factors. In India, they are not safe anywhere. In the urban areas, it is the concrete jungles added with humans who are terrified of them, in farm lands, pesticides and insecticides have a negative effect on them and in forests it is the tribals that destroy their hives for honey and bee wax. This is of serious concern as honey bees are the main source of pollination and 80% of whatever is on our plate comes as a by product of this activity.
Their existence is imperative for our survival. Honey bees are not pests and all activities that threaten them should be immediately stopped.
The duo also possesses the equipment necessary for distinguishing pure honey from impure. “The colour of the honey is determined by the colour of the flower the nectar comes from. Example, litchi flower will produce white honey whereas carom (ajwain) flower gives black honey.”
Experts Amit Godse and Srujan Kulkarni can be contacted for rehabilitation of honey bees @ 9920698778
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed within this blog is personal opinion of the author. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the blog do not reflect the views of Sakal and Sakal does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
The author can be contacted at @PoojaAgarwal92 on Twitter.
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