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Sweet success: Punjab tops in honey production

Puneet Pal Singh Gill  |  New Delhi/ Ludhiana 

Punjab has topped the list of states in honey production for commercial purposes.This is according to the constituted by the
Punjab contributes 25 per cent of the total honey produced in the country and its 23,000 beekeepers export nearly 3,000 tonnes of honey annually, worth Rs 15 crore, to countries like the USA, the UK and other countries of Europe, and the Middle East.
This export is part of a total production of approximately 5,500 tonnes produced by 2.5 lakh Italian honeybee colonies. Punjab also exports bee wax.
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, is one of the nine centres in the country where quantitative and qualitative research on beekeeping is being carried out by the department of entomology. This all-India project has a budget of Rs 91.30 lakh.
Entomology department head said on an average, a bee colony produced 25 kg honey annually. "This 20-frame colony has one queen, drones and workers. A farmer markets his honey at Rs 100 per kg "" the retail price,'' he added.
However, honey marketing requires streamlining and government intervention to end exploitation of the beekeepers. Besides due to retail marketing, the farmers are compelled to sell honey at Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kg to NGOs, state agencies like Markfed, local traders, exporters, ayurvedic institutions, beauty parlours and pharmaceutical companies.
According to GS Gatoria and Pardeep K Chhuneja, honey bees and beekeeping can do much better if honeybee diseases and varroa mites, "" honeybee parasites "" which together cause heavy casualties on the honeybees, can be treated.
Together, it is estimated that these two problems are responsible for 25 per cent of deaths in bees.
PAU Center of Excellence in Beekeeping scientists said honey bee colonies mushroomed in those areas where there were mustard, sunflower and cotton fields or eucalyptus plantation and forest cover.
Consequently, the beekeepers in the south-western districts of Punjab would shift their colonies, by July-end, to Rajasthan and beyond or to central Punjab districts like Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur. This migration was influenced by the presence of the above-mentioned crops depending upon the season.
The QRT team comprised RC Sihag, Harvir Singh and NS Bhat along with RK Lakra.

First Published: Tue, July 18 2006. 00:00 IST