Farmers urged to take up beekeeping for additional income
Not only the farmers make a sweet dividends but beekeeping also help increase agriculture productivity through pollination. In Amritsar district alone more than two dozen farmers have adopted beekeeping as a source of income in recent past.

AMRITSAR:After successive losses in traditionally grown crops due to various natural calamities, the farmers especially the landless farmers are opting to set up moveable apiaries to supplement their income.

Deputy Director, Horticulture Department, BaajSingh Sandhu informed TOI on Tuesday that they encourage farmers to switch over to apiculture as they were given various facilities including 50 percent subsidy on purchase of wooden beehives , purchase of Italian bee Apis mellifluous and other beekeeping equipment's from government registered companies . Tobegin with a farmer purchases 50 wooden beehives costing Rs 1.50 lakh and an equipment including honey extractors etc for Rs 14000.

"Those who can't afford to invest even the initial investment are provided loans from cooperative sectors which has  encouraged several farmers to be apiarists" he said. On an average one beehive yields around 20 to 25 kilogram honey in a year which was sold at Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kilogram in wholesale.

"We are trying honey procurement through Mark fed that would lead to healthy competition and farmers would get better price of honey" said Baaj Singh. Once an apiarist, the farmers keep moving wooden beehives to various parts of Punjab, Himachal Pardesh, Rajasthan, Delhi etc. for different quality of honey besides keeping in view the flowering season of various crops. Since pollination by bees help increase yield of crops, so the apiarists were also encouraged to place their wooden beehives by various farmers cultivating fruits etc said he. An apiarist Punjab Singh from Ajanal told TOI that he had not done migrations so far but admitted that he had to move out if he has to earn more.

"I wish that government give apiarist free transportation so they could move between states with honey supers for more honey yield". Owner of 80 beehives, Punjab Singh said that their season starts from November and lasts till May

LUDHIANA:The Progressive Beekeepers Association, Punjab, honored progressive beekeep on the occasion of World Honey Bee Day during an event organized at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here. President of the association Simranjeet Singh claimed it was the first time the day was being celebrated in the  country, and around 35 progressive beekeepers under different heads --including trading in breeding, from different parts of the state -- were honoured, along with some senior and experienced beekeepers.

He said the event was important as they tried toapprise the gathered farmers to promote and educate others about beekeeping, asdiversification was the demand of the time. "We all know the condition offarmers now is very bad in the state, and beekeeping is a good alternative, asfarmers can earn more in it, than from cultivating rice and wheat," headded. Kuldeep Singh -- a progressive beekeeper from Sangrur, who was honouredduring the event -- said beekeeping had given them tremendous results in thepast, making them stand apart from other farmers, who were in dire straits dueto traditional farming. Further, he said farmers were not being asked toreplace their crops completely, but to take up beekeeping as a side business,which would help them become financially stable.

Meanwhile, minister for agriculture Tota Singh-- who was honoured as the chief guest on the occasion -- said the stategovernment had decided not to charge Value Added Tax (VAT) on material used inbee farming. Tota Singh said a minimum sale price (MSP) had also been fixed forpurchase of honey from farmers. State director of horticulture Gurkamal Singhsaid 15,000 metric tonnes of honey was produced in the state in a year, whichis 20 per cent of the total honey produced in India, while the total export ofhoney from Punjab is 13,000 metric tonnes, which is 39 per cent of the totalhoney exports from the country.

3. Beekeeping - Adding Honey Supers