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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pune-based institute publishes ‘floral calendar’ to aid beekeepers

Scientists said the move is expected to boost overall honey generation and boost the income of farmers and beekeepers.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune | Updated: March 4, 2020 9:48:13 pm
Senior scientist and assistant director at CBRTI, Lakshmi Rao, conceptualised the idea of India’s first floral calendar, which was recently published.

The Pune-based Central Bee Research and Training Institute (CBRTI) has launched a floral calendar which provides area-wise and region-wise floral distribution, to help farmers and beekeepers across India to plan their beekeeping cycles at optimal locations.

Scientists said the move is expected to boost overall honey generation and boost the income of farmers and beekeepers.

Senior scientist and assistant director at CBRTI, Lakshmi Rao, conceptualised the idea of India’s first floral calendar, which was recently published and uploaded on the website of Khadi Village and Industries Commission (KVIC), and is available for free to all.

Leading the institute’s apiary training for several years now, Rao said such a calendar was necessary, and that from here on out, it would come in handy for suggesting the best regions for beekeeping.

“This will be like a nature’s guide for farmers, who can now place beehive boxes at favourable locations where there is the season’s best flowering and nectar for the honeybees,” said Rao.

As part of her research, Rao said she had surveyed farms, fields, forests, plantations and estates across the country. By documenting local crops and their flowering patterns, she said she was able to come up with data-based suggestions for the calendar.

The calendar mentions multiple species of honeybees, their favourite flower or plant for both Kharif and rabi seasons for every state in India. Researchers said the massive quantities of data generated from each state made it a challenging task to collate and classify the information based on criteria such as region, season, pulses, vegetables and fruits grown in India.

“The effort is to naturally route the honeybees to feed on their choicest flowers in the most favourable area,” senior researchers said.

In addition to the vagaries of weather, the crops are also affected by diseases and excessive spraying of insecticides and pesticides, which is a growing cause for worry for the flowering and growth of many crops, CBRTI researchers said. During the last season, many beekeepers suffered a huge setback when the honey they manufactured were rejected by international markets, including the US. This was because the mustard crop, on which the bees fed, were found to be sprayed with heavy amounts of pesticide, which rendered the honey produced unfit for consumption.

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