bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Coping with India's giant bee

Over 100 people have been trained by the Central Bee Research Institute near Pune in central India to extract honey from nests of the local dorsata wild bee “in a scientific manner” reports the Times of India. No longer need the colony be put at risk because so many bees are killed as part of the traditional extraction process. Instead the honey is extracted by cutting the side portion of the colony comb in such a way that bees are, at worst, scattered for a short period. The one-year training was completed in December 2003, and a honey processing plant opened at Melghat in mid-January.

Apis dorsata, also known as the giant bee (picture), has proved difficult for beekeepers to manage because it doesn't like enclosed hives, it migrates during the season to follow the nectar flows and it is quick to attack. Even though they can produce a large harvest (up to 50kg in a year says Eva Crane), honey collectors of dorsata bees have tended to be very poor and haven't marketed their honey in a way that attracts a good price.


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