What’s the BUZZ about….!!!

Imtipong Longkumer Asst. Prof., BBA Dept. St. Joseph’s College, Jakhama  

Have you ever wanted a job where you do minimal work, all the hard work will be done on your behalf and still better you get paid in full? Or you need a new hobby that is not only eco friendly, contributes to the beauty of the surroundings but also make some few “BUCKS!!” on the process or in other words “increase your disposable income”, as most economists will say. Well you don’t have look any further than our very own ‘busy-buzzy-stingy’ friend the BEE!!  

“Owning something and having the wits to use it...those are two different things.”

Beekeeping is one such activity which has been a part of our rich traditional history but also has immense prospect as employment generating activity. Most of us, till late have been rearing bees in our back yard for honey for personal consumption, but none would have imagined the commercial prospect of rearing bee. Honey is consumed all round the world, it has universal taste. It is not only delicious but is nutritious and has medicinal properties.  

It is not just the honey which is the product of beekeeping but other useful byproducts as well, like royal jelly, bee wax and propolis. Each of these byproducts has its own uses and has high commercial value. But the true potential can only be realized if it can be done in a large scale. But the good thing about beekeeping (large scale or small scale) is that it does not incur huge investment compared to other agriculture related activities or rather any other activity. Physically also it is not that demanding. Just install the bee boxes at appropriate location and let the bees do the hard work and produce.  

Beekeeping is a practice done almost all over Nagaland and globally, with relatively similar style but there is a unique way of rearing bees found nowhere else in the world but in the village of MIMA, located 8.8 kms from kohima town, it is also known as the ‘Honey Village Of Nagaland’. The unique way of rearing bee in Mima village is underground beekeeping. Beekeeping is an age old traditional practice that is intertwined in the socio-religious rituals of the Nagas. Bees have been revered and used as vital indicators for many natural forces beyond their control by the animistic Naga of yore.  

Bees and the Nagas have had a rather romantic relationship in the past; our forefathers have written songs regarding the bees and also find mention in many folklores, beliefs and rituals. Thus there is no dearth of traditional knowledge on bees, beekeeping and honey hunting amongst the Nagas.  

Beekeeping as a profession has been gaining tremendous momentum in recent times in Nagaland. It is not only because of factors related to economic sustenance alone but also environmental factors such as changing the mindset of the people to minimize Jhumming for apiculture and other eco-friendly agricultural activities.  

Different species of honey bees are found in Nagaland. The common Apis species are:  

  •      Rock bee (Apis dorsata/laboriosa)
  •     The little bee (Apis florae)
  •     Asian Honey bee (Apis cerana)

Some of the few advantages related with beekeeping as an income generating-saving activity:  

  •      Bee keeping requires less time, money and infrastructure investments. “More for less” a sound investment strategy which every investment guru will recommend.
  •     Honey and beeswax can be produced from an area of little agricultural value. “Diamond from the rough” nothing is more satisfying than making something out of what people thought of as ‘nothing’.
  •     The Honey bee does not compete for resources with any other agricultural enterprise. “Monopoly over the resources” a situation where you command not obeys.
  •     Beekeeping has positive ecological consequences. Bees play an important role in the pollination of many flowering plants, thus increasing the yield of certain crops such as sunflower and various fruits.  “Green business” starts a business, save the planet too!!
  •     Honey is a delicious and highly nutritious food. “It’s not JUNK” rather makes you a HUNK.
  •     By the traditional method of honey hunting many wild colonies of bees are destroyed. This can be prevented by raising bees in boxes and producing honey at home. “A vigilante for the voice less”, modern ‘Robin Hood.’
  •     Beekeeping can be initiated by individuals or groups. “Joint venture” two is better than one.
  •     The market potential for honey and wax is high. “It falls under star in the BCG Growth Matrix” BCG is a matrix where your product is studied in terms of its ‘market share and market growth rate’. STAR indicates a highest rating in both the two indicators.

  However on the flipside, Beekeeping in Nagaland is presently characterized by low level technology, limited investment, low productivity, low quality and lack of market initiative. Government of Nagaland has been undertaking wide range of initiatives to diversify the agriculture sector with a view to strengthening the poverty alleviation efforts. To harness the potential of beekeeping and to implement programs and policies aimed at fulfilling the economic, social and environmental objectives through beekeeping and honey development activities in the state, Government of Nagaland has launched the “Nagaland Beekeeping And Honey Mission” during 2007-2008.  

We certainly have the natural resources, we have the wealth of traditional and scientific knowledge at our disposal, we have the necessary skill required and we have the pioneers who showed its possible now all that’s left for us to do is make productive use of it.