Upama Tamla (Rai)
“Beekeeping is not as easy task, it requires a lot of care before you actually receive the honey”. Somilal Praja, Jyarbang, Kanda, Chitwan
Somilal, a local resident and active farmer of Jyarbang welcomes us one sunny morning of April 2021. His home lies in a beautiful mountainous village in the north part of Chitwan district. The place has no access to vehicles and electricity. It takes three to four hours for locals to walk up to the village and more for occasional travelers. As soon as we take few minutes of rest on his self-carved bench offering a breathtaking view of lower plains of Chitwan, Somilal is eager to show us the two apiaries (bee keeping boxes) that he received from ECCA as livelihood support. With his house being comparatively farther away than most villagers, it takes Somilal double the effort to get access to any facility or need. Despite the difficulty, he is one of the first ones from Kanda to successfully keep bees and harvest honey.
The explanation Somilal provides as he walks us up to one of his apiaries gets interesting by minute. “I have been able to harvest four kg of honey this year- out of the two boxes! I took most of it for my children studying in schools away from home and they enjoyed it very much”, happily shares Somilal. Regarding the frequency of harvest, he reveals his harvesting time; twice a year during Kartik (October/November) and Falgun/Chaitra (February – April).
Somilal further shares about the transition of beekeeping practice in his village. According to him, before introduction of modern apiaries, the villagers previously used traditional muda (log) for the purpose of beekeeping. The advantages of using a modern apiary are many – from easier inspection and higher harvest to possible rearing of queen bee and easier control of swarming. But, persuading the bees to stay is still a huge challenge especially during winter. “Three months ago, queen bee from one of these boxes left or died, so rest of the bees were in the verge of leaving. So, I transferred a frame from the other box and thankfully saved them. I have then harvested one kg from the box within the three months period”.
As Somilal talks about his experience, he undoubtedly strikes us as a persistently hardworking person. “I am planning to transfer bee hives into the new apiaries as well. It can be a little tricky but I am sure I can do it – as I have been following the steps we were taught during our Beekeeping Training conducted last time, which has worked well so far.”
In between our conversation, Somilal offers us little honey he has stored in his house. The honey tastes fresh, creamy and floral; almost striking as the heavenly fluid from flowers of Chiuri (butter tree) itself.
After the brief tasting and appraisal for his hard work, Somilal further talks about the challenges, especially emphasizing the level of care required for beekeeping. “It may look easy but this is a rigorous job. One has to keep looking after it every week or so. If proper care is not provided, the bees will not stay. Additionally, we have to look out for its predators.”
As we begin to wrap up our conversation and move to another village, we ask him about his further plans for beekeeping. To which he readily answers, “Well, currently I am very thankful to ECCA and supporting organizations for the support and training. I am planning to expand current beekeeping, probably in a commercial scale if this goes well!”
(ECCA is thankful to BMZ and action medeor e.V. for their support in this initiative!)