Khadi & Village Industries Commission with the inspiration of Rastrapita Mahatma Gandhi took the task of development of the beekeeping Industry with a view to uplift the financial status of people living in extremely interiorrural areas by introducing and popularizing modern beekeeping.
Since time immemorial beekeeping was practiced traditionally in India. Until 1953, the beekeeping in Indian subcontinent was disorganized till this activity was taken over by All India Khadi & Village Industries Board and subsequently by the KVIC in 1957 and establishing Central Bee Research & Training Institute at Pune on 1 st Nov’ 1962.
KVIC established a separate department namely Directorate of Beekeeping in Mumbai and Central Bee Research & training Institute at Pune and started beekeeping in modern and scientific way throughout the country by establishing Filed Observation Stations/Zonal Beekeeping Extension centers now called as State Beekeeping Extension Centers in beekeeping potential sates in the country. State Khadi & V.I. Boards and non-government organizations (Beekeeping NGOs) registered with KVIC have undertaken meaningful efforts in beekeeping program in the country. Four species of honeybees are available and/or cultivated in India, namely Apis dorsata (indigenous species), Apis cerana (indigenous species), Apis florea (indigenous species), Apis mellifera (introduced in 1987).
Initially in 1953 as many as 230 beekeepers, who maintained around 800 bee colonies in modern bee boxes and were producing 1, 200 Kgs of honey annually. Presently it is estimated that with 25.00 Lakhs of bee colonies, 2.50 Lakhs beekeepers and wild honey collectors’ harvest around 56, 579 MT of honey in country, which valued Rs. 476.04 crores.More than 50 major Honey producing plants species are found plenty throughout the country round the year available for 6 months, minor honey flow for 3 months and the rest 3 months considered dearth period, even though flora is available bees will not forage due to rains. But migratory beekeeping is practiced round the year except August &September. It is now realized that beekeeping has great importance in the agriculture based economy with pollination services, especially oil seeds and pulses production. According to Dr. Swami Nathan, second green revolution is possible only by increasing the pollinators, such as honeybee, thanks to honey production and pollination. In most of villages in India beekeeping is more or less feasible.
The establishment of Khadi and Village Industries Commission to revitalize the traditional village industries, hastened the development of beekeeping. During the 1980s, an estimated one million bee hives had been functioning under various schemes of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission. Production of apiary honey in the country reached 10,000 tons, valued at about Rs. 300 million.
According to the potentiality, country has been divided in to three segments for establishment of State Beekeeping Extension Centers, 1] Most potential States, 2] Medium Potential States and 3] Less Potentials States.
(I) MOST POTENTIAL STATES: Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttaranchal because all these states have very high number of beekeepers and honey production is very high.
(II) MEDIUM POTENTIAL STATES: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, J & K, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya / Shillong and Orissa due to availability floral source but no. of beekeepers and colonies are relatively less.
(III) LESS POTENTIALS STATES: Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman Nicobar.
At KVIC through it’s Central Bee Research & Training Institute (CBRTI), 15 State Beekeeping Extension centers (SBEC), 100 registered institutions, Cooperatives and State Khadi and V.I. Boards. Are undertaking training programs throughout the country.
Training Programs for Beekeepers/ Farmers, wild honey collectors and beginners: The Institute is one of the premier center for beekeeping training in the country and is recognized internationally as beekeeping training center for development conducted following courses with modern teaching aids:
During the year 2015-16, after reviewing entire program of beekeeping, KVIC took up a target of training 2.00 Lakhs persons in the country and support new beekeepers with training & tools followed by EDP of PMEGP. All SBEC are making relentless efforts to achieve the set target. The existing beekeepers and tribal honey collectors shall be grouped and cluster development programs are undertaken with the support of New SFURTI and RID- KRDP.
In the tribal areas, modern beekeeping is introduced increase the remuneration for tribal population. Value added products with honey is being promoted by KVIC. Pollination services are being promoted among the beekeepers, which will generate additional income to beekeepers. The technology on pollen, royal jelly, propolis collection are being disseminated by KVIC.
Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!” so let us persistently exists on earth with honeybees while keeping them with us.