Honey, I poisoned the bees!

By Shravan Regret Iyer

Bengaluru:  Fighting to stay green, the city is in danger of losing its honey too, literally. The buzz is that while bees have adapted to the buildings that have sprung up in place of trees and willingly made their hives on them, they are fighting a losing battle against deadly pesticides that are increasingly being used to get rid of beehives in Garden City Bengaluru.

“Everyday, several IT companies and apartments get beehives removed using strong pesticide sprays. They not only kill the bees in the process but also poison the honey, making it unfit for consumption,” rues Pankaj Pandit of SLK Foundation.

Officials of the BBMP Forest Cell say they hear of at least two cases of honeycombs being destroyed every day.

Photo by M M Karim
Photo by M M Karim

“Many people are not aware that honeybees are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act and are not pests. We have issued many circulars, but unscientific methods are still followed. When we are contacted, we send tribals, who have migrated to the city from Nepal, to extract the honey and relocate the bees,” says one officer.

Honey is preferred over sugar for its glycemic properties. And its anti-oxidant properties can help reduce chances of cancer occurring, say doctors. “Honey is always better than sugar as it has more carbohydrates that are main source of fuel for our bodies. Also, if someone wants to keep his blood sugar level under control, he could include small amount of honey in his diet,” says Dr. Shabber S. Zaveri, head of Department of Surgical Oncology at Manipal Hospital.

The traditional way of retrieving honey from beehives is seen as expensive and this puts off many from using it, according to him.

“The tribals charge depending on the height at which the beehive is located. The cost for extracting honey and relocating bees varies from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000. But as pesticides are available for much less, people prefer to kill these bees rather than spend on traditional methods,” he says.

“We get only four to five calls a month to extract honey. As most people prefer using pesticide, we hardly get to use our traditional methods of extracting honey. So we go in search of beehives to places like Kolar, KGF and Chintamani and sell the honey we collect for about Rs. 350 a litre in the city,” says Raju, a tribal.


This story was originally published in Deccan Chronicle Nov 4, 2014 edition.