Farmers benefit greatly from honeybees. They produce honey and other bee products which can be sold, consumed, or used as medicine, and they play an important role in pollination of crops and other plants, thereby enhancing farm productivity and conserving biodiversity.
Beekeeping with the indigenous hive bee Apis cerana is an integral component of HKH mountain farming. Apis cerana is well adapted to the climatic conditions at higher altitudes: it can survive under low winter temperatures and extreme temperature fluctuations and continues to work on dull days. In recent times, however, the introduced species Apis mellifera has been promoted in the region for commercial honey production because of its higher honey yield, and lack of awareness of the other important roles that bees play. Populations of Apis cerana and other indigenous honeybees are declining in the region, leading to problems with pollination of early flowering crops and loss of native plant species. ICIMOD’s Beekeeping Project is conducting a number of activities to promote sustainable management of Apis cerana and other indigenous honeybees. Various techniques are demonstrated at the at the Knowledge Park at Godavari including Apis cerana selection and management and integration of pollination in farming systems. The bees are kept near to the plant nursery and a number of fruit orchards, thus supporting pollination on site.