The Western Ghats Task Force of Karnataka has expressed concern over decline in honey bee colonies in forests.
Addressing presspersons here on Thursday, Anant Hegde Ashisar, chairman of the task force, said that the number of honey bee colonies is coming down in the forests. He attributed it to factors such as decline in forest cover, loss of different varieties of trees that house honey bee colonies, and use of pesticides for crops.
Most of the farmers are now looking at rubber as a cash crop. This has led to the rapid expansion of rubber plantations in villages. In the process, many farmers remove the flower-bearing plants and deny nectars to bees.
Ashisar said that many contractors, who get rights to collect honey from the Forest Department by paying a small sum in the tendering process, extract honey in a crude way by setting fire to the colonies. This is also one of the reasons for decline in the number of honey bee colonies in forest areas, he said.
Stating that experts from agriculture universities have stressed on sustainable honey harvesting methods, Ashisar said village forest committees should be entrusted with the task of collecting honey from bee colonies in forests. The Forest Department should do away with awarding contract for honey extractions in forests.
Ashisar suggested that the Forest Department should encourage growing different varieties of trees that house honey bee colonies in the villages adjoining the forests. The nurseries of Forest Department should supply such varieties to farmers.
The departments concerned such as forests, horticulture, and agriculture and horticulture varsities should work together for development of honey bee colonies in forests and other areas, he said.
Experts from agriculture universities have studied the pattern of honey bee culture in the forest areas of Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district. Their study report will be released on February 28, he added.