As in other areas, the recent devastating floods have also taken their toll on many beekeepers where their bee boxes have been washed away by the gushing water here in KP. Flood beekeepers that hit Swat, Charsadda and Nowshera suffered heavy economic losses after their hives were swept away by record floods that wreaked havoc among humans and private properties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “This morning I rushed to the south bank of the Kabul River after my village Mohib Banda was inundated by floods in an effort to save my 100 boxes of bees, but all of them were swept away by flash water. , in a gify,” Kamal Khan, a Nowshera beekeeper said while speaking to APP.
The 23-year-old beekeeper was living a happy life until August 27, 2022, when water of more than three lakh cusec in the Kabul River washed away all his boxes of bees in seconds and he was now looking to the help from the government to start his pain all over again. business once the flooding situation becomes normal. Kamal had entered the beekeeping profession after dropping out of school seven years ago following the death of his father from cancer and was leading a prosperous life unless today’s flood struck.
He said, “My whole family was in shock after my father Hamayun Khan died and I didn’t know what to do? However, I started this activity on the advice of my mother and today I am again in shock after the destruction of all my bee colonies. “Initially I bought 20 boxes of bees and by the grace of Allah Almighty it grew to 100 boxes within a few years due to my hard work despite limited resources,” he said. . “When the flood hit my village on Saturday morning, our whole family rushed to the bank of the Kabul River to move our hives to safer places, but within minutes we were stranded in floodwaters. flood of eight to 10 feet spread over miles, with people screaming and running desperately for their lives in Mohib Banda,” he said.
He said they managed to save only 20 bee boxes and move them to his room, but those were also destroyed due to flood water entering inside the rooms. He said he suffered a loss of nearly Rs eight lakh. The motivated youngster said he would restart his business soon after the flooding situation improves. He said the government should provide interest-free loans and fix honey tariffs so that floods hitting beekeepers can benefit from their work. The energetic beekeeper said in the past that he traveled to Punjab and Azad in Kashmir to easily supply bee flora plants to his bees and expand their business. However, the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was now favorable for beekeepers due to the increase in bee flora due to the billion tree project. Sher Zaman, general secretary of the Pakistan Beekeepers Association, said the recent flood had wreaked havoc on the beekeeping sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The torrential rains and devastating flash floods that followed caused losses of millions of rupees to beekeepers, exporters and honey traders in the province and this loss could hardly be overcome without government support,” he said. -he adds.
He said thousands of bee boxes had been taken to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where beekeepers were facing many problems.
“About 7,000 to 10,000 honey farms existed in the province and if no compensation and loans were given, more than 100,000 people associated with bee farms in the province could face starvation.” “Beekeeping is a profitable business and anyone with at least Rs 250,000 to 300,000 can easily buy 50 to 70 boxes of bees to get up to 20 kg to 30 kg of honey from each box twice a day. year,” he added.
He said Pakistani honey was preferred in the Middle East and other countries because of its better quality and demanded compensation from beekeepers affected by the floods. Zaman admitted that a slight adjustment in the prices of bair and falsa honey had been made due to higher fuels and transportation costs in addition to foreign-made medicines and sugar.
He urged the KP government to ban the cutting of ber and palosa trees on the pattern of deodara and to severely punish the timber mafia to save the little creature from extinction.
The government should provide interest-free loans under the Islamic banking system to encourage beekeepers affected by the floods. “The recent floods have also affected the local bee population scientifically known as Apis florae (little Swati bee) due to the loss of bee flora plants in Swat,” an official from the agency said. Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) at Tarnab, Peshawar. He said that there is every chance of losing an average of five to ten kilograms out of 1000 kilograms of honey production if preventive measures against flooding are not taken for their preservation and protection. “There is a possibility of losing wild bees in the future if flood mitigation efforts were not made in addition to proper attention to their preservation and natural forest management,” said Dr. Mumtaz Malik, former Chief Curator of the Wildlife Department.
“Wild bee is a great source of quality honey which requires proper strategy and mechanism to achieve maximum production and protection from floods and rains,” Dr Malik said, adding that the honey trade could be developed as a non-timber forest product for the locals. living near forests to increase their income through the preservation and protection of wild bee populations from flooding. He stressed the need to build the capacity of beekeepers to deal with any situation such as floods and raising bee plant nurseries for the promotion of the honey industry.
Emphasis should be placed on the conservation of Apis Dorsata (wild bee) as it has the capacity to produce 35-40 kg of honey from each comb, he said, adding that wild bees do usually their nests in tall trees or buildings in reserved forests.
Iftikhar Khalil, KP Non-Timber Forest Products Manager, said data from affected beekeepers will be collected for financial assistance. “The floods affected beekeepers mainly in Swat, Charsadda, Tank, DI Khan and Charsadda and scientific investigation would be needed to verify the flood damage to four famous honey bees including Apis Cerana (little bee), Apis Dorsata ( wild bee), Apis Flori (little bee) and exotic Apis Mellifera.
He said Pakistan has huge potential to produce more than 7,500-8,000 tons of honey from around 300,000 settlements per year and diversion of financial resources to mitigate floods is urgently needed. Admitting the effects of climate change on the population of Apis Flori and Apis Dorsata commonly known as “Swat bees”, he said Apis mellifera was imported from Australia in 1977 due to its rapid growth and potency. increased honey production.
He said a research project was started at Agricultural Research Institute Tarnab, Peshawar, Faisalabad and National Agricultural Research Center Islamabad in 1979 to analyze the properties of mellifera. Mallifera produces about 20 to 25 kg of honey per crate compared to six to eight kg from native bees twice a year. “Apis Dorsata has the capacity to produce 40 to 45 kg of honey from each hive, mostly in tall trees and buildings,” he said, adding that around 120,000 to 150,000 wild bees were occupied in a comb one meter long and half a meter wide making 120 degrees. angle and their honey-generating powers affected in the event of torrential rains and floods due to the loss of plants and the destruction of their hives.