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9 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Family of Beekeepers

By Bipul K Debnath
Family of Beekeepers

It was a sunny, winter day and some beekeepers were busy collecting honey from wooden honey bee boxes next to mustard fields at Sathgaon village in Sreenagar upazila of Munshiganj district recently. The 25 square kilometres (6,178 acres) of mustard fields that look like a sea of yellow would easily catch anyone’s eye. Among the beekeepers, or apiarists, members of Moti Modhu Apiculture Project were also collecting honey there.

“Apiculture, the art of beekeeping, has improved significantly in our country and it is gaining popularity day by day. In our project, honey is collected from honeycombs inside box-type artificial bee hives. These hives are movable and can be used many times. We have six trainees who are learning about honey cultivation. The other members have been working with us for six years,” said Pabel Hossen, director of the project.

Beekeeping is a family business for Hossen and they have been doing it for 55 years. “Beekeeping is our family profession. My father, Belayet Hossen, is also doing the same work. My brother has a shoe business, and he helps us when we take part in any fair. We live at Suritola in the capital’s Bongshal area. I have learnt about honey production from my father, who learned it from my grandfather,” the 28-year-old director said.

About their honey business, Hossen said, “We have to remain busy with collecting honey from different regions of the country round the year. We have our own (processing) factory at Suritola.”

Regarding the history of this family business, Belayet Hossen, 70, who is also a director of the project, said: “My father, Moti Mia, was a well-off man in Suritola area and he used to import honey from India. He bought honey from Indian honey farmers who produced honey through apiculture. Out of interest, my father went to Uttar Pradesh (in India) with them and took training on beekeeping. After coming back, he started cultivating honey in 1962. At present, my son and I are running the business. We have received the best apiculturist award from National Apiculturist Welfare Association. Our project has also been approved by the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI). We also get support from Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC).”

About the process of collecting honey, Pabel Hossen said, “We install artificial bee hives, with frames inside, beside mustard fields. The bees collect nectar from mustard flowers and deposit it inside the hives. The nectar turns into honey after six to seven days. Then we take the frames from the hives and start processing the honey. We keep one queen bee in every box. Every box has some holes and the bees use those for coming and going.”

“The amount of honey produced depends on the quantity of mustard flowers. We will collect the honey when the plants are flowering. At first, we ask the farmers about the profit they expect to make from their harvested crops and we pay them accordingly. They become happy and sometimes help us with our work. Actually, beekeeping helps to increase the yield of mustard seeds and produces pure honey as well,” Pabel Hossen said about the benefit of apiculture near mustard fields.

“We have 160 hives, including double box ones that are called super chambers, and single boxes called brood chambers. Most of our hives are super chambers. We collect 12 to 15 kilogrammes of honey from super chambers and 5 to 7 kg honey from brood chambers every week. Wholesale rate of honey from our factory is Tk 500 per kg and our retail price is Tk 620 per kg,” Pabel Hossen added.

Belayet Hossen has been using his own method to package the honey for many years. “We use our manual processing plant to purify the honey. We have two cauldrons. One is large and contains water. The other is smaller without any water. We boil the water and pour the honey into the big pot. Honey becomes purified at a specific temperature. We have a special thermometer for measuring it. Later on, we filter and pack the honey for selling.”

“Generally, we use apis mellifera, which is also called western or European honey bee, to produce honey in our country. They usually do not bite. But we use special masks to protect our face from them,” he added about the bee species used for apiculture.

Belayet Hossen also provides training to others under his apiculture project. “We also provide training on how to produce honey artificially and commercially. Some of our trainees already have their own honey business and they have become self-reliant. So, I believe beekeeping will help to create employment for many people,” he said.

Belayet Hossen also shared that they have their dealers in Barisal, Narayanganj, Chittagong, Dhaka and other places. One of them is Hellal Uddin, who has been selling Moti Modhu for 10 years at Chawkbazar in Old Dhaka.

“Moti Modhu is the main item in my shop. It is popular among local customers. They always prefer this brand and some also place orders for this pure honey,” the 38-year-old vendor said. He also emphasised on improving packaging for the product. “The quality of our local honey is good. But it needs better packaging for wider marketing,” he added.  

Lahut Miah, assistant deputy secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, has been consuming this honey since 1981. “Everybody should take honey regularly. It helps to keep our body fit. Taking a spoon of honey with a glass of water is really good for health. I have visited the honey farm of Moti Modhu many times. They use modern method to pack the pure honey,” the 62-year-old said.

Photos: Nazmul Islam, Courtesy.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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