Bees are dy­ingy

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

S M Shan­thaveera­iah, for­mer As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor of Agri­cul­ture, Kar­nataka. He is also a bee keeper

The US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice has added seven bee species in Hawaii to the fed­eral list of en­dan­gered and threat­ened species. In In­dia too, warm­ing cli­mate and habi­tat loss are driv­ing In­dian bee colonies to the brink

Like the US, In­dia's bee colonies too are de­clin­ing fast. Take, for in­stance, my state Kar­nataka. Kodagu honey is famous for its sweet­ness and pu­rity. Its pro­duc­tion was at its peak in 1982-84, when I was in ser­vice. But now, the honey bee colonies in the district have van­ished. This is largely be­cause of the spray­ing of her­bi­cides and pes­ti­cides. The de­cline of bees in In­dia, as in other coun­tries, could have se­ri­ous con­se­quences for agri­cul­ture since bees are prime pol­li­na­tors. There are two main rea­sons for this. One, api­cul­ture is de­clin­ing. And sec­ond, honey bees have no pro­tec­tion against her­bi­cides, pes­ti­cides and other chem­i­cals. But there is still hope. If peo­ple who have an in­ter­est in api­cul­ture take to it se­ri­ously, we can still in­crease our bee pop­u­la­tions.

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