Climate changes hit honey production
ISLAMABAD: Environ-mental and beekeeping experts have termed rising temperature and unseasonal rains as the major causes of destruction of honeybees and reduction in honey production.
The Pallas valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohistan district is home to the bees. The honey harvested by the locals provides livelihood for the community but over the past few years the production has dropped precipitously, according to the experts.
Dr Mehmood Khalid Qamar, a PhD in forests, said that the main reason for the decline of natural honey production was rapid deforestation in KP and upper Punjab areas.
While deforestation might had reduced honey production, the unseasonal rains in recent years had destroyed it, he said.
Dr Rashid Hussain, Senior Scientific officer at the National Agriculture Research Centre’s Honeybee Research Institute, said the rains had killed the flower blossoms from which the bees collected nectar to make honey.
Despite having the potential to be a major honey producer, the country was at number 20 in this field, he said.
He said the Pakistani honey was special because it was made of nectar from flowers of berry trees which were grown in abundance in the Potohar region.
These trees can be seen on the boundary of almost every chunk of land in Chakwal, Mianwali, Karak and Bannu districts.
Unlike many other trees, berry blossoms from mid-September to mid-October and this is the period when the bees produce honey in their hives from the nectar extracted from the flowers, Dr Rashid said.
He said researchers had proved that honey made from berry trees had higher medicinal value, but the flowers were being destroyed by unpredicted rains.
When September approaches, the beekeepers from various areas rush towards the Potohar region and set up their colonies along the roads, he said.
It takes the bees at least a month to complete their work. After harvesting honey, the beekeepers take it to Tarnab, the hub of honey trade in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, from where it is sold to traders who export it to Arab countries, he said.
Ghulam Sarwar, Scientific Officer at the Honeybee Research Institute, said honey extracted from the berry tree and Kalonji plant was the best but the berry trees were being cut in Chakwal district which was a very discouraging sign for the industry. He said the beekeeping colonies were prone to be washed away in floods and the government should make arrangements to rehabilitate them.
Naeem Qasmi, president of the Pakistan Beekeepers Association, said the cutting of berry trees was going on without any check and the business would be badly affected if this was not stopped.