March 11, 2019
We all must have tasted honey, the thick golden liquid which was the world’s main sweetener until sugar took over that place most of us may not be aware about the role of tiny honeybees in safeguarding our ecology. But how many of us are aware that honey bees are essential for crop pollination without which our food supply would decline drastically or that a honey bee has to make 500 trips to the plants to collect one drop of honey? Or for that matter do we know that a honey bee has to visit 40 lac flowers to produce one kg of honey? For many of us, a tiny honey bee may not hold much importance or interest. At this juncture it is pertinent to recall what scientist Albert Einstein had said about honey bees: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth man would have no more than four years to live”, which highlights the importance of honey bees for the sustenance of humans and our eco system.
Narasimha Bhat with Honey Park team
Narasimha Bhat receiving the Outlook Responsible tourism award from Belinda Wright
Demo about honey bee
Hands on experience with bees
‘Honey Park’ which has recently come up in Joida, about 20 kms from Dandeli, has been set up with the main objective of spreading awareness among the general public about the various facets honey bees - their role in our lives by safeguarding our environment, their behavior, their working style, their discipline, honey bee farming or everything that one wants to know about the honey bees. This honey park is in Joida Taluk that boasts of a dense forest cover of almost 87%, which makes it an ideal location and perfect destination for setting up this unique park. The park is the brainwave of Kadumane Narasimha Bhat of Dandeli Kadumane Homestay fame. He is multi-faceted personality involved in an array of activities such as wildlife, environment, tourism, agriculture and is also an entrepreneur. As an educated progressive farmer Narasimha Bhat wants to ascertain that agriculture can be a profitable and rewarding career if farmers adopt ingenious ways coupled with a scientific approach.
‘Kadumane Homestay’ owned by Narasimha Bhat recently romped home as the Best Wildlife Stay, winning the gold under Outlook’s Responsible Initiative for the year 2019, instituted by Outlook India magazine, has always shown great penchant for doing things differently and with a streak of innovation. Honey Park is a step in this direction. Honey Park which has come up in a one and half acre land amidst dense forest is more than just a park. The surrounding forest provides the right milieu for the bees to collect honey from a variety of flowers. Apart from having all major five types of honey bees and more than 150 beekeeping boxes at the moment with provision for more than 250 beekeeping boxing, plans are on the anvil to have a full-fledged honey bank, honey library, different types of beekeeping boxes, provide
bee therapy and manufacture consumer items like honey bee soap, candle, bee was, honey chocolate, honey jam and much more. “Using honey as the basic raw material there is ample scope to come out with a variety of food products, toiletries and beauty items. Sky is the limit,” asserts Narasimha Bhat. All this would take 4 to 5 years by which time Narasimha expects it to be a full-fledged honey park. He is also expecting a turnover of more than a crore from this project and has a plan in action to achieve it.
Loved honey as a kid
Narasimha was initially exposed to the honey bees as a kid by the local Kudubi tribes who were adept in collecting honey from forests at a time when there was no other form of entertainment especially in the rural areas. This tribe encouraged him to touch bee hives and he remembers how he tolerated honey bee bites just because he could eat honey as a reward. He recalls and says, “Initially I loved only the honey but as I grew up and watched them closely I fell in love with the honey bees and since then it has been a continuous process. I am greatly enthralled by the work culture of honey bees, their discipline, the unity they exhibit and also the division of labour policy they follow so assiduously and their structure.”
Narasimha Bhat is a firm believer in the theory ‘one should enjoy the work he or she does and only then we can love whatever work we intend to do’. He practiced this principle and in the process trying to understand more about the life, the work culture and the structure of honey bees he got too involved in them. He says, “In this process of my deep involvement I felt I am too small, too trivial in front of the honey bees.” Though he is into beekeeping for the last two decades he wanted to do beekeeping in an organized way thus paving the way for setting up the Honey Park.
Hands on experience with honey bees
This honey park is first of its kind in India says Narasimha Bhat because according to him this is the only park that gives an opportunity for discerning visitors to get a guided tour experience on how honey bees make honey, how honey is processed and sold, different types of beekeeping boxes used, the behavior of the bees, their working style, how the queen bee is protected, how honey is collected and such other details. To put it simply the honey park will provide the visitors a glimpse of the importance of honeybees and the role they play in our eco system by paying a nominal guide fee of Rs 50. The guided tour will be free of cost for school college students. He also plans to provide training for those who are interested in beekeeping.
Based on his experience Narasimha Bhat says that the texture, colour and taste of the honey differ depending on the type of bees and the type of flowers from which the bees collect the nectar. For example honey bee derived from Misri bee (the one without sting) produces very less quantity but that honey though thinner has more medicinal properties. Similarly depending on the trees, flowers in the area and the season the texture and taste of the honey also differs. Near the Honey Park there are lot of Rosewood trees and the colour and taste of the honey derived during the flowering season of this tree differs as compared to other seasons, declares Narasimha Bhat.
At present the park has four Indian varieties of honey bees and shortly it plans to have the 5th type, Italian honey bee and when it becomes full-fledged honey park he wants to house all the types of honey bees of the world. A honey bank is also planned by collecting different type of honey produced all over the world for demonstration, exhibition and study purpose only. A bee library is also on the anvil which will have literature from India and other countries pertaining to honey bees and also about different types of honey under a single roof. He is also planning to provide bee therapy and is already in consultation with doctors for this purpose. A unique feature of Honey Park is that it has only female employees who exhibit similar love, passion and care towards honey bees. The four female employees are locals and they give demo to visitors and take care of the honey bees and the entire Honey Park. Patience is important aspect in beekeeping and Narasimha Bhat says women have lot of patience and hence are more suitable for the job.
Narasimha Bhat is never tired of talking about honey bees and about their virtues. He showed me a few honey bees just at the entrance of the bee keeping box fiercely fluttering their wings. He says that is the way the honey bees try to keep the box cool by fanning their wings. He also explained about the stereotype movements of bees which he calls dances. The honey bees perform these dances to signal or communicate the location of floral resources to the other bees in the colony. If the source is close to the location they form round dances and the rate of round dancing also suggests the value of the resources. He drives home a message ‘no bee - no we’ to spread the awareness about the importance of honey bees. It was indeed enlightenment for me as I had not known much about honey bees before.
Certainly Narasimha Bhat has a veritable desire to think out of the box and in doing so he contributes to the conserves the environment and also for the economic development of the area. He demonstrated this first with ‘Kadumane Homestay’ which won the India Responsible Tourism Award instituted by Outlook magazine. Kadumane Homestay is also unique as the cottages are built on eco friendly concept and the cottages are surrounded by thick natural forest. Visitors can spot wild animals, different types of birds, variety of rare plants and fruit bearing trees, bee keeping - all in a natural set up. His homestay has become so popular that he is called Kadumane Narasimha Bhat and he does enjoy the new prefix to his name.