With about 25 farmers of Patshaling gewog in Tsirang taking up large-scale commercial beekeeping, the business is thriving in the gewog.
Farmer Tshering Wangdi has more than 100 beehives (modern boxes) placed around his house and farm.
At the moment 15 boxes have bees. “It is off-season now and bees from other boxes have left because of cold,” the farmer said.
He said beekeeping is one of the easiest businesses one can do along with farming. “There is little work but the return is amazing.”
Last year, he harvested 80 bottles (750ml) of honey. In the previous year, he harvested over 400 bottles.
Tshering Wangdi said the production dropped last year because heavy rainfall shred flowers, leaving less nectar for bees. He also said that the early onset of cold last season affected the production.
Honey is harvested sometime between November and December.
Besides beekeeping, Tshering Wangdi also makes beehives. In the last six years, he sold at least 500 hives for Nu 3,000 each. He also sells bee colony.
Another farmer in Thakorling chiwog, Mon Bahadur Sunar, 51, has been into beekeeping for the last eight years. Today, he has 35 beehives.
He said he is interested to expand his business even though beekeeping is an unpredictable business. “It does not require time-to-time nurturing unlike growing vegetables or other farming.”
Mon Bahadur said the success of beekeeping would solely depend on weather, rainfall and flowers. “The honey that comes to market from Tsirang is purely on nectar from flowers in the wild. It has high medicinal value.”
Another farmer, Gyalbo Dorji, 52, said beekeeping was a tradition practised since his great-grandparents time. “But then it was just for household consumption.”
He said with increasing demand for honey, he began commercialising. He has now installed 27 modern beehives (square boxes) and has 20 traditional hives.
He said the modern hives provided by the government at a subsidised rate are better. “During harvesting, bees can be retained and little honey left for them to continue whereas in the traditional hive, all the bees will fly away during harvest.”
He said he intends to replace old hives so that more bee colony could be retained. “When the season is good, we harvest at least 10kg of honey from each modern beehive.”
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang