Honey: Beekeepers in Bumthang did not harvest as much honey as they did last year due to unfavourable weather conditions.

The honey cooperative’s chairman, Tul Bahadur Chhetri, said that there was frost in most of the places in Bumthang in the beginning of May, killing flowers that are crucial for the bees to produce honey.

Besides frost, Tul Bahadur Chhetri said, the weather was not ideal. Too much rain or sun is not good for the bees, he explained, adding that for the bees to be able to produce a good amount of honey, the weather should be “moderate”. But then, honey production also largely depends on how people manage the hives, he pointed out.

“Although the number of beekeepers has increased, we are expecting just about 15 metric tonnes of honey this year against 21 metric tonnes last year,” said Tul Bahadur Chhetri.

Tsheten Dorji from Jalikhar, who has 70 hives, is expecting to earn about Nu 0.7 million (M) this season. Last year, he made more than Nu 0.3M last year with just 25 hives. “If the yield is bad in some areas, it must be good in other.s” Tsheten’s hives are scattered in different places.

Tshewang from Chamkhar has 13 hives. With just eight hives last year, Tshewang made Nu 0.1 million.

Kunzang Dorji from Chumey, who is relatively new to beekeeping, made more than Nu 55,000 from honey last year. It has been just two years since Kunzang got into the business. He hopes to make more money this year because he does not have to spend for hives and other equipment.

Tul Bahadur Chhetri said that the cooperative is one of the more successful cooperatives in the country today. It is facing difficulty in meeting demand. “We are not able to meet even 60 percent of the domestic demand.” Demand comes from other countries as well.

Around 50 hives are lost every year to bears.

Tul Bahadur Chhetri said that shops in Thimphu wanted to deposit advance money for honey. “We could not accept their proposal because we could not be sure of the harvest this year.”

Beekeepers in Bumthang harvest honey twice a year – in July and the other in September. Honey is clover-flavoured in July and buckwheat-flavoured in September.

The cooperative that was established in 1996 under a HELVETAS project. It has 60 registered members today.

Nima Wangdi | Chamkhar