What is the current beekeeping scenario in India?
Beekeeping is an excellent source of employment for the rural unemployed in India. Currently, more than 350,000 farmers in India are employed through Beekeeping.
Climatic changes have resulted in lesser rainfall, leading to increase in difficulty to maintain bee colonies. It is because of this that sugar feed and antibiotics usage is on the rise.
Due to the domination of bigger brands and inflow of cheap honey from China, native beekeepers are forced to keep lesser profit margins, and in many cases end up selling for a loss.
Why should you carefully choose your Honey in India?
Adulteration: Most of the Indian honey brands, in a fight to offer low prices, resort to contamination of honey by mixing sugar. Even popular brands like Dabur reportedly add 20%-70% sugar. Adding sugar suppresses the primary benefit of honey. Refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins and are often called empty calories. Honey, a natural sweetener, on the other hand, contains 22 amino acids and a variety of minerals essential for its metabolism.
Contamination: Most developed countries have banned or regulated strict quality standards for honey. Most of the Indian branded honey makers meet those standards when exporting honey, but resort to dumping their contaminated honey in the Indian market. The potent antibiotics found in commercial honey samples in India are Chloramphenicol, Fluoroquinolones, Tetracyclines, Nitrofurans, Streptomycins and Sulfanomides. These antibiotics are fed to bees to prevent diseases, promote quick growth and increase production numbers to meet commercial targets.
Honey Laundering/Circumvention: Honey has become a staple food in the West. Due to heavy demand, they started importing honey and as with any other case, China started polluting the American honey market with sub-standard honey. In 2001, the US government increased duties to 221% for honey imports from China, to curb this. Unfortunately, a lot of this Chinese honey is coming into India now. Most of the popular brands mix Indian honey with Chinese imported honey to bring down their selling price. Contrary to other products where branded means more expensive, you can get branded honey in India a lot cheaper than pure natural honey.
Harmful Honey Processing: To standardize the taste and improve the texture, Honey is pasteurized by heating. The pasteurizing process in turn destroys the essential enzymes and converts the nutrient-rich Honey to a mere sugar syrup. Poor quality of the Honey leads to decreased consumption in India. An average German consumes 2.1kg of honey per year, whereas it is limited to around 8gm for an Indian.
It is really unfortunate that nature’s best gift to man itself is being adulterated in India. This is precisely one of the reasons we started Honey House.
What is Honey House?
www.honeyhouse.in is an e-commerce portal dedicated for pure honey and honey-based products. In addition to the usual honey which all of us must have tasted, we bring certain unique honey products to the table, including Monofloral Honey (honey collected from a single species of plants), Flavored Honey, Bee Pollen and Honey Dips.
How does Honey House operate?
Honey House is a Joint Venture by Shamee Bee Farm and HashTag Technologies, Tamilnadu. Mr. Jeykumar of Shamee Bee Farm is a Limca Book of Records holder, and has been in the honey business for the past 25 years. We have our bee hives predominantly in Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, primarily owing to the conducive climate and rich flora of these regions. And true to the #MakeInIndia initiative, our honey completely comes from Indian farms, thus creating income sources for hundreds of indigenous farmers.
How do we select the hive placement regions?
We have strict criteria to select hive placements. These include:
Proximity of Natural Water sources: Bees require water as much as humans to thrive. In order to not use any antibiotics and for natural bee health, we choose regions which are in close proximity to natural water sources.
Organic Fields: Pesticides and Artificial manure affect the bee health in a big way. We choose farms which use organic feed and natural pesticides.
No mobile towers: Microwaves adversely impact pollination and the health of bees. So we choose farms which are away from mobile phone towers.
Constant Migration: Since India is a huge country with a variety of flora, the flowering season of each region keeps changing, and we need to migrate the honey colonies at strategic intervals to keep the bee population on the rise and also improve the quality of honey.
What quality standards does Honey House adhere to?
- 100% natural Honey without any artificial substances. We are proud to have obtained “Special Grade” classification from AGMARK. Also, our Honey is regularly tested for quality by the Central Bee Research and Training Institute(CBRTI) in Pune, something which even the bigger Honey brands in India do not do.
- No artificial sugar feed. All our honey comes from 100% natural nectar. However, during rainy seasons, in order to save the bee population from dying, we provide sugar feed, but that is only for the bee colony. We do not extract that honey and sell it commercially.
- We do not do any harmful honey pasteurization processes which heat honey up to 160 degrees C. Our post processing involves removal of bee body residues, dust and wax – which are not fit for human consumption, and making honey homogeneous.
- Our Honey is subjected to thorough lab examination by the CBRTI to keep our moisture, sugar, acidity and other levels as per international standards.
An Appeal our Readers:
As you have read above, it is our noble initiative to make pure natural honey available to everyone in India. Pure Honey has innumerable health benefits including weight loss, memory enhancement, boosting energy levels, healing wounds, healthy hair & skin, etc., We would like all of your encouragement and support in this venture of ours! #SayYesToHoney
Often the lives of bees are underestimated. Without bees there is no pollination, no crops and no flowers. A bee does so much of nature’s work apart from producing the sweet honey which we relish on in our everyday life. Here are some interesting facts that we all need to know about these wondrous creatures.
- The bees have their own language: Yes, you heard that right. Honey bees make use of one of the most complicated symbolic languages. Honey bees have over a million neurons stored in their tiny brains and they ensure that every single neuron is utilised. Each category of bees has its own set of duties and every bee must perform them efficiently. The code language of bees was deciphered by Karl von Frisch.
- The various kinds of bees: Worker bees are infertile female who come with several responsibilities like constructing hive, food and water collection for the queen and related tasks. Different kinds of worker bees include foragers (mainly responsible for gathering water, pollen and nectar), guards, undertakers (flying the dead bees out) and scouts (look for nectar and communicate the same). Drones are male bees who wait to fertilise the queen eggs and then just die. Queen bee is very important for the hive. A queen bee can lay up to 1500 – 2000 eggs per day almost all her life. The queen bee is so busy laying eggs throughout that most of her chores are done by the attendants.
- Beeswax is made by the youngest worker: The worker bee has eight paired glands on the underside of the abdomen that produce wax droplets. The worker bees then soften the flakes with their mouths to further use it for construction.
- Bees maintain a constant temperature throughout the year: It is believed that honey bees maintain a temperature of 93 degree Fahrenheit. During winter, they get closer to form a tight group so that the hive is warm and in summer the workers flap their wings and fan the air to the queen bee.
- A honey bee makes about 1/12 teaspoons of honey in a lifetime: And to produce about a pound of honey, the bees have to tap about 2 million flowers. At times the bees fly over 55000 miles to collect this amount of honey and not to forget the average speed of 15 miles per hour.