Conservation of indigenous bees
"Biological diversity is the key to the maintenance of the world as we know it"
- Edward O. Wilson
Forest honey has been collected by mountain people for millennia. Its medicinal value and use as a nutrition supplement is well recognized, making it a high value non-timber forest product (NTFP). Once it was a widely available product with most mountain households engaged in traditional honey collection and rearing. Indiscrimate use of pesticides, change in cropping patterns, and loss of habitat has contributed to a sharp decline in bee populations. More remunerative options available to the beekeepers have also resulted in disinterest in the activity.
The ongoing project aims to conserve the indigenous bees Apis cerena by developing honey and other value added by products and create awareness of critical role of bees in pollination of crops and promotion of sustainable harvesting practices.
Any improvement in the commercial potential of forest honey is linked directly to conservation of flowering shrubs and trees locally. For instance, indigenous flowering species in the mid Himalaya like wild apricot, bird cherry, chestnuts, hazelnuts and a host of perennial shrubs/ climbers, are in decline not only due to habitat factors but because they are not perceived to be of high commercial value.