1.9. 2018: Visit to two professional beekeepers in Bangladesh

Both are in Gazipura district, some 30 km away from Dhaka, the country’s capital.

To ensure the success of the project several bee colonies had to be procured from among those which already exist in Bangladesh, and which are kept by the local residents. For this reason we visited Pubail and Gazipur.

This area is also called the university area, due to its proximity to the majority of Bangladeshi universities with ancillary complexes of more luxurious buildings than seen elsewhere.

Across the street and behind a fence, though, a completely new world opens, one of simpleliving and dirty, bumpy roads…

There are not many professional beekeepers in Bangladesh. We therefore deemed ourselves luckyand honoured to meet two representatives of the community of professionals.

The first is located in Pubail, and works with more than 100 migratory apiaries. We visited him during the rest period, during which the bees were receiving sugar syrup, since there was no active flowering in the area.

The bees were quiet, still present in some 8 – 10 honey combs with some brood, but without any pollen.

The beekeeper was getting everything ready for the first pasture, expected for the end of October. He was planning to start with mustard and then move the bees to lychee.

The beehives were in good condition, but they were covered with plastic foil and the drinking area was well prepared. The beekeeper told us that he has been active for some 40 years, and that he is looking forward to the new opportunities and technologies that will be enabled through the project with the Beekeeping Academy of Slovenia.

He then accompanied us to the second beekeeper, living some 10 km away.

The bee colonies were placed in an attractive forest environment, surrounded by acacia, lychee, palms and rice fields. But at this time of the year such an environment does not provide any pasture for the bees.

The second beekeeper was also preparing the bees for the rest period, feeding them with sugarsyrup. We also noticed some bee hives covered with sackcloth, which at least is a natural material. Both of the beekeepers had taken part in a beekeeping project organised by the Institute of Agriculture, where each received a completely plastic bee hive which they displayed with pride. However, after talking about animal welfare and the effects plastic can have, we figured up to identify  some possible reasons for the lower yields found in bee colonies living in such hives.

Both beekeepers said they were willing to sell part of their colonies in order to make the project work, as they looked forward to the new developments and advances that it would bring.

After thoroughly examining the bee hives we understood that the major problem the colonies faced was not parasites, viruses or bacteria, but rather the Vespa mandarinia, a very aggressive Asian hornet, and large ants attacking the hives.

We then inspected possible locations for queen breeding, had lunch in the modern centre of the BRAC organisation, and embarked on a long journey to Dhaka. Long not only in terms of distance, but also in terms of the incredible congestion, which continued within a 10 km radius around the capital. Such traffic provides a valuable lesson in patience, as a 30 km drive may take more than 4 hours.