29.8. 2018: THE CARNIOLAN HONEY BEE IN BANGLADESH

29.8. 2018: Talks with Bangladeshi state institutions:

For the residents of Bangladesh, the greatest concern is the introduction of a non-indigenous animal species.

The country is very agricultural, and for many local people the main sources of income are plants. It is therefore understandable that people are very cautious when it comes to any foreign influence on their ecosystem. After some market analysis, and environmental and population research for the purposes of risk analysis in the pre-implementation phase, we saw that the main problem in this area is a lack of knowledge. People were thus worried about the promotion of beekeeping as a new agricultural activity.

With our beekeeper-tutor who will be in chargeof the practical implementation of the project, BAS played an important role interms of raising awareness in various government institutions with regard to pollination and the advantages of beekeeping with Carniolan Honey Bee. 

Beekeeping in Bangladesh – the current state of affairs in the pre-implementation phase:

Beekeeping:

Bangladesh has some 300 registered beekeepers who want to live from the selling of honey. Family beekeeping is not known, and there is no transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. The only mode of beekeeping is migratory beekeeping, and often the beekeepers move the bees to several locations to benefit from several pastures.

Bees:

Italian Honey Bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) was introduced in the 1990’s from India (40 colonies) following an epidemic of the sack brood virus which decimated the number of colonies of the Eastern HoneyBee (Apis cerana). A further 300 colonies were introduced at a later stage. Currently there are between 55,000 and 60,000 colonies present in Bangladesh. This number is the result of dividing the original colonies. Despite the high probability of non-registeredimport, the genetic pool is very modest. What is more, the price for bee colonies is very high. There is no local breeding of queen bees, and their origin is unknown.

The hivesand technology in Bangladesh:

The hives are mainly adapted LR hives. We noticed that the comb frames are often not flat and their wiring is poor and not sufficiently embedded. The combs would break or move while extracting honey. The hives are placed on the ground, sometimes with PVC foil underneath. They have no special flooring, the entrance in the hive isat the floor level, and there is no aeration from beneath. We could not spot avarroa floor with an insert. The width between the comb frames is not even, and the combs are often not sufficiently spaced. A queen excluder is not used, and that is why brood is spread along all the combs. The brood and honey often hinder the queen bees, which prevents the rapid growth of colonies. The beekeepers rarely use honey supers. We have noticed the use of insecticide against ants. The hives are mainly made from the wood of Cordia subcordata, imported from Canada or Australia. We even saw hives made of recycled wood pallets. Due to rain, humidity, poor roof construction and non-existent paint protection, the hives usually do not outlast two seasons, on average.

Pasture locations, bee pasture and hives locations

There are three or four main types of pasture in Bangladesh. The season begins with mustard/rapeseed, followed simultaneously by coriander, black cumin and mango. The next pasture is lychee; this is when the colonies are the strongest. Thenthe colonies are taken to the mangroves for blossom pasture. Agricultural landwith monoculture (such as mustard) offers very poor support to the colonies when the monoculture is not in blossom. For this reason beekeeping in the same location is only advised in the proximity of forests and outside of the areas of intense agriculture. According to our information, such land is only available in coastal and mountainous areas, where more varied pasture is available most of the season. Due to relatively high prices, the supplementary feed during the “dead” season is often too expensive. The beekeepers therefore sell the majority of their colonies (between 20 to 30 %) before the beginning of the monsoon season. At that time the colonies are undernourished, and many do not survive the rain season.

Diseases and parasites

From the diseases known to us, we were able to spot varroa in drone cells and wax moth. Our sources confirmed the presence of the Tropilaelaps bug. We were informed about the sac brood virus, and also noticed chalk brood. A case of foul brood was noticed five years ago. Nosema spore and small hive beetle are also present, the latter not causing significant trouble. We heard complaints about the lack of adequate acaricide. Traditionally varroa is treated with burning tobacco.