Tag Archives: biodynamic

February Timeline: Swarming season and the Indian summer

8 Mar

DSC_0239 - CopyWe’re happy to report a very fruitful February for the Pollinator Programme. The month started with the partners learning to divide colonies more efficiently. We’ve trained our partners to divide the hive during swarming season. According to the region and the climatic conditions, the period of swarming varies greatly from one site to another. It generally happens a few months after the beginning of the flowering season. In Araku, swarming happens from January to March, as well as at the beginning of the monsoon, in June. We were pleasantly surprised to find one of the colonies we divided in Kotagumam had more than 5 queen cells! The hive was carried around a kilometer from the mother hive,  to avoid the possibility of worker bees coming back to their initial address. The new colony has been put in a coffee plantation on a tree which is locally called Madi tree.

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We also had a visit from our mother bee, Briony Young, who brought us the original Sunhive last year. We loved sharing our ideas with her and have constantly been in touch with her throughout the last year for her valuable inputs on the programme. She was impressed by the progress that our partners had made and offered a training session on how to plant bee-friendly trees and plants around hives. She is an expert biodynamic farmer and spends her time shuttling between her native Zimbabwe and England.

With the onset of summer our bee garden has suffered. The soil is becoming harder and we are doing a séance of CPP (Cow Pat Pit) Biodynamic method to improve the quality of the soil- can be called a super fertilizer. The sultry South Indian summer does have a silver lining, with the mango flower season starting. Mango is more of a pollen supplier tree, meaning our bees are in for a treat!

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Back to Hyderabad were I visited the farm of our good friend and biodynamic farmer, Anjali Rudraraju. She is working on creating a Sunhive on her biodynamic farm as well. She has a lot of Apis florea on her plot and we also observed the presence on the Borage flower of our little friends Apis cerana. You can check out more about Anjali’s farm and her work on her Mitti and Mango Nation Facebook page.

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Timeline January 2014: Happy New Year from the Araku Valley

6 Feb

We’ve been busy over the new year period and haven’t been able to update everybody. A belated New Year greetings to all! The new year promises much for the women beekeepers of the Araku Valley.

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As per the lunar calendar the residents of the Emerald Valley celebrated their new year, two weeks into the year on Makar Sankranti. Celebrated across India and even parts of Nepal, the Hindu harvest festival holds a special significance for farmers. As the Araku Valley found itself amidst festive revelry, we were engaged on Dr. Patel’s bio-dynamic farm in Baroda, Gujarat.

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At the farm, we spoke about the bio-dynamic Sun hive which is currently in the process of being redesigned to adapt to the local bee population. We were happy to present it to the people present at the workshop. Thanks to the natural beekeeping trust of England we We also highlighted our efforts towards natural beekeeping practices.

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To have healthy bees, we need healthy plants and for this the soil needs to be nutritious. The practice of bio-dynamic agriculture ensures the soil is revitalized. If you are interested and want to know know more about this type of agriculture, check their website: http://www.biodynamics.in

Back in Araku, our partners are slowly filling their hives. What a joy to see the girls learning how to handle the bees without fear. The bees are also extremely active at this time of the year. The buzzing of bees is music to our ears, we’re expecting several colonies to swarm to our specially built hives

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The bee garden is growing and slowly changing. We recently made a Pagoda and introduce one Newton hive and one sun hive. And for the first time in history, a swarm established in the redesigned hive and started making a comb. It is an immense hope to have our sun hive filled with the Asian bees. After so many effort on adapting the Size, make the template, find someone who could do it and which was able to do it in bulk and constantly. We are making it in rice straw and they are not using a plastic bottle to respect the size they can do it only with their hands! Amazing, right?

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March 2013: Bee Aware

10 Apr

BD tof 1bd tofI was recently invited to a Biodynamic training workshop in Bangalore. The workshop which was held at Lifeboat farm in south east end of the city, was attended by around 30 people from across the country. I presented a lecture on the practical aspect of natural Beekeeping.  It was a joy to present for such a receptive and aware audience. All willing to be part of the solution and have fun in the process. Our friend and ally Briony who bought us back the first Sunhive in India (given by the Natural beekeeping trust) was in attendance and explained it’s advantages to one and all.
camphill.tiffOn the third day Briony and myself were invited to a place called Friends of Camphill, a community where  people with disabilities can learn to live with their limitations. We spoke briefly about bees to a very eager and interested group. It was a memorable experience for them and for us.
Our objective was spread as much awareness about the  challenges bees and the beekeeping community faces today. I think this was goal was more than achieved, the interest we had garnered for beekeeping was evidently clear.

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Back to the valley now, where new beekeepers (about 30) have begun building shelters for their future bees. As you can see, we tried to replicate the same style across shelters using bamboo and straw. This time we made individual shelters.

 

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The roof has been made in this shape to keep the water from stagnating. In our previous shelters the roof was flat and we faced minor issues during monsoons. In this way we  wont have the problem of water stagnating. Newton hives are being built locally and soon will be distributed to them.

burned shelterAt present conditions aren’t particularly conducive for the bees. It is extremely hot and really dry to boot. We are encouraging our beekeepers to assure that the bees have a source of water near by. When I say hot I’m not kidding, recently, one of our shelters started burning but fortunately the bees were well protected in their shelter and were not harmed at all! Thank god for that.