Tag Archives: Sun hive

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.


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.


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.


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?



January 2013: Honey-filled hives promise sweeter futures

16 Feb

Phew! A LOT of work behind us now. Hectically exciting times ahead for everybody involved. Here’s an update for all on where the project is heading!

Honey: Nectar of Gods

Lakshmi checking if the honey is ready!

6 months after being established, our first beneficiary’s hive is brimming with honey! We’re happy to report that we’ve collected 2kg of pure medicinal honey from the super.

In order to reduce aggravation caused to the bees, we’ve left one comb full untouched.


Meet our youngest beekeeper, and she loves honey!  Just another indicator that beekeeping is an easy activity which people from all walks of life can quickly grasp and consequently take up part-time.

Sunhive: The Biodynamic hive

first draft of the sun hive made in India

First draft of the sun hive made in India

Reminder: We are working with a biodynamic hive, called the Sun Hive, it was donated by the natural beekeeping trust from England.  I would like to thank them for arranging the transport of the Sunhive to India and in addition to the donors whose generosity made this possible.

The sun hive is normally made of long rye straw. In the valley, rice straw is abundantly available, and we have to make do with that.While it may look a bit less tidy, the principle remains the same. Our first Indian Sun hive is on its way. It may not be perfect right now, but it is surely headed that way.

Timeline 2012

9 Jan


Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, India

Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, India

The buzz began in Kotagiri with the able guidance of the Keystone foundation.

Cupid’s arrow struck me in the form of my first bee sting, and there was no looking back from there. I just knew what I wanted to do.

First meeting with Apis cerana introduced by Leo Robert

First meeting with Apis cerana introduced by Leo Robert

It was here that my interest in Indian honey bees came to life. During my time at the foundation I learnt the basic beekeeping practices and guidelines to follow.

My interaction with the Keystone foundation was crucial in developing my understanding of apiculture and best practices to follow whilst implementing the same.

Region of Araku valley

The scenic valley

After reading boatloads of documentation on honey bees we initiated our project in the emerald-green Araku Valley in A.P., with Naandi foundation. The Pollinator Project focuses on the domestication of the indigenous Asiatic honey bees Apis cerana.

The chief goal of the project is to train women farmers in various beekeeping methods and encourage other women to do the same.

July 2012 

10 First beneficiaries

The first 10 beneficiaries

5 villages from the area were selected to be a part of the Apiculture project. Each village has seen two horticulture farmers nominated.
10 farmers have been chosen for the job including 8 women. We distributed the first hive received from the good folks at the Keystone.

An happy beneficiary receiving her first hive

A happy beneficiary receiving her first hive

In addition to this we’re providing the selected apiculturists basic training and an understanding of how to go about beekeeping as efficiently as possible. We hope to see them imbibe the importance of honey bees in agriculture and embrace their role as pollinators.

August 2012

Training with one of our beekeeper

Training with one of our beekeepers

Only one of our new beekeepers was able to capture a colony and house them successfully in his hive. The others absconded, a common response for Indian bees.  The Indian monsoons are the worst season to capture a colony as the majority of the bees have migrated.

October 2012

Newton hive made by our local carpenter

Newton hive made by our local carpenter

A local carpenter has been trained to replicate the newton hive, the hive used by Indian bees.

November 2012

Sunshine returns, and along with it the honey bees make their way back! Hives are buzzing with activity. The beekeepers are in the process of completing their training.

We are teaching them how to extract wax from the old combs and make candles. Wax candles are a great source of light for them. They are cost-effective, natural and easy to make. In certain villages in the area (where electricity lines have not even been installed) even the light luminance of a candle can be of great use.

December 2012

First honey of Araku Region prepared by misses A.c

First honey of Araku Region prepared by misses A.c

The hives are being filled; the total stands at about 7 colonies now.

New beneficiaries are joining the activity of beekeeping. It’s encouraging to see the local women keenly seeking to learn about and practice apiculture.

Also our first hive had the super (honey portion) added to it, and in a matter of a couple weeks, it’s chock-full of honey.Our first harvest is just around the corner!

The Sun Hive

The Sun Hive

Saved the best for the last! The highlight of the month is the arrival of the first sun hive in India. The shape of the hive harmonizes with the movement patterns of the bee colony and enables the bees to design their brood nests according to their own innate criteria.