Honey collection – climate change affecting the livelihood of tribal people of Wayanad – Kerala

A heavy fall in the blooming of flora in the Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary (WWLS) and adjacent forests, owing to untimely rain, has drastically reduced Wayanad’s honey output, jeopardising the livelihood of tribal people. Climate change has brought down the number of honey hives by nearly 70 per cent this season, according to P. Madhavan, tribal chieftain of Ponkuzhy Kattunayakka colony in the sanctuary.

The total procurement of wild honey in the Sulthan Bathery Scheduled Tribe cooperative society at Kallur, a major wild honey procuring outlet in the State, came down by 88.06 per cent this year. […] Such a huge drop in procurement was a first in the 30-year history of the society, he added.

V. Kesavan, president, Kerala State Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribe Cooperative Federation, an apex body of the tribal cooperative societies in the State, said that all the 32 tribal societies under the federation reported a heavy drop in wild honey procurement. Tribal people, especially the Kattunayakka tribes in the forests, will be the worst-hit as collecting honey is the main source of their income in the monsoon season

The honey harvesting season is from April to September. As April approaches, the Kattunayaka men will begin preparations for their  treasure-hunt’ in the deep forests. Wild honeybees make hives every year on the same trees, which the tribal people call ‘honey trees’. They spend more than a week in the forests to collect honey. The honey is collected only at night.

The flowering and frutescent stage of trees in the sanctuary is important in the production of honey. Climatic change might adversely affect frutescent stage and lead to decline in honey production, Anilkumar, Director of M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here, said. The bees collect nectar mainly from the different species of Terminalia (Maruthu ) trees inside the forest and  honey production is primarily dependent on the blooming of this tree, he added.

Source: “Honey gets a taste of climate change” by E.M. Manoj (The Hindu, Kalpetta, 25 August 2010)
Address : https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/article593971.ece
Date Visited: 1 December 2020

Climate change dents honey yield from Western Ghats ranges

Unseasonal showers, seen by experts as an early sign of climatic change, has resulted in sharp fall in honey production in the forest ranges of the Western Ghats, a major source of natural as well as cultured honey in the country.

Heavy summer showers caused largescale fall of blooming flowers in the Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary (WWLS) and adjacent areas last season depriving bee colonies of the nectar leading to collapse of bee colonies.

While honey collected from hives atop trees in the deep forest forms a major chunk of annual income for tribals, apiculture is a source of supplementary income for medium, small and marginal farmers here, whose hopes have been dashed by climate change.

The honey from Wayanad, especially that collected from forest, enjoys high demand from medicine and food industry on account of their high quality.

Total procurement of wild honey by the Sulthan Bathery Scheduled Tribe Co-operative society , a leading honey procuring agency, recorded a huge decline of 88.06 per cent this year. […]

This was for the first time that such a huge fall in honey procurement was recorded since the co-operative was formed 30 years ago, he said.

According to V Kesavan, president of the Kerala State Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Cooperative Federation, the apex body of the tribal co-operatives, the availability all the 32 tribal societies in Kerala recorded a sharp fall in wild honey collection this year.

The decline in honey production has made the lives of the tribal people miserable as collection of honey is their main source of livelihood for them in the monsoon season, Tribal welfare workers said.

The honey harvesting season in Wayanad stretches from April to September. At the outset of the season tibal men, especially “Kattunayakas”, start preparing for their treasure-hunt deep in the forest.

Their folk knowledge, familiarity with the terrain and ability to withstand the ordeal make the Kattunayakas good honey collectors.

Bees tend to make hives on  the same trees every year, which the tribal people call ‘honey trees.’

The honey collectors spend more than a week in the forests to harvest honey, which is not a sweet job as often they have to suffer not just single stings but dangerous attacks by drones.

Honey is collected only during night as that is the traditional method, said Madhavan, who has been part of honey-harvesting band for long years said.

“When we set out to the forest this year what we saw was heaps of perished nectar bearing flowers lying scattered,” Madhavan, head of Kattunayaka settlement at Ponkuzhy said. […]

Rock bees (apis dorsata), Indian little bees (apis florea), sting-less bees (of the trigona species) and the common honey bees (apis cerana indica) are the ones seen in Wayanad and the adjacent forests , a senior entomologist of the Horticultural College here said.

Source: Climate change dents honey yield from Western Ghats ranges (Deccan Herald, 13 December 2011)
Address : http://www.deccanherald.com/content/101798/climate-change-dents-honey-yield.html
Date Visited: Tue Dec 13 2011 10:39:16 GMT+0100 (CET)

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