When you start talking to Vimaltai Vadvi, 32, you understand just how much she loves her new pets – the bees! In February 2015, one of her bee colonies “absconded” (flew away) from her beebox. “I didn’t get sleep that night”, she says. “They are like my family”.
Vimaltai is one of the 12 new women Master Trainers in Dhule from a NABARD-supported project, selected for their progressive beekeeping skills and keen interest in the activity. She receives advanced beekeeping training every 3 months, which equips her to look after her fellow beekeepers’ beeboxes in her tribal village of Mauchipada. With time and experience, she will go on to teach new beekeepers in UTMT’s new project villages.
Vimaltai took to beekeeping much faster than her peers. Her confidence has origins in her childhood years. She belongs to a family of traditional honey hunters, and as a child she often tagged along on forest trips to harvest honey from wild beehives. Exposed to bees from a young age, she has no fear of handling them unlike most other trainees who take time to adjust.
Her 2 beeboxes are kept in her guava orchard next to her house, where the family can keep a watchful eye. Vimaltai does the rounds every alternate day to make sure the bees are alright.
Vimaltai gives demos on beekeeping to other women when required. People enjoy watching her work, both adults and children alike! In this picture, she teaches how wax sheets should be fixed onto wooden frames of a beebox, for bees to quickly begin building honeycombs on.
At monthly Master Trainer meetings held in the local Beekeeping Resource Center, Vimaltai diligently reports on progress in her village, challenges faced and inputs from the community.
One of Vimaltai’s biggest strengths is her ability to deftly transfer bee colonies from the wild into a beebox. The technique requires precision and patience, and few develop the capability. Vimaltai along with two other similarly talented women, are now the go-to resource persons every time someone spots a bee colony in the village. Here, she searches for the queen bee in a newly filled beebox.
At another demonstration in a neighbouring village, wearing a protective bee veil.