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Master Trainer Success Story

Master Trainer Vimal Dilip Vadvi
Mauchipada village, Sakhri block, Dhule district, Maharashtra

Vimaltai’s story is an exceptional one. She is probably one of UTMT’s first ever woman beekeepers to transfer bees single-handedly from the wild into beeboxes. It is this unique ability that catapulted her into the league of Junior Master Trainers just 2 months after undergoing training under the NABARD supported beekeeping programme in February 2015. The programme, started in December 2013, is focused on improving the livelihoods of 1,000 women from WSHGs (Women Self Help Groups) in Dhule and Dang.

 

Vimaltai’s self-confidence has origins in her childhood. She belongs to a family of traditional honey hunters, and as a child often accompanied her parents on trips to harvest wild honey from forest beehives. Having been exposed to bees from a very young age, she has no fear of them, unlike most of her fellow village women. She, alongwith 2 other women trainees, began catching bees and filling them in beeboxes independently, after watching UTMT staff demonstrate the process just twice. Even UTMT’s Technical Assistant Chabildas Jadhav, an old hand at beekeeping, expressed amazement on hearing about their actions. “In all my years of teaching both men and women farmers, I have never come across any one who has been able to successfully start after only two demonstrations.”

 

She has performed 4 Natural Colony Transfers(NCTs) single handedly while 7 more were done alongwith 3 fellow trainees. She tries to keep fellow trainees involved by encouraging them to accompany her on NCTs, as some are reluctant to venture out on their own while others have yet to overcome their fear. Vimaltai’s love for bees becomes apparent as soon as she starts speaking. “The past one week has been all about bees, many colonies were found nearby. People in the village now know that I and 3 other women are good at filling bees in boxes. When they spot a colony, they promptly inform us. That’s when I gather the other women and go to conduct the NCT”. She says she has been so busy that her family often pulls her leg, ”Don’t you have any other work to do, other than going after bees?”. UTMT staff Dhanshree vouches for her proactive attitude, “She is great at mobilizing people fast, and makes sure she does not lose the chance to fill a box as soon as a colony is found.”

 

During one NCT,Vimaltai was stung multiple times which led to a high fever that did not subside for 2 days. She was compelled to travel to Pimpalner town 45 minutes away to take an injection, which helped bring the fever under control. Far from feeling intimidated, she continues to head off on NCTs when called upon, and proudly recounts the fever episode. It takes her between 1 to 2 hours to conduct an NCT. Thereafter, maintaining the beebox takes 15 minutes each week, and is usually done in a group of 3-4 people so that all can see and learn while recalling maintenance instructions of the UTMT staff. “After checking a beebox, I phone Dhanshree to update her of our findings and also to understand why the bees are behaving in certain way. Once, we saw many bees clustered on the stand below. Witnessing the phenomenon for the first time, we were concerned this could be a sign of absconding, hence quickly phoned Dhanshree who explained that this is normal bee behavior when the temperature inside the box gets too hot. She guided us in placing a wet cloth over the box for cooling effect.”Vimaltai feels there is a lot more to learn in beekeeping, and wants to understand bee behavior in different seasons and situations, something that she will learn in due course during the special Master Trainer trainings held quarterly by UTMT.

Vimaltai doesn’t feel like her new livelihood interferes in her daily routine. She adjusts her schedule as needed and manages the farm and household chores. Her husband is supportive, and sometimes even joins her on NCTs as he is keen to learn the skill. Vimaltai had 2 beeboxes of her own, 1 of which absconded. Deeply distressed, she could not sleep the following night. The remaining box is kept in her father’s Jamphal (Guava) orchard next to her home, as her family members live nearby and can keep a watchful eye. The bees in this box were divided during the division season, by a technical process demonstrated by Mr. Jadhav. This was the first time she saw and learned how a new colony can be created by an alternative method, apart from familiar NCTs.

 

At the same demo, she was thrilled to see honey in the honeycomb but it was too small a quantity to be extracted at the time. She eagerly awaits the day she will be able to do so. Vimaltai aims to fill the first batch of 50 beeboxes belonging to her village as soon as possible. Once this is completed, she is all set to take on the next 50. That way, each farmer will have 2 buzzing beeboxes. Simultaneously, furthering her knowledge on new aspects of beekeeping is on the cards. Vimaltai embodies the qualities we at UTMT hope every woman beekeeper will develop fearlessness, confidence, and a proactive approach.