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Manishaben Birar’s journey of indigenous beekeeping

Manishaben Birari lives in Jamlapada village in the densely forested, tribal district of Dangs, Gujarat. She learned beekeeping in 2015. Manishaben confesses being very sceptical initially, observing her fellow trainees from afar for 6 months before deciding to give it a go.
Today, with 4 beeboxes in her orchard and a 7 fold increase in jackfruit yields, she is a happy beekeeper. She is amazed at the jackfruits – from 5 fruits till 2015, to 35 in 2016, it erased her scepticism about bees’ importance in agriculture.

 

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Fun-filled session on bees with children

We took a fun-filled session on bees with the Cathedral & John Connon Infant School this week. What an enthusiastic, clever bunch of children! They knew more about bees and pollination than many grown-ups we’ve interacted with ?  Everyone especially enjoyed dancing the “bee dance” at the end! A big Thank You to the Headmistress, teachers and parents for having us over, we had a great time.

Engrossed with the “Bee Song”

Bee Song

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Rhea from UTMT asking who love mangoes, strawberries, apples, and more!

Rhea from UTMT

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Let’s do the bee dance together!

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A little one thrilled to be a happy yellow flower for awhile!

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Bee friendly Initiatives

A new initiative we piloted this monsoon, was distributing native, bee friendly flora to beekeepers. It aims to achieve two goals : ensure enough food for bees in the dearth season when flora is typically less in the surroundings, and increase agricultural yields overall per household.

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UTMT Presenting to M.P State Government

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Sujana Krishnamoorthy, UTMT’s Executive Director and Saurabh Vaity, Programme Associate, recently presented our work to the Madhya Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission (MP-SRLM) in Bhopal.

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The presentation generated a buzz among the district livelihood teams present, several of them learning about beekeeping for the first time.

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The event was an important step in our efforts to expand beekeeping to more districts in M.P, with support from the state government.

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92 people from 23 districts in M.P attended over the course of two days.

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Social Story – When RBL Bank interns visited us

One a hot June day, 32 management interns from RBL Bank visited our Valsad project villages to understand our work with small farmers and bees. RBL Bank supports the project here, and the interns received a first-hand view of the program’s objectives and progress made on various fronts.
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The group excited to begin field activities assigned by Dhara Patel, UTMT team leader Gujarat in the Beekeeping Resource Centre, Tutarkhed village
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Weighing and packing seeds of niger (an oilseed) and til (sesame), for distribution before the monsoons set in. The additional flora will serve as additional food for bees.
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Sesame seeds packed and ready to go!
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Fascinated to see bees up close
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An intern bravely volunteers to check a frame
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Lunch is served! – khichdi, brinjal vegetable, fresh mango-onion salad finished with deliciously sweet, ripe mangoes plucked from a beekeeper’s tree
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For the love of mangoes!
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Wall writing on a beekeeper’s house – “I am a beekeeper” – stenciled by the group
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Christina Kinny, UTMT Mumbai, presents Thank You notes to the teams
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Digging a mud pile around a mud-hive, to protect it from flooding during rains
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Social Story: Dedicated Volunteer & Beekeeper

UTMT’s most passionate volunteer and beekeeper, Mahadevan, interacted with kids at Ascend International School, Mumbai about bees and their significance in our ecosystem. The kids had a wonderful morning, imitating the bees’ waggle dance and asking lots of curious questions!

Thank you Maha, for all the tireless support you smilingly lend to UTMT 🙂

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Kiddie Bee Talk

UTMT recently visited Ascend International School, to educate and familiarize young kids about bees and their importance in the environment. The children were intrigued, the message well received and the day was accompanied by a whole lot of fun!

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Social Story – The children in our project area

Our bee boxes attract audiences of all ages – especially children of beekeepers and their neighbours. On our trips, we often capture candid kiddie moments – some entertaining, some touching and others just plain cute!

Here are some heart warming pics of the innocent angels on our fields.

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Tug – o- War!

 

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Secret hiding place!

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Readying for honey extraction

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Already on her way to becoming a beekeeper

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Let’s Play

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Smallest member

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Swinging towards a bright future

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Bliss

 

 

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Social Story: Our UTMT Champion

We have had a string of wonderful guests visit our rural project sites recently. In March, our Gujarat team hosted Mr. Martin Kunz – an accomplished, passionate beekeeper and fairtrade expert from the United Kingdom. Mr Kunz has been an enthusiastic UTMT supporter and provides valuable inputs from his many decades long career in the sector. Keen to learn about the impact of UTMT’s work, he interacted extensively with the beekeepers and UTMT staff, comparing and contrasting beekeeping practices with those of other regions in India and the West.

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At Tutarkhed village in Valsad district, a group of women beekeepers chats with Mr Kunz and his wife, with UTMT’s Gujarat team leader Dhara Patel translating along the way.

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Photographing the bees!

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Getting a close-up of the honey extraction process, aided by Master Trainers Madhubhai and Manilalbhai

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Thrilled to see UTMT’s latest experimental initiative – mud hives built using locally available raw materials. If successful, it will keep the hive cool in scorching summer months and help reduce starter kit costs.

We are very grateful to count Mr. Kunz as one of UTMT’s champions!

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Social Story: Mud Hives Training

Experimenting with new techniques, team UTMT recently learned to make mud hives and wall hives. These were explored as alternatives to the wooden beeboxes currently used to house our Apis cerana bees.
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Women trainees in Dhule learning to make a mud hive in a corner of a garden
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Comparison between a wooden beebox (LHS) and mud hive (RHS).

After completion, a mud hive will have the same eight wooden frames on which bees will begin building a honeycomb. With a shape and structure similar to a beebox, the mud hive closely replicates the internal environment bees are accustomed to living in. Using naturally available mud not only brings down raw material costs, it also helps maintain optimal temperature of the hive.
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Dhara Patel, Team Leader, Gujarat, gets her hands dirty
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A “wall hive” being made. (LHS) Work in progress and (RHS) the finished product. Basically it is a mud hive affixed into the wall of the village house. Through the wooden “door” on the front side, beekeepers open the structure to check on their bees.
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Technical Assistant Madhubhai Bhoya from Gujarat teaches women beekeepers construction of a mud hive.
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It’s time for a trainee to practically apply Madhubhai’s teaching