Posts

23

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
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Amla UTMT Honey Shot

Amla honey shot, the sour indian gooseberry and UTMT tulsi honey – this is definitely a match made in heaven! star anise contributes a faint but appreciable aroma and flavour to the drink. Remember not to add too much star anise lest it steals the show without letting the other ingredients to shine.

 

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Glass used: shot glass

Method

  1. Combine the indian gooseberry, indian gooseberry crush, staranise powder and 1½ cups of water in a mixer and blend till smooth. Strain the liquid and keep aside.
  2. Combine the strained liquid and UTMT Tulsi honey and mix well in a mixing glass.
  3. In each shot glass, place 1 tbsp of crushed ice and pour equal quantity of the juice over it. Serve immediately garnished with a staranise on the rim of each glass.

Source: Tarla Dalal

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UTMT Technical Assistant – Chabildas Jadhav

Chabildas Jadhav, 37, is UTMT’s most experienced Technical Assistant, having risen through the ranks from beekeeper, over 6 years. Hailing from Kopurli village in Nasik, he is a crucial part of the Maharashtra field team, travelling to new project villages in neighbouring districts to teach new farmers how to beekeep.

Chabildas also mentors the new bunch of Master Trainers from Maharashtra’s project areas, delivering trainings with little supervision.

We look forward to many more years of Chabildas’ expert guidance!

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One of the most progressive beekeepers in the fold, Chabildas constantly looks for new ways to expand his operations. He was the first to experiment with renting his beeboxes to pomegranate farmers in Nasik for pollination, an exercise that met with big success and led to demand for beeboxes from other pomegranate farmers.

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 Speaking of yield improvements in his own crops, he says the most notable is his gourds – a 40% increase, tremendous improvement in quality and a shorter flowering to fruiting period. Here he is seen taking Vijaya Pastala, founder of UTMT, to see the beeboxes

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Inspecting a bee colony closely
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Seated under a small mango tree, with a beebox and a honey extractor, Chabildas explains honey extraction to Master Trainer Tukaram before beginning the process.
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Teaching a batch of women beekeepers the ropes
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Discussing with fellow beekeepers their experiences and plans for expansion
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Social Story – Hemraj Maskole, Master Trainer

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Hemraj Maskole, 30, is one of UTMT’s most promising Master Trainers from the first batch of beekeepers in Madhya Pradesh. Hailing from the small forested hamlet of Padav in Hoshangabad district, Hemraj is a progressive farmer who loves learning new things. Experimental by nature, he is often the first to practice new beekeeping innovations taught during UTMT’s advanced Master Trainer workshops.

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On a beekeeping exposure visit organized by UTMT to Uttaranchal in 2014, Hemraj learned about how a wooden queen gate (the entrance through which bees enter & exit a beebox) was more effective in summers than the commonly-used metal one.  Returning home, he set to work fashioning a wooden queen gate on his own. He proudly shows it off to whoever visits.

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For Hemraj, his bees are like his pets. He attentively tends to them in all seasons, practising every tip learned from UTMT staff. Here, he has religiously plastered his beeboxes with moist mud externally, to cool the hive in searing hot 45 degree summers

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Checking on his beeboxes in the rains, with the help of fellow farmers. He takes great pains to keep the box dry using basic, readily available local materials – building a straw shade and covering the top with a plastic sheet.

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In the last two years, Hemraj’s technical skills have developed so well, he has been given the responsibility of teaching trainees from new projects areas.

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Hemraj with his 4-year old daughter. His family have gotten used to the beeboxes outside their home, and enjoyed the honey harvested last season. Hemraj believes that the agricultural improvements he has seen are much greater than value from honey.

 

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Christmas Cake – Fig and Honey

This week we’re going to show you how our deliciously dark UTMT Wild Forest Honey can be used perfectly to create a rich Christmas cake!

You will need:

750g mixed dried fruit
100g blanched whole almond, roughly chopped
100g chopped peel
200g dried fig, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherry, well rinsed and quartered
300g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
zest 1 lemon
250g lightly salted butter
250g light sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp UTMT Wild Forest honey
1 tbsp black treacle
4 large egg
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp brandy

Procedure:

Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin first with a double layer of brown paper, then with a double layer of baking parchment. In a large bowl, mix the fruit, almonds, peel, figs and cherries. Turn well and add the flour, spices and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly, then add the vanilla extract, honey and treacle. Still beating, incorporate the eggs, then stir in the fruit and flour mixture. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and stir in thoroughly. Add the brandy by the spoonful, until you have a soft dropping consistency.

Turn the batter into the cake tin and make a dip in the middle using the back of a spoon. Bake for 3½ hrs, then insert a skewer – if it comes out clean, it’s ready. If there is any cake mix on the skewer, give it 10 mins more and test again. When it’s done, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in its tin. The next day, remove from the tin, wrap in fresh greaseproof paper, then put it into an airtight tin or wrap tightly in foil. The usual thing is to keep the cake for at least a month before icing it, and to unwrap and sprinkle it occasionally with more brandy.

Fig & honey Christmas cake

Source: BBC Good Food
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Tata Power CSR project – Women’s training at Jawhar

UTMT’s most recent CSR partnership with Tata Power in Jawhar, Maharashtra, scaled new heights in September.

Seeing their husbands keeping beeboxes for the past 10 months, the women in the community expressed interest in learning the skill too.

They felt they could pitch in maintaining the boxes when the men were away on work.

We were only too happy to conduct a training for the enthusiastic bunch of women who attended with their children.

Here’s are a few pictures from the CSR project –

Chintu Sathe, UTMT’s Master Trainer, breaks the ice with stories from his own 3-year beekeeping experience

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Theory lessons on the different kinds of honeybee species found in nature. The “students” diligently take notes

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Chabildas Jadhav, Senior Technical Assistant, points out the distinguishing features of honeybees’ combs through photographs. Most women are familiar with them, their families having lived in forests for generations

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Chintu takes a volunteer’s help to explain parts of a bee box and honey extractor

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Social Story – Carly’s Visit to the field

UTMT recently hosted young Carly Forcade, a final year student from Mount Holyoke College, U.S. Carly’s assignment focused on filming women farmer impact stories across UTMT’s projects in Maharashtra and Gujarat, which necessitated roughing it out in remote tribal villages. Carly counts the experience as an amazing one, it having helped her push her limits and recognize her adaptive capacities.

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 At the first location in Dhule, Maharashtra, with women beekeepers Sumantai, Sangeeta and Ripka.

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New beekeepers Ripka and Sangeeta eagerly view themselves on camera, in the courtyard of a house.

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Carly shows Sangeetatai and a few children, photos on her phone.

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Ripka, Carly and Sangeeta are all smiles at the end of the video shoot. This is the first time the beekeepers faced the camera for a video, they enjoyed being part of the process.

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She had some fun moments too – here she tries her hand at cleaning rice in Dakshaben’s home in Gujarat.

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One of the videos captured the women’s Self Help Group in Nanapada village of Dangs, Gujarat, which tailors swarm bags and bee veils needed to do beekeeping. At the end, Premilaben showed Carly how to work a sewing machine, much to her delight.

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Beekeeping with NABARD

Dangs (Gujarat) and Dhule (Maharashtra) rank among India’s most backward districts in a number of development indices due to high percentage of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste populations, low wages, and low productivity. UTMT’s collaboration with NABARD aims to improve the livelihoods of 1,000 WSHG (Women’s Self Help Group) women in these districts by training them in low–cost homestead beekeeping with the indigenous bee Apis cerana indica.

Nabard - logoThe pilot project, started in December 2013, focuses on women from local WSHGs (Women Self Help Groups) and is the first initiative in the country to take Apis cerana beekeeping to WSHGs. A formal inauguration ceremony was held in November 2014 in Sakhri block, Dhule, with the District Collector Dhule, NABARD DDM Dhule, and other district officials in attendance, which attracted much local attention.

Beekeeping trainings are underway at the village level, to familiarize trainees with bee box maintenance and bee behaviour across all seasons. It comprises an initial basic 2-day theory-cum-practical session where trainees are taught about types of honeybees, benefits of beekeeping and the technique of transferring bee colonies from the wild into a beebox. Thereafter, the UTMT team handholds the trainees through fortnightly follow-up visits at the farm gate and quarterly seasonal trainings at the village level.

The women have progressed steadily, participating in training sessions enthusiastically. Many have even begun independently transferring bees into boxes with minimal assistance, an especially skilled technique. Thirty two women showing special initiative have been selected to become “Master Trainers”, tasked with looking after all beeboxes within their village and reporting progress to the field staff. Master Trainers are crucial to the programme’s expansion. They undergo advanced beekeeping training at Master Trainer workshops, conducted by UTMT’s technical team. Four such intensive workshops have been held to date in Dangs and Dhule, with nearly full attendance. Monthly interactive Master Trainer meetings enable a review of progress, sharing on beekeeping issues faced and target setting for the next month.

DSCN0309Towards building a local “beekeeping ecosystem”, UTMT conducts activities that not only support the beekeeper but also serve as an income generating stream for non-beekeepers. These include beebox-making trainings with 5 carpenters, bee colony spotting trainings with cowherds and goatherds, and swarm bag/ bee veil tailoring sessions with 36 women. These micro-enterprises supply beekeeping inputs required to sustain a beekeeper. Three local Beekeeping Resource Centres (BRCs) have been set up under the project. They serve as hubs for skill trainings, storage of starter kits and inputs, Master Trainer meetings, and provision of technical services.
This project has been crucial in proving that beekeeping can be practiced very successfully by women in tribal communities. Their attention to detail, perseverance and evolved confidence with the activity are exemplary. With a full-fledged self-sustaining set-up operational, beekeeping in Dangs and Dhule is geared for expansion even after the project ends in 2016.

Vimaltai’s story, Dhule
Vimaltai 1Vimal Dilip Vadvi hails from a small village in Dhule, one of Maharashtra’s most backward tribal districts. She is among UTMT’s first woman beekeepers to master the technique of transferring bee colonies from nature into beeboxes. Her love for bees is apparent as she speaks: “People in the village now know that other women and I are good at filling bees into boxes. When they spot a colony, they promptly inform us and we rush to transfer the bees into their beebox”.
Even Technical Assistant, Chhabildas Jadhav expressed amazement at her skill. “In all my years of teaching both men and women farmers, I haven’t come across anyone who could successfully begin beekeeping after only two demonstrations”. Vimaltai has 2 beeboxes of her own and is excitedly waiting to extract honey in the upcoming honey flow seasons. She envisages 50 farmers in her village keeping 2 beeboxes each; which will increase their incomes through higher agricultural yields and sale of honey.

Vimaltai highlights the immense potential that every farmer has, to lift themselves from poverty with the help of a simple beebox.

IMG_6336DakshabenIMG_20150224_175740Sharmilaben

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Dang Baseline – June 2015

The Monitoring & Evaluation team here at UTMT have been busy bees these days! On the heels of the Dhule leg of the NABARD baseline study, a second baseline was recently conducted in Dang district of Gujarat, where UTMT is teaching beekeeping to women’s Self Help Groups with support from NABARD. 102 women across 10 village were surveyed in 6 days. It marks the first time UTMT has surveyed such a large number of beneficiaries, and the team worked very hard to meet the target in record time.

Photo-snippets from the field:

Some farmers are extremely shy, some less shy but still take time to open up, while others are chatty as ever from the start. This particular lady in Bhapkal village belonged to the second category. It took Program Associate Pradeep time to make her comfortable with the survey.
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The local dialect in Dang is Dangi, a mixture of Marathi and Gujarati. We relied on a pair of local college students to communicate with the community all through the survey. Here, the intern Dipesh explains a point made by the woman, to Rhea, Senior Program Officer who focuses on capturing the data in her notes.
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Program Associate Christina alongwith field staff Manilalbhai and an intern, listen while a trainee in Pimpri village explains about her experience with bees.
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The process often turns into an attraction for curious neighbours and passers-by, something the team is used to. Here in Bhapkal village, Dhara, Team Leader Gujarat (left) leads the discussion.
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The team often shares light moments, especially when they try to speak the local language. It becomes a source of much amusement to the community, like this time when Rhea tried to!
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Relaxing after a hard day’s work at at the famous Giradhod waterfall.
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Wild Forest Honey Iced Coffee

UTMT Wild Forest Honey Iced Coffee

Here’s a summer cooler that won’t take you more than 3 mins to prepare.

You would need – freshly brewed coffee (cooled)
5 ice cubes
UTMT Wild Forest Honey

Here’s how its done!

Stir 1 tbsp UTMT Wild Forest Honey in the cooled coffee
Place the ice cubes in a separate tall fancy glass
Pour the coffee mixture in the tall glass with ice cubes
Add half a tbsp. UTMT Wild Forest Honey as topping

Enjoy This Summer Drink with a Dash of Forest Mystique