Nilackal Bee Garden—a youngster’s endeavour to spread the word about the importance of honey bees
Morgan Freeman made international headlines after he converted his 124-acre ranch in the US into a bee sanctuary. Closer to home, we have a similar inspiring tale of a millennial apiculturist from Chittar in Pathanamthitta district who has taken up conservation efforts.
“Beyond the fascination with how honeybees build their combs, their role in the pollination process intrigued me. So, when my shift as an electrical engineer afforded me some time, I started beekeeping,” says Anoop Baby Sam.
Starting with just 10 boxes in 2014, he currently has 150 honey bee and 80 stingless bee colonies and also induces aspiring young entrepreneurs into beekeeping in his role as the district secretary of the Federation of Indigenous Apiculturists.
Anoop’s success story has definitely had its setbacks. Despite his initial attempt becoming a loss, he persevered in his pursuit and sought out courses at Khadi and Village Industries Board to start anew. He also travelled to places like Thrissur and Kannur to interact with experienced apiculturists.
“Over time, I figured that one doesn’t even need a lot of investment or own farmland to get into this,” says the 28-years-old, who makes value-added products like gooseberry in honey under the Nilackal Bee Garden banner.
Of late, he has also taken up the role of an educator, encouraging farm visits from students and corporate groups alike.
“Our education system is mostly limited to books. But, many students have skills outside professional jobs and we can expose them to more options to help find their vocation,” informs Anoop, who facilitates various experiences for visitors including honey harvesting and also a chance to experience their forest ecosystem without additional charges.
Anoop welcomes visitors including families from cities like Kochi to familiarise youngsters to beekeeping. So, the question is, can hobbyists from metropolitan areas take this up? “Unlike honeybees, stingless bees collect from tiny flowers. So, if you have flowering plants in the vicinity, even people living in apartments can try apiculture,” explains Anoop, adding that these bees don’t need as much care as the bigger species.