IMPROVED DAMMER BEE REARING TECHNIQUE
Informal experimentation and innovation in agriculture have always taken place, driven by creativity, necessity, and opportunity. Farmers are a rich source of indigenous knowledge and practice. However, the knowledge and expertise of farmers have always been undervalued, and there has been little convergence between informal innovation and formal research and development systems.
Improved dammer bee rearing technique ,an innovation of Mr. Balan P, a bee farmer from Adoor taluk of Pathanamthitta district was documented as part of the project titled “ Documentation of farmers’ innovation in Pathanamthitta district” supported by Sate Planning Board, Dept. of Agriculture, Kerala, which aimed to improve farmers’ living environment and generate awareness about their knowledge and creativity through effective documentation and dissemination of their innovations.
Dammer bees are stingless bees. Stingless bees are small ( a few mm in length) and resident species which nest among boulders, old walls, dead tress and tree cavities. The honey produced by Trigona sp. is highly medicinal and it has very good market demand. It is about 20 times costlier than the honey produced by other bees. Usually dammer bees are grown in earthen pots, tube like cage made out of two halves of a bamboo pole, two wooden electric switch boxes fixed on one another etc.in the form of a box.In all these types of cages, the openings are fixed by the bees with a strong and stiff material called propolis. Hence dammer bees need to be reared in light, heat and air current proof ideal cage. Many a times earthen pots are damaged while being opened for honey collection or colonization and also complete extraction is not possible. The remains of residual oozing of honey attracts ant like insects into the pot or cage and result in forced expel of bees from the pot/cage.
Improved dammer bee box is an innovation , where in regular monitoring of the colony is possible. The improved dammer bee box is made up of wood of 1.5 cm thickness, 23.5 cm length, 16.5 cm breadth and 11.5 cm height. Thick paper rims placed 1.5 cm below from the top and 1.5 cm above from the bottom portion of the box has made the box light, heat and air current proof. The paper rim is used for camouflaging the bees. Paper rim on the top portion has two halves, which can be opened like a window without any gap. On this paper rim, a rectangle piece of thick paper sheet is placed, on which the upper lid is placed. All these make the upper part of the box light, heat and air current proof. In the bottom portion, beneath the paper rim, a rectangular sheet of thick paper of the size suitable to the inside of the box is placed. Below the paper sheet, a wooden door of 1.5 cm thickness is placed, which slides on a groove to one side of the box. Through this portion the extraction of honey and bee colony from the box can be undertaken.
This box is placed on a wooden frame and the wooden frame is attached to GI pipe stand fitted with plastic kernel, which act as antwell and prevent entering of ant like
insects inside the box. The box and stand are detachable, rotatable so that the box can be placed in a desired direction. The top lid of the box is provided with detachable roofing to overcome seasonal changes.
By this improved dammer bee box the two major problem namely incomplete honey extraction and improper colonization could be minimized up to a great extent
One can harvest up to 700 gm of honey/box, where as only 400 gm honey extraction is possible through other rearing methods. The complete set including box, bee colony costs Rs. 3500. The life span of the box is 10 years.. 700 gm honey fetches Rs. 1400.From a colony one can make 4 more colonies. The Cost/ colony is Rs. 1000. Hence a in the first year, profit of Rs. 5400/ box, which fetches 1.5: 1 B.C ratio. In consecutive years the expenditure is almost negligible .Only family labour is required for rearing and the cost of extra labour is nil. The rearing process is easy, gender friendly and eco-safe. Through this box regular monitoring of the colonies is possible unlike in contemporary rearing techniques.
At present he is earning Rs. 39,000 in 3 months ( Rs. 13,000/month) by meeting Local, within state, Outside state and international demands. About 50 people have adopted this innovation and seeing the success many people from within and outside state have approached him for the box.