“a journey from honey importing to honey exporting,”
Honey Production is a very useful business in Pakistan. Honey production and beekeeping are environmentally friendly practices. These non-framing business activities have the potential to provide a wide range of economic contributions. Additional benefits from beekeeping are associated with the purely biological nature of bee activities, such as plants pollination and conservation of nature flora.
PARC has practically promoted beekeeping with Apis mellifera in the country. Several attempts were made for introduction of A. mellifera by various scientists from 1927 to 1976 but without any success. However, after 16 unsuccessful attempts, PARC took this challenging job and during 1977 imported some honeybee A. mellifera colonies as package bees from Australia. Out of these some were multiplied at research stations and few were given to progressive beekeepers associated with indigenous honeybee at that time. In this way PARC was succeeded in introducing this species and traditional beekeeping switched to beekeeping A. mellifera in Langstroth modern beehives and most of the beekeepers are now getting optimum results.
PARC has practically promoted beekeeping with Apis mellifera in terms of colony management, queen breeding, honey extraction techniques, reduction in post-harvest losses, nutrition, pests and diseases and pollination of entomophilous crops, improving skills of beekeepers, wax recycling for wax foundation sheets through training to agricultural extension staff, beekeepers, universities, research institutes and technical training institutes. At present scenario, there are 450,000 colonies of this species and honey production increased tremendously. However, carrying capacity of floral source has potential of many times. This is the success story of PARC for the establishment of this specie in the country.
PARC has introduced high-value products i.e. Royal jelly, Pollen and Bee Wax. PARC has trained over 10,000 farmers, beekeepers, honey traders, extension workers throughout the country. Due to the efforts of PARC, Pakistan is producing more than 12, 000 Metric Ton honey annually and exported 0.504 million kg worth Rs. 528 million in the year 2015-16.
PARC has gained many scientific research achievements in the field of Apiculture, among which, there are successful introduction and domestication of European honey bee Apis mellifera in Pakistan. Due to PARC efforts, number of Apis mellifera hives has increased upto 0.45 million in Pakistan, AJK, and tribal Areas and beekeeping has attained the status of cottage industry in Pakistan. By transferring modern beekeeping Technology regarding management of honeybees average honey production increased now up to 25-28 kgs per hive as compared to 4-5 kg in 1980 per annum. PARC successfully devised the mechanism for management of ectoparasitic mitesvarroa destructor and Tropilaelaps clareae of honeybees. Devised and providing Pollen traps, Hornet Traps, Wax foundation sheets, Mite capturing Trays and honey testing field kits, low cost comb foundation press to beekeepers and other stakeholders from all provinces. HBRI introduced honeybees as effective pollinators of crops to farmers and also awared them how they can conserve these pollinators for higher yields also gave Pollinators’ policy document to Govt. About 10000 men and women have been trained up till now regarding modern beekeeping.
PARC took initiative of quality organic honey production from Margalla Hills with the collaboration of Capital Development Authority (CDA) recently a tasty brand of MARGALLAH Honey was introduced in Islamabad first time in the history of Pakistan by PARC which is very useful for the residents of Islamabad / Rawalpindi especially for allergy patients.
PARC has introduced export quality ber (Sider) and Kalonji honey first time in Pakistan. Pakistan is now producing best quality Honey despite the fact that beekeeping industry is facing a number of problems. Honey extracted from the tree of berry and from plant of Kalonji is the best but pathetically the trees of ber are being cut down in Chakwal, Karak, Mianwali, Attock districts which is a very discouraging sign for the industry. The demand of Honey in international market particularly in Gulf is manifold higher than the present supply. For increase in the production, he called for the plantation of ber plants in open places to provide feeding for the bees is the need of time. In this connection, especial stress must be given on the active role of forest and agriculture departments. The cutting of berry trees is going on without any check and if it is not stopped, the business of honey would be badly affected
Pakistan’s Potential Beekeeping is a profitable business in Pakistan. About 7,000 beekeepers are now rearing exotic species, Apis mellifera in the modern beehives. Congenial climate conditions and bee flora in the country provide excellent opportunities for the expansion of beekeeping. Honeybee flora is present on vast areas in all the provinces including Northern areas, FATA and AJK and can support more than 1,000,000 honeybee colonies. With the expansion of beekeeping industry several persons are getting self-employment as commercial beekeepers, for their livelihoods. Honey Production is proposed to be located at areas where wild plantation and crop farming is common. In Punjab, Chakwal, Mianwali, Attock, Sargodha, Duska are ideal places for honey bee farming, while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karak, Kohat, Swat and Bannu, Chitral are most suitable. In Balochistan Quetta, Ziarat valley, Naseerabad, and Kalat. In Sindh a few areas of Thatta, Sujawal, Mirpur Khas, Hyderabad and Gularchi area respectively are suitable for honey production as per discussion with experts. Other than honey, products of the hive can enhance the income of beekeepers because processing of these products are comparatively higher than honey Royal Jelly Rs.30,000/-per kg, Pollen Rs.2000/-kg Propolis Rs.1000/-kg, and beeswax Rs.1100/-kg in international market. Four species of honeybees are found in Pakistan. Three are indigenous and one is imported and established in Pakistan. The indigenous species are Apis dorsata, Apis cerana, and Apis florea. The occidental species is Apis mellifera.
Standards of honey Pakistani Honey standards are not yet in the position to export in the European Markets because of their strict standards of food safety. Many independent organizations are working to improve their standards (HACCP, ISO, etc Certifications) to export where food safety regulation are very strict but Pakistan is far behind to those standards. Some organizations like Shah farms, Islamic shahed, Salman’s, Young’s Food, are processing and strive to meet the standards, they are also providing services for the processing of honey. Pakistani exporters mostly rely on Middle East Market but its share is small.
Pakistan is producing high quality of Honey specially berries honey, Pakistan embraces different climatic zones and ecologies, from sea level to lofty mountains with wide diversity in kind of soils, temperature, sunshine, rainfall, wind velocity, altitude and also blessed with rich fauna and flora. The flora includes citrus, acacia, clover, ber, loquat, shain, kalongi, mosquite, sheesham, sunflower rape and mustard in different ecological areas in the country. Besides this 160,000 hectare of mangroves plantation in the coastal belt is another potential honey source which is yet to be explored. Northern areas of Pakistan are prime source of Apis cerana. This species is confined to hills and foothills of Pakistan. Congenial climate conditions and bee flora in the country provide excellent opportunities for the expansion of beekeeping industry. Honeybee flora is present on vast areas in all the provinces including. With the expansion of beekeeping industry several families (about 27000) are getting self-employment as commercial beekeepers, for their livelihoods.
Demand for honey products in international and local markets is increasing day by day, with also significant increase in prices. By installing proper technology the production and quality of the honey may be improve. PATCO Agro Tech Company of, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) also contributes in the marketing of honey and honey products to local marketing and also to the end user.
Dr. Rashid Mahmood, Director Honeybee Research Institute (HBRI), NARC
Muhammad Khalid Rafique, Scientific Officer, HBRI, NARC