Highway Closure: Honey bees dying at an alarming rate


NEYAZ ELAHI

Srinagar, Apr 9: Local beekeepers say honey bees are dying at an alarming rate during halt of traffic on Kashmir highway to facilitate movement of army convoys.

The local and non-local beekeepers urged upon the Governor Administration to stave off this disaster and save their industry that is the source of income for thousands of people living in Kashmir and outside state.

There are at least 2000 beekeepers in Kashmir who do their business in Jammu, Samba, Punjab, UP, Rajhstan and other areas of India. Similarly, beekeepers from Punjab, Utrakhan, Haryana and other parts do business in Kashmir. Usually, beekeepers from Kashmir doing business outside arrive with honeybees’ colonies in 5000 loaded trucks in April.

The halt of traffic on highways has turned out to be the biggest nuisance for these beekeepers. Noor Muhammad who heads Beekeepers Association and ‘Valley Apiaries Food Products told news agency CNS that bees survive under a particular temperature (70 Degree Celsius) inside a truck and when this truck halts for more than hours, the extra temperature kills the colonies of bees.

“An average of 25 percent of bee colonies died following the highway closure ‘diktat’. The death of bees at an alarming rate at highways inside the trucks has threatened our livelihood. The colonies have deteriorated so badly that some beekeepers may not be able to carry on,” he said.

Noor Muhammad believes that the ban on the civilian traffic movement on Wednesday (tomorrow) will surely add to the toll. “Traffic is supposed to move from Jammu to Srinagar on Wednesday-the day when highway will remain closed. There will be more deaths and it will add to our frustration,” he said.

“We are at a turning point with our political situation and we are going to pay a dear price for this and that will come very soon,” he added.

Government of India a couple of days back imposed a blanket ban on the movement of civilian traffic on Kashmir highways from Udhampur to Baramulla twice a week-Sunday and Wednesday to facilitate the movement of army convoys.

The move has disrupted the business and other activities and it has not untouched the beekeeping industry as well. 

“If we lose the honey bee well, we lose the best things that we eat,” said Ajaz Ahmed, another beekeeper.

He said on the one hand government is organizing workshops and launching schemes to give a boost to this industry but on the other, it is seeking pleasure in watching the silent death of beekeeping business.