A BBC article cites that bees pollinate 70 of 100 species of crops in the world that provide food to 90 per cent of its population. Quite simply, there is no “us” without the bees. With the increased concretisation requiring felling of trees, where else do you expect them to build their hives?
The world is losing its busiest pollinators at an alarming rate and all due to human encroachment and inhuman practices like spraying pesticides or smoking them out being used to tackle the “bee-menace.”
However, this year, a few NGV residents with Astrid Jaipaul, Sunitha Srinivasan and Lorna Lobo in the lead, decided that they had enough of such methods. Instead, they have found a way to relocate close to 20 beehives attached to their apartment building without harming the insects living in them.
“I come from a family which had a tea plantation in the Nilgiris and we had beehives at home. It broke my heart to see a carpet of dead bees lying on the floor after the beehives were removed by pesticide spray or driven away with smoke,” says Sunitha Srinivasan, speaking to The Better India (TBI).
The sight affected not only Sunitha but also several residents in her apartment building. Astrid Jaipal, another resident, luckily chanced upon Stephen who relocates bees safely. She had mentioned this person to Sunitha and Lorna.
“We got very excited, and called Stephen from Kaval Barisandra near RT Nagar, to see if he was capable of relocating these beehives. When we met him, we found him sincere. Subsequently, we took permission from Chetan Patel—the Secretary of the building. When we talk about a completely new method of relocating bees, you will initially have few takers,” says Sunitha.
“The three of us were told to try it with one hive. If it worked then Chetan was willing to go further. It worked for one hive. Having said that, because it’s a new method, a lot of residents were very skeptical. Secondly, it costs more than traditional pesticide spraying or smoking them out. We had to get the residents, who were interested in this venture, to contribute. Thankfully, we actually formed an online Bee Lovers Group, and they contributed too. The building also paid half the difference,” she adds.
Both Stephen and his colleague Khader access the bees from the top of the hive, and literally push them into plastic bags and then relocate them. The principle here is that if you captured the queen the rest would follow. Admittedly, some will fly away but the majority will follow suit.
“The process is also quite scary. They literally have to climb onto narrow ledges to access the bees. It’s a risky job and it’s hard to keep your cool when digging into the hive,” says Sunitha.
According to a Bangalore Mirror article on the same initiative, NGV residents spent more than Rs 20,000 on relocating more than the first 17 bee hives. These bees are then released some 10 km away possibly in some scrub jungle area.
You can watch this video to see how it all works below:
“Following the initial media buzz surrounding this initiative, the women behind the idea began receiving calls, emails and messages on their phone seeking guidance about non-harmful ways of relocating and saving bees. Through such initiatives, we can save a lot of bee life,” she adds.
The sight of bees usually heralds the advent of spring. Suffice it to say that this mnemonic is enough to highlight the phenomena of nature propagating itself via its busy minions. But it may not be far when these small yet vital beings for human survival go extinct.
“There are two major things I would like to tell people. One, bees do not attack unless they are provoked. Just killing them because you think they are going to attack you makes no sense. Obviously if you put your in hand into a hive or throw a ball there, they will attack you. Without bees, life would not exist,” concludes Sunitha.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)