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Come winter, Kashmiri beekeepers keep their date with Rajasthan, Punjab

SRINAGAR, OCT 19: With winter setting in, the Kashmiri beekeepers have started shifting to Rajasthan and Punjab to escape from harsh cold and to keep their bees healthy.

For centuries, the people of Kashmir have relied on honey production as a significant source of income and sustenance. The honey produced in the valley is renowned for its quality and flavour, making it a valuable commodity in the local markets.

However, the harsh winters of Kashmir, with their extreme cold and heavy snowfall, pose a significant threat to the survival of the honeybees. To protect their hives and ensure the continuity of their beekeeping heritage, these beekeepers pack up their bees and hives and embark on a journey that spans hundreds of miles.

“We start our journey in the third or fourth week of October. The hives are transported on trucks or other suitable vehicles, and sometimes even by foot,” said a 45-year-old bee keeper Farooq Ahmad from Pampore. He said he will leave for Rajasthan in the next week.

He said the beekeepers and their families, along with their companions, journey to the warmer regions of Rajasthan and Punjab, where the climate is more favourable for the bees.

“Once we arrive in Rajasthan we set up our hives in orchards and fields. Here, the bees can continue to forage for nectar and pollen, as the milder climate allows them to remain active. The beekeepers provide supplementary feeding to the bees and regularly check the hives to ensure their well-being,” said another beekeeper Bashir Ahmad from Hazratbal.

During the winter months, when Kashmir is blanketed in snow, these beekeepers become a part of the communities they temporarily call home in Rajasthan and Punjab.

According to official figures, Jammu and Kashmir is producing 70 tonnes of honey annually. Thousands of families are directly or indirectly dependent on honey production.

The honey produced by these dedicated beekeepers is not just a source of income but also a symbol of resilience and cultural heritage.

Beekeepers in the Kashmir Valley use traditional and modern beekeeping hives, instrumental in boosting agricultural productivity as they are known to be natural pollinators for a range of fruits and crops.

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