Mr. Milind Khanvilkar and his wife Mrs. Mrunal Khanvilkar, who stay in Kherdi, a small village in Dapoli Taluka, have been doing great work of protection of honey bees for the past 10 years.
Nowadays people have been making the use of pesticides and chemicals (pest control)to get rid of the big honey combs hanging on the walls of buildings or in house corners. Sometimes they are even burned completely. This not only results in the loss of honey, but also in death of thousands of honey bees. Hence, the Khanvilkars decided to take serious note of this problem and started a free of cost service to remove the honeycomb safely. In the past 10 years they have removed honey combs and have saved lives of millions of bees. Here is an excerpt from an extensive interview we had with the couple to understand more about the work they do.
Q- Have you received a formal education about the work that you do (dealing with honey combs)?
“No, Never! Initially we had the same amount of information about honey bees that any layman would have. But then we studied on the subject and found out about the precautions to be taken & how to remove a honey comb & extract honey from it safely without causing any harm to the bees. Then we tried it practically for the first time which was a success. Our fear was lost and we befriended the bees.”
Q- What inspired your thoughts on honey bee protection?
“After deep diving into the information about honey bees and studying them, we realized as to why did Albert Einstein said that when all the honey bees will become extinct, the human race too will come to an end after a while. This is what inspired us to protect the bees.”
Q- Who are the natural predators of honey bees?
“Red ants, Yellow crazy ants (Ombil), Garden lizards and Hornets are some of the natural predators of Honey bees.”
Q- How do the honey bees function and how do they decide a place fit for building a honey comb.
“When we look at a honey comb, we can see a lot of honey bees on it; these are the worker bees. The worker bees are allocated with different chores. Some search for water, some for food, and some maintain cleanliness in the comb, while some are lookouts and soldiers. But all the bees have a common task, i.e., the protection of their queen. The queen is a bit different from other bees and a lot bigger in size too. Her task is to lay eggs and proliferation of honey bees. The queen bee can lay up to a 100 eggs at one go. The task of nursing and feeding the newborns is given to the worker bees too; that is why the comb is always built where there is abundance of food and water(the bees need very clean water to drink, that is why wherever there is a honey comb, there is bound to be a clean source of water).”
Q- How many species of Honey bees are there?
“In India we have many species of honey bees like Apis Serena Indiaca, Apis Mellifera, Trigona Iridipennis, Apis Florea, Apis Dorsata.”
Q- What is the most quick and effective remedy for a honey bee sting?
“In case of a honey bee sting, immediately rub slaked lime on it for instant relief.”
Q- Why is protecting the honey bees so important?
“First of all, if the honey bees don’t survive, the food chain will disrupt. Secondly, honey bees have a great contribution in a healthy agriculture. The honey that the bees produce has great medical applications. And as only the bees can produce that, we won’t get it if they become extinct. Hence, the protection of honey bees is extremely necessary.”
Q- What are the reasons behind decrease in the population of honey bees?
“From deforestation to use of chemical insecticides and pesticides to erection of mobile towers, all are responsible for the decrease in population of honey bees.”
Q- How much support do you get for this noble deed?
“To be honest there are many who support us and assist us, but our kids (even at such a young age) are our biggest support and fortunately, they too have the same affinity towards this work as we do.”
The work done by the Khanvilkars is really worth appreciating. They try to create public awareness about this topic as much as they can. But it is very important that the society takes heed of the awareness created, because, unless the numbers of honey bee friendly people don’t rise, the population of honey bees won’t increase either.
Watch this video to see the process of honeybee harvesting