Submitted by alvin on Sun, 2017-02-19 10:08 Bengaluru: The familiar buzzing of bees is no longer so familiar in Bengaluru. Experts say there are fewer bees and less number of hives these days, leading to a fall in the production of honey.According to Horticulture Department, Karnataka produced 700 metric tonnes of honey last year of which Bengaluru’s contribution was less than 10 percent.Dr Hemalatha, Assistant Director, Horticulture Department, says urbanisation and rise in motor vehicles are having an impact on honey bees. “Hence the reduction in honey production," she says. Echoing a similar view, Dr Kuberappa, Professor at the University of Agriculture Science, Hebbal, says rock bee or wild bees like to build combs in tall trees and high rise buildings. “Earlier, we would get 100 to 200 kilograms of honey every month, but now it has reduced," he says.Forming of residential layouts seems to be having an impact as well. G Raju, Proprietor, Karnataka Apiaries, says the honey Bengalureans were consuming 10 to 20 years ago came from Nilgiri flower (eucalyptus). “Bees use to thrive in Nilgiri grove on Bengaluru outskirts, but even those places are being converted as residential layouts. Now only rock bees are seen on tall buildings," he says.As a bee keeper and honey dealer, Raju says he used to get about 9 tonnes of honey every year but now he gets only 5 tonnes."Places like Hoskote, Turahalli forest in Bengaluru’s surroundings are potential areas for tapping honey,” says Raju. “From November to March, it will be a good yield as most of the plants and trees will flower. We place boxes and every 20 days we can extract 2 kilos of honey in these particular five months."Honey huntersHoney hunters from the North-East and from Nepal have also made Bengaluru as their home, as the city has many tall buildings.Suraj Singh, a honey hunter, says they get get at least 10 kgs of honey from each apartment complex. “We sell it for Rs220 kilo,” he says. “The service charge for taking out the honey comb is separate. We do not kill the bees, the queen bee and workers shift to other place and again generate honey in few months’ time."Life in a hiveIt is the responsibility of queen bee to lay eggs and worker bees help in their survival and preservation of honey. Queens live for an average of two to three years. A single queen lays thousands of eggs throughout her life span. Queens die very soon and the beekeepers find another queen frequently.Worker bees are the smallest members of the colony, but have the largest number of individuals. A hive can contain 20,000 to 80,000 workers. Their life span is only five to seven weeks.Government supportThe government is now giving much prominence to bee culture in places like Coorg, Chikkamagaluru, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada. “A subsidy of Rs 800 is given for each box that costs Rs 2,000. A person registered with a cooperative society for bee culture can avail this facility," says Dr Kuberappa.