Preliminary Report by Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab
The initiative taken by KVM-DDS to find out the very impacts of Bt. Cotton on Honey Bees is in a continuous progress. Till now we have interacted with large number of farmers to get their general impression and properly interviewed 7 Honey Bee Keepers in Four districts of Punjab named as:
Malkeet Singh- Village Gadriwal (Firozpur)
Navchaitan Singh- Villgae Meham Sarja (Bathinda)
Sukhraj Singh Lali- Village Nathana (Bathinda)
Gurcharan Singh- Village Tungwali (Bathinda)
Angrej Singh- Village Salabatpura (Bathinda)
Jaswinder Singh-Village-Mahla Bhloor (Moga)
Tajinder Singh- Village Kothe Dehati, Jaitu (Faridkot)
All the findings are quite interested but horrible. Six out of the seven complained that there is something very wrong with Bt. Cotton that result in to continuous fall of honey bee Population and as yields also. But earlier in the era of ordinary cotton they never had to face any problems like this.
Malkeet Singh (District President- National Bee Board, District Committee ,Firozpur) who is doing bee keeping for 28 years long period of time told us that “In era of ordinary cotton we had got 3 to 4 kg honey per box for three times during the particular crop season. But after Introducing of Bt. Cotton for last 7 years we couldn’t able to get any produce because honey bees doesn’t take the nectar from Bt. Cotton flowers and leaves also. We observed that in Kharif Due to the Bt. Cotton we have to lose so many populations of honey bees. Then we decided to stop Honey Bee Migration to wards cotton belt. I think either Bt. Cotton Plants never produce Nectar or Honey Bees doesn’t like the nectar produced by the plants.”
In the times of Ordinary Cotton Bee population is multiplying itself and we had got 25 boxes added after every 100 boxes in due course but in now in Bt Cotton fields the scenario is drastically changed we had to face a loss of 20 to 25 boxes after every 100 boxes said Malkeet Singh.
Malkeet Singh also told that there are two groups in PAU scientists and Bee-keepers as well on the issue of Bt Cotton’s impact on Bee population and honey production. We can classify them in two groups Pro- Bt.Cotton and another Anti-Bt.Cotton . Same is the trend in Bee keepers those who alliance with Pro- Bt.Cotton lobby never accept the fact that Bt Cotton is harmful to honey Bee.
According to S. Navchaitan Singh (a full time Honey Bee Keeper for last 5 years) there is something disreputable with the flowers of Bt. Cotton which lead honey bees to avoid visiting Bt. Cotton fields. In last Cotton season we located our bees in the whole cotton belt from Bathinda to Revari (Haryana) but all the efforts went in vain. We couldn’t get any honey produce during the whole season. He also told that we also noticed that The Queen produces fewer eggs in the particular season. Bees often visit Bt. Cotton Flowers but dose not take the nectar.
The honey bees worked very well in the Ordinary cotton. We had got desired production like (3 to 4 kg honey per box) twice in the season and the population did also become doubled during the season. But the honey production ended up due to the Bt. Cotton sowing in Punjab. We have to lose 5 to seven boxes after every 100 boxes and it results in to RS 2000 to 3000 per Box.
In the words of Sukhraj Singh Lali Village Nathana there is no doubt that honey bees often visit Bt. Cotton flowers and also do their job there. But for last 2 years we couldn’t get any produce. In the era of ordinary cotton we always had got 3.5 kgs of honey per box once in a season. I think that Bt. cotton dose not harm honey bees but in these days all the honey bees like to take the nectar from beneath the Bt. Cotton leaves. But there is no honey production in. We noticed that we have to face a loss of 5-7 bee boxes in the particular season. Till now Bt. Cotton seems harmless to honey bees in my view, he added.
Jaswinder Singh a Honey Bee keeper of Village Mahla Bhloor in Moga district had started bee keeping in April 1996 with 5 boxes is also facing a great loss in this occupation. He inform us that he couldn’t get any honey production for last two years in cotton season and it is just because of Bt. He also said that honey bees never visit Bt. Cotton flowers but I noticed that some of bees like to go beneath the leaves of the Bt. Cotton Plants. I think. Even before the arrival of Bt. Cotton I always had got honey once in a season 3 to 4 Kgs in quantity. During the ordinary cotton the bee population always be doubled in a season. But in present it reduced to 10-15 boxes during the season. It may be possible that due to the poison in the flower bees like to avoid to visit those.
Gurcharan Singh Village Tungwali who is doing honey bee keeping as his primary profession for last 20 years, told us that Bt. Cotton never be harmful for honey bees. He also challenged that I can show you the bees taking nectar from the flowers and leaves of Bt. Cotton plants. He also said that Bt. Cotton enables me to get much more production then before.
Honey Bee keeper of Village Slabatpura Angrej Singh shared his experience with us. According to him he is in the profession since 21.12.1999. in the in the times of ordinary cotton I had got honey for three time in a season but there isn’t any honey production for last 6 years. I noticed that no bees visit Bt. Flowers. In present I have always to face a loss of 15-20 boxes after every 100 bee boxes but during the ordinary cotton season the bee population almost be doubled.
In the light of above information it seems a matter of some serious research or some of intelligent watch during the flowering time of Bt. Cotton. We also suggest all the farmers to have some serious observations in the running cotton season. So we the KVM think that we have to give required time to the study for having an exact and clear picture of the present scenario.
Another farmer-Bee Keeper from Jaitu village Angrez Singh also told about decline in Honey production in Bt cotton fields.
One interesting thing came to notice that all Bee-keepers forced to feed bees with Sugar during Bt Cotton crop season because according to them –“There is no pollen in fields so to survive Bees we keep sugar pots near Boxes, and Bees used to take sugar to live”. THIS IS NEW PHENOMAN EMERGED AFTER BT COTTON CULTIVATION HAS INCREASED.