I’ve had an idea!

28th December 2015

“THE ARUN BARUN ORGANIC BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION (ABOBA) Aims and objectives” and “Let Us Cultivate”

Notes on the leaflets:

I have written fourteen leaflets on Different aspects of Beekeeping in rural Nepal and these, together, will comprise the ABOBA booklet. Most are focussed on specific manipulations or topics but the two leaflets in this “Post “are of a general nature and are written to be distributed and read as separate essays although they will be included in the “ABOBA Booklet”. Because of this there is a certain degree of duplication. None have been published yet, in any form.

ABOBA is still only an idea, albeit an idea that has been circulated amongst local Beekeepers in Sankhuwasabha, with favourable response, but we hope it will be officially registered in 2016.

The use of fallow land, as suggested in the “Let us Cultivate” leaflet has not yet been put into practice, but we have purchased a small tractor and propagated the idea locally in Dada Pangma with plenty of interest shown.


A Newton hive on the terrace below


Factors that govern success in managing Apis cerana


One of the primary factors that govern success for the rural beekeeper in Nepal is forage. This, because of the limited foraging range of cerana (300m), which suggests, if possible, that the bees should be placed where forage is plentiful say adjacent to a field of buckwheat or in an orchard. Honeys produced from one particular crop may have distinct qualities that are marketable and these honeys can have extra value because of medicinal uses or a desirable taste. ref. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/28399182 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-34965010. Forage, large areas of crops or wild flora, should also be available over as long a season as possible. This, to ensure continuity of nectar and especially pollen. Pollen is not stored as assiduously as nectar but is vital in the process of rearing brood and thus maintaining a viable population of bees. Perhaps as part of educational projects, it may be possible to promote the planting of good forage in local communal areas, Schools etc. and to encourage local people to think of what they might plant in their gardens. There is also scope for cultivating unused land and planting good forage crops as outlined in the, “let us cultivate” leaflet.


Keeping the bees within range of sources of forage may mean moving the bees more than once during the season. This means that mobility is an important factor. Hive design must be carefully considered for ease of management and ease of re-location to areas of abundant forage.


Rice. The scattering of large rocks is typical


Practical knowledge, knowledge sharing, practical support and education of the general public is important to the project, see leaflet “THE ARUN BARUN ORGANIC BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION (ABOBA) Aims and objectives”


The rim of the terraces is raised to hold water. The vertical face of the terraces is home to a wide variety of plants

The general Environment

Many large areas of a hectare or more, cultivated by one family, are interspersed with smaller plots of 100 sq. metres or less that are lying fallow and have often been so for some years. On inquiry the reason nearly always turns out to be because the young men in rural areas travel abroad to seek work, often as security guards, labourers or as soldiers. The population in rural areas is thus deprived of many of it’s young men in their prime and as virtually all the cultivated land in the foothills of the Himalayas is comprised of terraces 2 or 3 meters wide which follow the contours of the steep hillsides, you could compare them to a giant staircase, a good deal of land is left untilled.  Any cultivating machinery used, has to be carried, the work calls for considerable skill and physical strength and the whole operation is very labour intensive. We have purchased a small portable two wheeled tractor light enough to be hefted, for short distances, by two men and we have calculated that it will be well worth our while to bring fallow land, adjacent to our Apiaries, under cultivation to provide forage for our Bees and for pollinators in general. See the leaflet “Let Us Cultivate”

hives plus nuc

Points to consider in brief:

  1. ABOBA – cultivating unused land to grow forage and promote biodiversity!
  2. Beneficial for the natural environment
  3. Advantage for other beekeepers
  4. Planting trees and shrubs that bees like we may grow cuttings and sell them cheaply if they are decorative or yield a crop or we may give them away if they only have insignificant flowers
  5. Establishing the idea of using unused land
  6. Establishing the idea of moving bees around
  7. Unusual crops – what sort of honey?
  8. Unusual crops – what sort of honey?
  9. We need to research plants that flower and also produce a saleable crop.
  10. Placing hives to pollinate other people’s crops.
  11. Free seeds_ subsidised seeds from UK sponsorship “Bees Abroad” etc..
  12. Assess the quality of different food crops, vegetables fruit etc. as forage, sic woodruff has been cited as medicinal. Basuk, (ginger) adewah (coriander), beans, pahpaar (buckwheat), oranges and other citrus etc etc

13 Blackberries, (Nepalese version), also used as fencing, cultivate and sell small plants

  1. Free seeds_ subsidised seeds from UK sponsorship “Bees Abroad” etc.
  2. Possibly a bolt together hive for site use and other hives for transport. Legs not glued but only bolted on.
  3. If the Beekeeper is to move his bees to take advantage of available or best quality forage Mobility is important as is ease of management of the colonies.
  4. A bigger tractor for hire, budget required.
  5. Placing hives to pollinate other people’s crops.
  6. Crops where pollination is a problem for farmers.
  7. Cooperatives. (study.)
  8. Hive design. (continuing study.)
  9. Forage plants. (study.)




Aims and objectives

  1. To promote the productive and sustainable husbandry of Apis cerana, maximising productivity of pure Organic Honey, whilst using methods of husbandry that ensure the wellbeing of the bees as a colony and as part of the local ecology.
  2. To find, modify or design, a hive or hives that best meet the requirements of the local beekeepers.
  3. To promote mutual assistance, the exchange of ideas and tested methods of husbandry amongst members and local communities.
  4. To provide educational facilities in the form of designated teaching apiaries.
  5. To promote an interest in the study of Entomology and Botany in the local youth.
  6. To advise, any interested parties, on how to best exploit the products of the Bees and on Organic beekeeping in general.
  7. To promote the nutritional and medical properties of Organic Honey.
  8. To promote the (natural) biodiversity of local environments.
  9. To highlight any advantages, to the local environment, of A. cerana over A. mellifera.
  10. To promote and assist local cooperative enterprise, which shares the association’s aims and objectives, relating to People and the Natural Environment.

ABOBA- notes on Aims and Objectives:

1/ This implies not using any substances dangerous to the bees, people or the environment. The use of purchased foundation of unknown provenance or from sources that use chemicals at any stage of its production may not meet this criteria. This also impacts on the husbandry of the Bees and the type of hive used.

2/ Factors to be considered for the choice of the hive or hives are as follows: productivity, ease of management and manipulation, the facility to control and prevent swarming and absconding and the cost to build or buy which may be governed by ease of construction and local resources of skills and materials. The assoc. may be able to make the loan of a horizontal TBH to members, for a season, so that they can evaluate it for their own use. A Newton hive can be converted to a vertical TBH or to Top bar brood and framed supers using no foundation and ABOBA can advise on this.

4/ Depending on the availability of a teaching Apiary and members with free time, educational programmes may be set up for prospective Beekeepers and other interested parties. These facilities will also promote the study of basic botany, and entomology as well as encouraging environmental awareness.

5/ Youth groups and educational institutions will be encouraged to take an interest in Beekeeping. Young students may be sponsored to pursue environmental study.

6/7/ The products include Honey, Beeswax and Pollen, these can be used to manufacture Mead (honey wine) and various ointments / medicines for personal use. By-products of Beekeeping may include ensuring maximum pollination of some commercial crops such as Oranges, the manufacture of hives and equipment for sale, sale of Queens (from a Queen rearing programme) and Nucleus sales. It should be noted here that managing bees organically is not only better for the environment but is also in our view easier and more profitable for the rural beekeeper.

8/ Simply keeping bees according to organic principles should help maintain biodiversity, through pollination, and the more efficient their management, the greater is this effect. It is hoped that managing bees in a holistic manner will stimulate the beekeeper’s interest in the environment, and also that of the people who buy or consume organic products.

10/ ABOBA may also be able to provide speakers at meetings of groups, clubs or associations where the above topics could be raised. The Association will be opening a Facebook Page and a website, our webmaster is yet to be appointed. ABOBA will be open to, Beekeepers and to any other parties interested in our aims and objectives.

Let us cultivate your unused land for the benefit of our bees

Our objective is to maximise the forage, (food sources of Pollen and Nectar), available to wild and managed colonies of Apis cerana the “Nepalese honey Bee”. This will also increase biodiversity to the benefit of the natural environment.

It is hoped that crops cultivated by local people will also benefit from enhanced pollination. It should be noted that A. cerana is widely reckoned to be superior to A. mellifera and most other generalised pollinators, in increasing crop yields in Nepal.

In addition to the above benefits, fallow land will be brought back into cultivation and yield food, for the local fauna and for local people.

The deal is that the cultivators/beekeepers, with the agreement of the owners, get to use a fallow plot for a specified time, maybe one year or for the growing season of the crop sown. They get the crop and also to install a few hives of bees so that the bees get the benefit of forage whilst the crop is in flower. The owners benefit because their land is brought back into cultivation and left in good heart.

The site will be left freshly cultivated ready for the owner to re-commence use. If use for more than one season is agreed, a green manure will be sown, each year, to keep the land in good heart.

The parties will agree the crop to best suit the needs of the bees.

The parties will agree the maximum number of hives to be situated on the site.

We will research the best crops for bee forage, perennial, annual or biennial. Green manures, that are to be turned in by us, would be acceptable in some circumstances provided they can be allowed to flower.

If someone wants us to cultivate an area and use part of it himself, we can come to an arrangement. We have a tractor suitable for use on terraced land.  Maybe we help choose the crop, for quality of forage, and depending on how large the area we could negotiate a division of that crop?