Now, Mumbai tunes into urban bee-keeping buzz

Soon, Colaba and Capitol Hill could have something in common. The city is the latest to join the elite company of London, Paris, San Francisco, Washington, Toronto and Chicago, among others, by embracing the trend of urban bee-keeping.

For the first time in India, an urban bee-keeping training programme is being conducted at different locations in the city by Under The Mango Tree (UTMT), an NGO. "The need for such a programme arose when we realised that there is little awareness, especially in urban India, about bees and their crucial role in the environment," said Sujana Krishnamoorthy, programme head, UTMT.

"Bees are nature's most prolific pollinators and a way for plants to continue their lineage. A majority of the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat rely on pollination by bees," said Gurushabd Khalsa, co-ordinator for the programme.

Technical experts from Uttarakhand have been roped in to conduct the training. "We will use apis cerana indica bees, which are locally available and most suitable for Mumbai's environment. The bees' home will be a box made of wood and has frames where the bees build their honey comb," Khalsa explained.

The goals of the programme, besides creating awareness and imparting urban bee-keeping skills, are to dispel myths about bees. "Most people are afraid of bees because they sting, but they only do so when attacked. In fact, they die after stinging," Krishnamoorthy said. They also wish to stress the importance of bees in an urban environment like in Mumbai. "Bees play an important role in preserving the ecology and help maintain the green cover of the city," she said.

Urban bee-keeping has become the latest trend in the West, especially among the youth. "The White House also has a bee box," Krishnamoorthy said. It is a low-cost and easy hobby and can be pursued on a rooftop, terrace or even a balcony. "It provides a great one-on-one interaction with nature and helps sustain urban biodiversity," Khalsa said.

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