Over 10kgs of honey from two bee boxes,” says Chembur resident Livlan R Chavan, “Yes, that’s what I’ve harvested.”
You wonder if you heard it right as he takes you to the terrace of his row-house close to the R K Studious.
It’s rare to come across a beekeeper in the metropolis of Mumbai. And that’s what makes Chavan a rare person. More so if he has been able to acquire 10kgs of honey in a season with his bee boxes located among the high rises.
An amateur beekeeper, Chavan, a trader and a hotelier by profession acquired the bee boxes with a colony from Johnson Jacob, Mumbai’s Sole Beekeeper in November last. “Once in a while Johnson sir visits us and inspects the boxes and guides us,” says the 55-year-old Chavan.
Chavan took to beekeeping having heard that bee stings could help his arthritic knees. Strange you might say but apitherapy (bee sting therapy) has indeed brought relief to scores of people though there is hardly any evidence of its efficacy in the published medical literature. “Doctors advised me that sooner or later I would have to undergo knee replacement. But a session with an apitherapist in Pune which cost me Rs 250 brought me immense relief,” says Chavan.
That’s when Chavan decided to become a beekeeper. Strangely, not for the honey but for its venom!
Living in Ghatla, behind Amar Cinema, Chavan’s row house has in its surrounding trees like Acacia, Gulmohar, Jam, Guava, Neem, Ashoka, Indian Coral Trees, Moringa, Chickoo, Frangipani, Bougainvillaea and others—either growing in the premises of the housing societies or standing as avenue trees. For the bees, these are the varieties which provide them with nectar and pollen.
“Initially I bought a box with a colony from someone Talegaon and kept it on my farm in Shivkar village in Panvel but soon the bees abandoned it,” recalls Chavan.
On a friend’s suggestion he met Johnson who besides selling him two boxes in October last assured all assistance with its upkeep and maintenance. Ever since then Chavan has been harvesting honey almost every fortnight. His enterprise shows that beekeeping can be a reality with good returns in an urban setting with high rises looming all around. “The bees have been so productive that it seems the surroundings are best suited for bee keeping,” he says.
Having tasted success Chavan plans to reach out to the neighbouring housing societies and convince them to take up beekeeping. “Johnson sir has promised all help,” he concludes.