Learn about bees and their role in people's livelihood at a festival this weekend

Trek up Konkan Kada
Trek up Konkan Kada

It's a weekend trip with a difference. This Saturday, join responsible travel company, The Western Routes for a honey bee festival that will teach you all about the bees, how to harvest honey, their conservation and their ecological significance.

"Bhorgiri and Yelavali, two villages in Bhimashankar, have come together to spread awareness about the rearing of bees, through this festival, which is supported by the NGO Kalpavriksh and us," says Jayesh Paranjape, founder of The Western Routes. "The idea is to introduce people to traditional honey-harvesting practices, which while good for habitat conservation and revival, are not entirely sustainable."

The villages harvest the honey of Indian Hive Honey Bee and the Giant Rock Honey Bee
The villages harvest the honey of Indian Hive Honey Bee and the Giant Rock Honey Bee

The forest in and around the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary provides livelihood to the Mahadeo Koli tribes and other traditional forest dwellers. Honey is one of the major NTFP (Non Timber Forest Produce) that is harvested from the Indian Hive Honey Bee and the Giant Rock Honey Bee. Honey harvesting usually begins in mid or late March.

The bees nest in dark, hidden spots, and make a lot of noise when foraging, so harvesters, who head into the forest at dawn, follow the sound to locate the hives.

Participants get to follow villagers in the forest and witness the process of harvesting honey from beehives, interact with the women's self help group in Bhorgiri and buy jars of local honey. The two-day trip will also feature a ritual that involves doing a puja of the honey.

"This will give people a chance to interact with villagers, and learn about the problems faced by honey harvesters. We will also discuss honey bees and their importance in the region," adds Paranjape.

If the bees don't get your buzz going, you could trek to Konkan Kada for a beautiful view of the valley and sunset, and explore the Bhorgad Fort and caves. In addition, you also get to camp in tents at Yelavali and experience rural life.