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6th Asian Apicultural Association International Conference

by Naomi Saville, Nepal

The 6th Asian Apicultural Association (AAA) Conference and World Apiexpo was held in Bangalore, India in February. Delegates came from many parts of India, and Australia, Bhutan, Germany, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Nigeria, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, UK and the USA.

Four days of oral and poster presentations of a high quality stimulated lively discussion on:

- Biology and management of the Asian hive bee Apis cerana

- Biology and management of the exotic European honeybee Apis mellifera in Asia

- Biology and management of wild honeybee species

- Honeybees and managed crop pollination

- Bee flora and migratory beekeeping

- Honeybee pests, diseases and enemies

- Hive product processing and marketing

- Beekeeping in Asia

- Beekeeping technology and equipment

Environmental changes and pesticides on bees

- Beekeeping extension and gender mainstreaming

- Apitherapy

In addition, the one-day technical tour visited an Apis dorsata bee tree housing hundreds of colonies, and the Nandi Hills.

Day 1 was workshops on beekeeping with Apis cerana (see box above right) and pollination. Participants took part in groups and shared their findings in a forum at the end of the sessions, making the discussions informal and participatory.

The Conference was organised by Dr Sivaram, Dr Anita Menon and the team of The Century Foundation of Bangalore in association with the international AAA Steering Committee including representatives from AAA Administration Office, Tamagawa University, Japan, Professor Siriwat Wongsiri from Thailand,Dr Cleo Cervancia from The Philippines, Dr Naomi Saville from Nepal, Professor L R Verma and Professor Sihag from India, to name but a few. During the Conference, Dr M S Reddy joined the Committee as one of the chairpersons of the Apiculture Extension Session.

Happy 10th Anniversary!

The Asian Apicultural Association was established in 1992 to encourage friendly exchange of information between beekeepers and bee scientists in Asia.

Individual membership is US$20 and for institutions US$100 per year. If you live inside Asia you can join by contacting your local AAA Representative (contact details in BfD 61). If you live outside Asia send payment directly to: AAA Office, HSRC, Tamagawa University, Machida-Shi, Tokyo 194 8610, Japan. E-mail HSRC@agr.Tamagawa.ac.jp Bees for Development Journal is proud to be the official Newsletter of AAA

Action points from the Apis cerana workshop

Zonation of bee species

- Define areas for Apis mellifera and Apis cerana beekeeping to protect indigenous honeybees from extinction with buffer zones around Apis cerana areas.

Breeding of Apis cerana

- In specially developed regional centres, breed strains of improved Apis cerana with traits for Thai sacbrood virus (TSBY) resistance, higher honey and pollen production, and less swarming and absconding.

- Multiply improved breeds and distribute improved stock on a mass scale.

Inter and intra-institutional co-operation

- In AAA member countries, build collaborative partnerships and generate more communication and collaboration between Apis cerana beekeepers and bee scientists.

Public awareness

- Create regional guidelines on Apis cerana beekeeping.

- Develop educational materials about indigenous honeybees and their importance.

- Promote awareness of the toxicity of pesticides to bees and humans.

- Produce bio-pesticides and promote Integrated Pest Management practices.

- Strengthen the capacity of beekeepers’ organisations in awareness generation.

Appropriate technology development

- Access and document indigenous technical knowledge about Apis cerana.

- Adapt indigenous technical knowledge using farmer participation to develop appropriate beekeeping technology and practices.

Bee product marketing

In order to provide marginalized Apis cerana honey producers with higher and fairer prices for their bee products:

- Promote niche markets selling Apis cerana honey with the comparative advantage of it being organic, safe for use as medicine, fairly traded and environmentally friendly.

- Promote value addition to bee products.

- Establish Asian standards, with special stipulations for Apis cerana honey.

Research on Apis cerana 

- Integrate research efforts with grassroots field investigations of beekeepers’ needs and make research farmer-participatory.

- Investigate remedies and management for the control of TSBV and European foulbrood diseases.

- Explore the importance of Apis cerana as a pollinator of crops.

Training and extension with Apis cerana

- Motivate farmers to adopt beekeeping with Apis cerana and provide necessary training, extension and follow-up.

- Promote participatory approaches in beekeeping extension.

- Use of low-cost appropriate technologies in training and extension efforts.

-Establish more rigorous procedures to identify prospective beekeeping trainees.

- Establish rewards for enthusiastic trainees in the form of further training.

Conservation of Apis cerana genetic resources

- Work with nature reserves to stress the importance of conserving indigenous honeybees.

- Ban the introduction or migration of Apis mellifera in buffer zones around nature reserves.

- Protect areas where Apis cerana biodiversity is known to be valuable (for example Himalayas, South India, Lao).

Conclusions and recommendations of the 6th AAA Conference

1. The Conference recognises that Asia is extremely rich in its diversity of honeybee fauna. However, due to constraints such as lack of basic infrastructure, skilled human resources, research, training and extension facilities, beekeeping in Asia still requires considerable support to tap its full potential. AAA therefore resolves that for revitalisation of beekeeping in Asia co-ordinated and systematic efforts are made to establish a training and research centre for Asian bees and beekeeping in the region. Such a centre should have internationally funded programmes in beekeeping training and research, especially through links with development organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the Japanese International Cooperative Agency.

2. The Conference recognises the importance and need for conservation, protection and utilisation of pollinators in the agro-ecosystem. AAA should take steps with the International Convention on Biodiversity to initiate an appropriate programme for pollination in Asia.

3. Apitherapy is a fast emerging science. AAA should make the medical community aware of the scientific literature available supporting the efficacy of bee products and make apitherapy an integral part of alternative medicine.

4. Apis dorsata nesting sites in natural habitat need to be protected. Nesting sites such as Ficus sp with hundreds of Apis dorsata colonies need to be designated as National Heritage Natural Sites. We also urge Century Foundation, Bangalore to initiate steps for their conservation and awareness.

5. Enterprise approaches for conservation and augmentation of indigenous bee species should be initiated through private entrepreneurs and NGOs.

6. Asia is rich in traditional and intermediate (appropriate) technology for beekeeping. Efforts need to be made to collect, document and validate these practices before this valuable information is lost.

7. Tropilaelaps clarae, Varroa spp, TSBV disease and European foulbrood pose serious threats to bees in Asia. AAA therefore resolves that a well-trained unit of bee pathologists is created in each member country and a special workshop on bee pathology be held at the next AAA Conference.

8. Beekeeping is a very knowledge and skill-intensive scientific activity, which needs special care, management and manipulation. AAA therefore resolves that a unit of well-trained, skilled beekeeping extension agents be created. Experienced beekeepers (rather than bee scientists) may be the best human resource to develop as extension agents.

9. A major problem while planning strategies for beekeeping development in Asia is a lack of accurate scientific databases with information on bees and beekeeping in the region. Organisations involved in beekeeping research and development programmes give different and contradictory statistics. AAA recommends that beekeeping activities be included in the national census in each member country. AAA should also form a database for member countries to provide beekeeping information for access by all.

10. Widespread introduction of Apis mellifera throughout Asia is causing dramatic loss of indigenous honeybee genetic resources. AAA should appeal to the governments of different Asian member countries to establish pro-poor, pro-environment and pro-gender policies for beekeeping, especially with respect to zonation of areas for Apis mellifera propagation and areas for Apis cerana conservation.

11. The Asian region harbours a rich biodiversity of honeybee species, which have genetic resources that could prove crucial to apicultural development in the future. AAA resolves that measures be adopted to maintain biodiversity through habitat conservation and restoration, regulation of the introduction of exotic species (Apis mellifera) and control of pesticide usage. For conservation of Apis dorsata and Apis laboriosa, legislation regulating honey hunting coupled with participatory resource management introducing sustainable cropping from wild colonies needs to be undertaken.

12. Asian bee products are failing to match international quality standards. AAA resolves that proper honey harvesting and processing techniques be taught to beekeepers and regulations upon use of chemical pollutants to honey (for example sulphur, acaricides, antibiotics) are introduced.

The 7th AAA Conference will be held in 2004 in The Philippines. Details in Look Ahead on page 11.