Johnson Jacob has held the honour of being Mumbai’s only beekeeper for several years. His earliest bee related memory is from when he, as a five-year-old, would accompany his father on honey extracting expeditions. He didn’t understand he wanted to be a beekeeper until many years later, and when he expressed this to his father he was advised against it, “he discouraged me, saying Mumbai is a very big city and it's not possible to practice beekeeping here”, Jacob recalled.
"In the beginning, I got two boxes of honeybees from Pune, but the bees did not adjust in Mumbai and flew away. I again tried, and got three boxes from Pune by train. During the journey, bees flew out of one of the boxes, so I had to discard it at Khandala Ghat. With time I learnt their behaviour, how many eggs a bee lays, etc. This got me so interested that my whole time was consumed in practising beekeeping. I have been doing this for 17 years. I train people also on how to extract honey. My interest has grown so much that I come here at least twice a day," said Jacob.
The 53-year-old Malad resident came to Mumbai over two decades ago and first started working in a textile mill. He shifted his focus entirely to bee keeping in 2002. A good harvest at his farm in Aarey colony, can give up to 4-5 kgs of honey a month. The honey making season is from May to June, with the rest of the year spent on making the honey combs. He gives the honey to his friends and sells whatever remains.
The apiarist is also aware of the crucial role bees play in protecting our environment, “People think that bees are important because they give honey. But, the most important thing that they do is cross-pollination, honey is just a by-product. If not for honeybees, humans will be extinct in 4-5 years.”
Watch the video above to know more about beekeeping from Jacob.
Published Date: Nov 22, 2017 01:20 pm | Updated Date: Nov 27, 2017 06:50 pm