In an attempt to inculcate entrepreneurial and research skills among students, an Apiculture Research Centre with an apiary of 100 beehives was inaugurated at the Nadar Mahajana Sangam S Vellaichamy Nadar College (NMSSVN) in Madurai on Monday.
While a few beehives are often kept in many colleges for use by Zoology students for learning purpose, the college authorities claimed that the centre, named as PRC Anand Apiculture Research Centre, is the first to come up in such a scale in a college in Tamil Nadu.
Revenue for students
K.S. Malar, Head of the Zoology department at the college, said students would participate in beekeeping at the centre and part of the revenue from the sale of honey would be shared with them.
She added that the department would also research on the effect of climatic conditions on production of honey and how different species of plants from which the bees collect nectar affect the chemical composition of honey. “Apart from the apiary here, we are planning to place beehives in forest areas dominated by different species of plants and analyze the honey produced there. We are also planning to explore the possibility of crossbreeding of different subspecies of honey bees,” she said.
The 100 beehives kept in the apiary in the college are designed by S. Josephine, a Madurai-based entrepreneur, with an additional rack attached to the bottom to feed the bees in rainy seasons when they cannot go out of the hive.
“This will help in maintaining the level of honey produced even during rains. I have applied for a patent for this design of beehive,” she said.
According to Ms. Josephine, an average of 1 to 2 kilograms of honey could be got from each beehive for every 20 days to one month and the students can sell it for Rs 400 per kilogram.
M. Pavithra, studying third year in the undergraduate course in Zoology at the college, said, “We have a paper on Apiculture in our curriculum. It would be exciting to get a hands-on experience on the subject through the centre.”