It all started at breakfast in Spice Village with 6 jars. Six big jars filled with honey, one of them plain the other five infused with different berries and spices. I was intrigued and wanted to know, where all this honey came from. Hunting for new stories, I already had the forest dweller in mind, climbing a tree, dangling out on branches and cutting the honey comb from staggering heights. But as as stories have their own content, they turn out different and we ended up taking a trip to “Honey Nagar” to meet the man that filled those jars. Together with Hari, the General Manager of Spice Village and our Naturalist Prateesh we set out for a day of learning, I think neither of us was really prepared for.
Mr. T.K. Raju is no ordinary man, he might got out of school early, but his research and contributions about the benefit of keeping bees for pollination have been recognised by many Institutes and government bodies country wide. Mr. Raju showed us around for about 4 hours, introducing us to the complexities of the life of a bee, so we can relish its produce without a second thought.
Did you know that there are 2 type of bees? There are the little black ones and of course the black yellow striped ones we all know from honey jars and cereals. The little black ones, I learned only pollenate the tiny flowers, because from bigger blooms the pollen is too heavy for them to carry. The tiny flowers in turn have high medicinal value and the honey from the little black bees is used mainly in Ayurveda.
The regular bees pollenate mainly the large plantations of Cardamon, Coffee, pepper, pineapple, rubber and other crops. In his research Mr. Raju has proven that plantations that added bees during their flowering time, have a much higher yield and almost no parasites and are able to avoid chemical pesticides. And in any case with Raju’s approach to nature, he only assists farmers with his boxes that go back to organic and sustainable farming. Today, Mr. Raju employs forty families and together they look after 3600 boxes and about 18 million bees.
The beauty of his work and that of his people is that it restores a balance, we lost with monoculture farming and using pesticides and chemical fertilisers. His work and research has proven that by returning a balance in the eco system, dependencies on chemicals can be avoided and nature is able to work it out in her own way.
I was the sweetest guy on the planet that day, eating constantly different kind of pure and flavoured honey, being told about its health benefit of each one of them. Since I lack the refined tastebuds of Pooh bear I even learned to find out, if the substance we consume is the real thing.
Just take a glass of cold water and pour some honey in it. If it mixes with the water it’s NOT honey, if it sinks to the ground, then relish and enjoy.
Honey Nagar can be visited in a comfortable day trip from our Spice Village Resort in Periyar. Honey of Mr. Raju’s enterprise can be bought at Spice Village in Periyar.