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Page: Bringing back Honeybees

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Nov 10, 2013

Bringing back the Honeybees

DURIAN farmer Chang Teik Seng switched to organic fertilisers after noticing that honeybees were staying away from his 200-odd trees in Balik Pulau, Penang.

“The colourful durian flowers bloom for two months each year, attracting hundreds of bees,” says the owner of Bao Sheng Durian Farm.

“But in the late 1990s, I noticed that the bees stopped coming. That was when I switched to organic fertilisers and stopped using pesticides,” he shares, adding that fortunately, the bees returned soon after.

Chang says besides pollination, bees are “proof” that the durian is safe and tasty.

He should know as his farm which is famous for its variety of durians such as the ‘Kun Poh Ang Bak’, ‘Hor Lor’ and ‘Red Prawn’, has attracted famous names like New York-based Malaysian designer Zang Toi and supermodel Ling Tan.

“The presence of bees indicate that the flesh of the durian is good and free of chemicals,” he says.

Ghee Hup Nutmegs factory owner Chang Kun Mim says there used to be many bee hives on both his fruit orchards covering 10ha of land in Balik Pulau.

He is puzzled as to why the numbers have declined over the years and believes it could be due to land clearing in the vicinity for development.

“My orchards are pesticide-free but the bee population here is definitel­y not as big as before.

“There used to be swarms of bees when I put the nutmeg out to dry but these days, there are smaller numbers,” he notes.

To educate the public on the importance of honeybees in crops cultivation, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) recently started a beekeeping project and now has colonies at its premises in Balik Pulau on the island, Bukit Mertajam in Seberang Prai and Sungai Petani in Kedah.

It is also promoting natural farming and educating farmers on the dangers of pesticides and weed­killers.

A beekeeping expert from India, P. Kaliyamurthi, who was brought in by CAP, recently told a press conference that he could not find any honeybee nests while searching in several areas in Penang, Kedah and Perak which should have been teeming with the bees.

Kaliyamurthi, who has 35 years’ experience in beekeeping, repor­tedly described the situation as worrying, saying remedial action should be taken.

images/Bringing%20back%20the%20Honeybees,%20Balik%20Pulau%20Penang.JPGChang switched to organic fertilisers after noticing that honeybees were staying away from his durian trees in Balik Pulau, Penang.

 - The Star


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