The many beekeepers of Meghalaya often employ traditional methods, allowing them to maintain a harmonious relationship with the environment while promoting pollination and honey production. Although the favourable conditions and floral resources support successful beekeeping practices, there are challenges. These include unpredictable climatic patterns that can affect honey production and bee colony health, a lack of beekeeping infrastructure and technical training to support management and productivity, and limited market access and value addition, leading to suboptimal linkages and prices for farmers. Another challenge is the lack of fundamental beekeeping knowledge, resulting in beekeepers having a poor understanding of constructing beehives suitable for local conditions, hive expansion, and colony management.

However, this is not the case for Stephan Shadap and Lamuni N. Sangma, two beekeepers residing in different parts of Meghalaya. They have thrived due to their innovative and exclusive beehive designs, while sharing a common interest in invention, environmental protection, and economic empowerment.
Stephan, known locally as the Master Beekeeper, resides in Nongthymmai Kyrdem, a community renowned for its beekeeping traditions. Recognizing the untapped potential of Meghalaya’s honey industry, which currently accounts for only 3% of the national production, Stephan developed an eco-friendly and cost-effective method of beekeeping to increase production. His innovation revolves around straw hives, which preserve the environment and provide affordable options for beekeepers.

Renowned in the Ri Bhoi region, Stephan has extensive training in various beekeeping activities and management. He authored a self-help book titled “Ka kam Ri ngap ha bri u Hynniew Trep,” which details the intricacies of apiculture and empowers potential beekeepers across Meghalaya. Stephan received Rs. 7.5 lakhs in support from CLLMP’s Innovations Fund, enabling further expansion of his activities.

Using the funds, Stephan organized a three-day training program, where fifteen beekeepers from various villages learned his innovative techniques. The program combined theory and practice, inspiring participants with the advantages of eco-friendly beekeeping. Stephan guided them in constructing straw hives using bamboo and paddy straw, providing the necessary materials free of cost.

Stephan’s accomplishments extend beyond the training programs, as he established “LINO HONEY,” a recognized organic honey brand registered under FSSAI.
Meanwhile, Lamuni resides in Chichotcheng village in North Garo Hills. Her inventiveness led her to create mud beehives from local materials, providing bees a safe haven with optimal temperatures year-round, resulting in increased honey production. With Rs. 3.75 lakhs support from CLLMP’s Innovations Fund, she constructed 30 mud beehives.

Lamuni’s innovation garnered attention from village communities, researchers, nature enthusiasts, and individuals dedicated to preserving bee populations. She gladly shares her knowledge and demonstrates the simplicity of rearing bees in mud beehives within homesteads. To empower other beekeepers and promote beekeeping as a viable domestic activity, she conducts training on making innovative beehives and showcases their honey production capabilities.

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