In an effort to motivate beekeepers to produce sugar-free herbal honey, the government has introduced a new eco-friendly beekeeping system in Himachal Pradesh.
The National Horticulture Board (NHB) has sent 5,000 beekeeping boxes along with the bees to the state, to be distributed in 10 of 12 districts in the next year, an official said.
These bees will be fed on the stevia herbal plant leaves that are said to produce sugar free honey. The plant is also considered a natural sweetener and attracts bees.
These leaves will come in handy both during the dry winter countryside and the rainy season when the bees are unable to fly out in search of food.
In the lean season, the hungry bees are normally fed sugar by beekeepers, resulting in production of poor quality honey. Stevia will change this practice.
Sugar free honey is much in demand by diabetics and those who do not wish to gain weight but at the same time want to enjoy the taste of honey.
It is also said to reduce cravings for sugar and fat besides being helpful in controlling blood sugar and high blood pressure.
An official said the project was sent to NHB by the Himachal Organic Association (HOA) to popularise healthy sugar-free honey.
"Eventually the state government plans to procure some 100,000 beekeeping boxes to produce herbal honey," said a government official.
The HOA has signed a deal with a company that will manufacture these boxes.
"Farmers wishing to get into beekeeping can submit projects up to Rs.1 million. The NHB will bear a fifth of this sum. The rest will have to be paid by the beekeeper," said the official. "A box of bees will be sold for Rs.3,000."