VIDEO | Meet this octogenarian who gave up 4 jobs for his honey dream
Srinagar, Sep 20: Outside the high walls of famed Harwan garden stands a makeshift apiary nestled under a towering mulberry tree. The air around it rings with the growing buzz, as Mohammad Shaban Kumar, an 80-year-old beekeeper, carefully lifts the lid off the wooden beehive box, giving a live demonstration of his emotional relationship with bees. With his face covered in a net to shield against stings, Shaban uses his ever-ready yellow screw driver to extract honey from a sticky frame of hexagon-shaped honeycomb. “I treat them like my children, and in return, they reciprocate my love for them. Normally, the bees used in apiculture sting only in self-defense. If you handle them with care, they don’t attack you.” says Shaban with a smile, allaying the fears of getting stung.
His beekeeping journey dates back to Maharaja’s rule. “I started bee keeping right in 1957,” the old beekeeper, who never felt like giving up on his passion despite witnessing the brutal stages of conflict, says. “I have seen the hardest of times. The guns roared and there were days when I earned literally nothing, but I never thought of switching my profession,” he says. The old man says he sacrificed four lucrative government jobs to live his dream. “I have worked in an engineering college, fisheries department, wild-life department, and silk-factory. My passion kept on calling me and one day I decided to turn my dream into reality,” says Shaban, who earns around “Rs 2 lakh” annually. The old beekeeper finds utmost satisfaction in this profession and has been researching and experimenting with the bees over the years. “There is lot of Barakah (blessings) in this field of work, but it demands lot of hard hard work and patience,” says Shaban, who lives with his wife and four sons. He maintains around five to six beehive boxes in his apiary. From cooking to cleaning the wet frames inside the boxes, he does everything by himself. “I make sure the boxes are cleaned properly by spraying sulphuric acid at regular intervals,” the beekeeper says. He owns three farms and 250 beehives. Till date, he has employed no helpers and lives alone. His family lives in a big concrete house some kilometers away from the apiary. He believes that youngsters should explore this field of work instead of running after the “unattainable” government jobs, as this can prove to be a viable career option. “Why should we only run after government jobs? Apiculture is a growing field and there is a lot of scope in it. The government should also create more avenues for the apiculturists so that more youth are drawn towards it,” Shaban says.