Honey, Bees are getting shrunk

Worldwide the number of bees is reducing due to various detrimental factors. In the past four years reduction in their numbers have shrunk by as much as 30%.

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Honey has so many properties and benefits to humans, that it is considered as the food of Gods. It is full of nutrients and is complete food. And how is it made? Flowers with nectar, and a beehive and bees do the rest. It was also the first food of the cavemen. Our food will be less diverse and less nutritional without honey.

Not only that they convert the raw nutrients from flowers into the brown colored liquid but during the collection of nectar by visiting one flower after another, they are carrying out the process of cross pollination which results in better kind of fruits. The bee keepers keep their beehives under the shade of flowering trees or crops with flowers to enhance the pollination rate and thereby the productivity of farm crops. It has been observed that production increases to the tune of 35% due to pollination by bees.

India in this regard has done better with increase in the number of bees. The production of honey in 2014-15 has been 29578 MT as compared to 28376 MT in 2013-14. The value of export of natural honey was 445 crores rupees in 2013-14 and 555 crores rupees in 2014-15. The major buyer countries are USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Libya and Morrocco.

In India, 500 species of flora exits which are suitable for bees to extract the nectar and pollen. Major areas of production of natural honey are Maharastra and North East India. Some of naturally pure honey types are:

  1. Rapeseed or mustard honey.
  2. Eucalyptus honey
  3. Lychee honey
  4. Karaj or Pongamea honey
  5. Multi flora himalayan honey
  6. Acacia honey
  7. Wild flora honey
  8. Multi or single flower honey

The possible reasons for the decline in numbers are the use of pesticides in the farming, pathogens and lack of foraging. The has been marked increase in the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) disease during recent years. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.

Even nature is giving us enough indication against the use of methodologies which run counter to the harmonious ways of the nature.

Scaly Breasted Munia

There are grown up Ficus Shrubs with thick canopy of branches and leaves at the top in the small park outside our house. In the morning usually I sit up in the balcony and watch birds and green fields away.

There are common birds to be seen dominated by the rock pigeons which are multiplying here at an abnormal speed and breeding in the niches of buildings.  Residents scatter seeds for them so that there is no scarcity of the food to them. Then there are mynas which have arrived here after the end of winter season. Similarly there are a few crows and nightingales. A falcon also is to be seen sometimes.

But some days back in the early morning noticed the small beautiful pair of birds. They were sitting on the metallic net wires near the ficus shrub. Then they inspected all the ficus trees. Since these trees have thick foliage bigger predator birds cannot enter inside.

Then everyday they were darting into fields near by and bringing the straws to make nest inside the shrub. Usually they were seen in the morning. During this activity they take turns to bring the material for construction of the nest. The other of the pair will sit on the fence near the ficus. I peered into the foliage and found a nest which was surprising given the small size of the bird.

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Then I photographed them and searched the internet for indetifying the birds. It turned out that these are the birds called “Scaly Breasted Munia”. Their scientific name is Lonchura punctulata. these are also known as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch.

it is a small bird with a very distinctive appearance. It has a bright cinnamon head and neck, with duller brown plumage on the back and wings. The underside of the scaly-breasted munia is mainly white, although each feather on the breast. it is merely 11 to 12 centimeters long.

They are described as social animals which means they live in small groups but here i found only two pairs. The diet of the scaly-breasted munia comprises mainly seeds, and this species spends much of its time foraging off the ground. It also takes seeds directly from plants such as rice during the harvest season, when the kernels are maturing.

The birds are native to south asia ranging from Indonesia in the east to Afghanistan in the west. These birds are also found as far north as Nepal.

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Baya Weaver

It is very small sized bird which fabricates beautiful nests. These nests hang from the fronds of trees which have thorny in nature to ward off the predators like snakes which are a threat to their eggs. The entry of the nest is near bottom. So the nests are generally made in large groups on trees like Acacia and Palm fronds.

These birds generally live in large groups as can be seen from the number of nests made on a single tree. Secondly they prefer, in addition to the type of tree being acacia or palm, the location where food is easily available and also pools of water are there. They prefer to be near fields of Bajra ( pearl millet), jowar (sorghum) and teosinte which grow seeds at thr top. One can see, these birds making visits to these fields and back to the nest and listen to their chirping standing near the fields

Baya weaver is scientifically called Ploceus Phillippinus. It is found commonly in South East Asia. Flocks are found in the cultivated areas, grasslands where food is available in plenty and and raw material for construction of nests and specific trees are standing.

Like the humans, female of the pair dominates. There are intersting sequences while making the nests. It the male who make many template nests. These are then inspected by the female. Female destroys the templates which it does not like. When finally, the one is approved, both of them complete the rest of construction together. One can see birds in frenzy during the nest making activity is going on.

In North Indian states like Punjab and Haryana, the conditions for making the nests are fulfilled, nests can be seen in the rural areas. With the building activity the habitats of these birds are being destroyed and one has to go deep inside the rural areas to locate these nests.

I live in the area near Panchkula in Haryana where all around were grasslands and cultivated lands. But now these are being gobbled by buildings. Still there are some spaces where I found these birds and their nests. I used canon camera to take some pictures.

 

Nests hangings from the palm fronds
  



Baya weaver exiting from nest
  
Bird preparing to enter
  



A completed nest
 
  

Saturo Iwata: Gamer at heart no more…..

Saturo Iwata, lost his game with bile duct cancer at the age of 55. He was born in 1959. He began his career as a video games developer with HAL which is game development laboratory of world famous japanese games leader Ninetendo. The name HAL in itself has an intersting naming history with each alphabet ahead of the corresponding alphabets of IBM.IMG_2611
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imageHe helped the company develop some of the most popular games like Kirby, Earthbound , Pokemon series and N64 Super smash Bros. These memorable games put the Ninetendo as the leader in video games.

 

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He was appointed president of Ninetendo in 2002 and chief executive of Ninetendo of America in 2013. He became the fourth president of the company which was founded in 1889 as a playing card company and was the only person out of the founding family of the company.

Under his leadership the company released Ninetendo DS and 3DS portable systems as well as the Wii Console in 2006. In march 2015, he announced a collaboration with mobile company DeNa of Japan for mobile games development.

His famous quote shows that games was his love and at his heart he was a gamer.

“On my business card I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a games developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer”. God rest him in peace.

Facing Floods in Assam….

I was posted in Cachar Project of ONGC during 1987 to 1991. Our company was desperately looking for oil and gas in this area. There were 5 rigs employed for these operations in different areas around the town of silchar which is located in the southern part of Assam adjoining agartala and near this town is another town called Badarpur which is a gateway to north eastern states like agartala, Manipur and Mizoram. This area where drilling operations were being conducted bordered Bangladesh. Two rivers namely Surma and Kushiara flow through this area which are actually two parts of Barak river coming to this area from Manipur. In fact, town of silchar is situated on barak river. These two parts again rejoin and enter Bangladesh where ultimately it joins mighty Brahmaputra river.

There was one site called Adamtilla where I used to go for duties on aan old Romanian rig. It was about 120 kilometers from our residence in silchar and a good 2 to 3 hours journey. Our company has hired maruti gypsy jeeps for this job.

There we did duties on 14 days on and off pattern. It means that for 14 days you will be there on the rig. Of this, first 7 days one officer did day duty from 6 am to 6 pm and other did the night duties. After 7 days pattern reverses and when 14 days are over, the employee shall go to his declared hometown and resume the duties again after 14 days. Mostly people did the off days at their hometowns from different stations throughout India.

But with me the case was different. I was well site chemist which is a supervisory duty but as my family had moved to my hometown in Chandigarh, my boss gave me 14 days chance in addition.

When the shift was off duty, the staff was put up in temporary accommodation at Patharkandi which was about 7 kilometers away. It was a good accommodation with Assam type houses for 2 people each. In addition, there was a mess for food and entertainment room with TV and VCR. There were no TV channels like these days. There was also a badminton court. But real pleasure was the flowering plants like marigolds and dahlias. All this was supervised by a gardener who hailed from orissa. In fact this residency was the first one created when the project commenced.

Buses took shifts to drill site and back. Although it was only 7 kilometers but road condition and ongoing construction of a bridge over the sunai river stretched the time to half an hour or so. Many a times the roads inside the tea gardens were blocked.

When the shift completed its tenure of 14 days, they were transported to airport about 170 kilometers away. It belonged to air force and flights operated only in the day time only. There were only two flights each day and operated between Kolkata, silchar, agartala and Manipur. Everyone was desperate to catch the flight amidst uncertainties like strikes, irregularities of flights and inundations due to floods.

I faced one such flood. We were on the rig when the news of flooding due to overflowing of the sunai river and closing of road traffic trickled in. The river was in spate. It was decided to stop the work. There was a railway station on the line from agartala to badarpur. While all the staff was sent to station we 5 to 6 people stayed back to close all the engines. The drill string was pulled up to casing shoe and BOP was closed. The plan was that staff reaching earlier will try to somehow hold the train till we reach the station. But the work on rig is as difficult to close as it is to begin. So when rest of us reached the station, the train had already left. There was as such scarcely one train daily so there was no chance till next day evening.

We returned to drill site which was now pitch black. Somehow the generator was started and light was restored. There was no food. Nothing to lie back on. Mosquitoes attacked in hordes. Cicadas chirped with piercing sounds. Whole night passed like that. In the morning, flood had not receded. Only way to colony was walking along the railway track all the way 7 kilometres. It was raining incessantly. The going was slow. There were many small rivulets flowing full and the wooden slippers were of uneven thereby increasing the chances of slipping down. Had someone slipped, he would had sure fallen into the stream. After sometimes, as energy was sapped, walking became very tiring and we had to sit in the rain for sometime.

At last, after 3 hours we reached patharkandi colony. We got refreshments and were dead tired. We were held up there for 3 days before the shifts resumed again.