It was found that beekeepers in the Sundarbans occupied the lowest rung in the social structure, which made them vulnerable in more ways than one.


Beekeeping was introduced in the Sundarbans around 20 to 30 years ago. Today, there are almost 2000 beekeepers in the Sundarbans who supply raw honey to intermediaries who, in turn, sell it to big companies.

Even though the market value of raw honey is very high, beekeepers in the Sundarbans do not earn well, mainly due to strong price controls asserted by middlemen, a lack of value addition to the raw honey, and the artificial lowering of raw honey prices through adulteration.

It was found that beekeepers in the Sundarbans occupied the lowest rung in the social structure, which made them vulnerable in more ways than one.

It is therefore important  to undertake a comprehensive sociological study of the bee-keepers of the Sundarbans in order to understand the identity of economic factors associated with the production of golden liquid honey, or the internationally famous ‘mangrove honey’ or ‘Mangal honey’, often referred to as “liquid gold’ for the bright golden colour of the honey and its high price, produced by the native honeybees Apis dorsata Hill Type.

Environmental journalism is the gathering, cross checking, production, distribution, and exhibition of data and information about current events, trends, and issues associated with the environment. This chapter has tried to explain the significance of news stories or coverage regarding beekeeping in the Sundarbans area from the standpoint of environmental journalism.

The important issues or factors an environmental journalist should remember while covering this type of news story are the focus of this study. This chapter has followed the qualitative method and the analytical approach in this study. The data was sourced from the published report in newspapers and academic publications.

Beekeeping (or apiculture) is the maintenance of bee colonies, commonly in man-made hives, by humans. Agriculture is the major occupation of the Sundarbans area, besides which a large number of people are also engaged in the collection of honey from the forest.

Due to the insufficient and gradual decrease in income from the major occupation, residents of this area prefer to engage in seasonal livelihood options as a secondary source of income. Honey collection is such a secondary profession, as it is confined to only a few months in a year.

Increased interest in beekeeping through apiary installation has been found in the past few years within the Sundarbans. Beekeeping is always a very eco-friendly practise in the Sundarbans. In comparison to other businesses, production costs are low and demands remain high.

It is very safe compared to the traditional honey collection, which involves entering the forest and facing the attack of the man-eater Royal Bengal Tiger.

With all its scope, this is still not a popular livelihood option for the local community due to several constraints. A higher initial investment is always a challenge for the economically backward people of the Sundarbans.

Lack of technical knowledge on scientific beekeeping procedures and the inability to combat bee diseases may decrease production and reduce profit. Unable to avoid the intermediate agents, the beekeepers are not getting lucrative prices for their production in the commercial market and are compelled to sell product at lower prices with minimal profit, which reduces enthusiasm towards this particular business.

The availability of adequate equipment for bee cultivation in the local area is also one of the major constraints, which increases expenditure for initial setups.

A significant environmental news story on beekeeping or apiculture needs closer cooperation between Indian journalists, government and non-governmental organisations, communities, and concerned citizens. A greater awareness among audiences will emerge only after environmental journalists give the issues the weight and importance they deserve.

An environmental journalist will be able to address objectivity in his or her news coverage by incorporating the best aspects of traditional journalism, i.e., meticulous research, precise language, and fair reporting. News coverage about environmental issues in India requires a new direction. This direction can be conducted through environmental journalism.

We all need to be part of the solution to various environmental problems and constraints, and journalism cannot be left out. The process of providing awareness and educating communities about the significance of beekeeping in the Sundarban area through environmental journalism can be a fruitful exercise.

Let me cite another example of environmental journalism. It has been heartwarming to find that a tree was saved while constructing the police canteen on the vast campus of the famous Bhavani Bhavan, Belvedere Road, Alipore Police Line, Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal (India).

Such initiatives must be commended, as such small yet monumental efforts are necessary to conserve our immediate local environment and ecosystem. Furthermore, when such an effort comes from the city administration, like the police force, it is appreciated even more.

Such sincere  efforts to protect our environment by the city administration stand out as an outstanding example, inspiring others to follow a similar path and be sensitive towards protecting our ecosystem and environment.

Police can also play an important role in environmental education and awareness in addition to maintaining the law and order situation of the city or town they are responsible for taking care of.

A tree is not just a living entity but a living ecosystem in itself that provides food and shelter to hundreds of species of animals, including different species of microbes, insects, mollusks, nematodes, worms, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. The tree serves as a host, helping to complete the life cycles of a large number of species.

A tree is, in fact, a biodiversity hotspot in its own way. Hence, saving and protecting the trees is an important step towards ecosystem restoration and conservation.

Hats off to the Kolkata Police Force for such a nice ecological and environmental gesture. Such important news related to our ecology and environment needs to be highlighted regularly in our mainstream media, both online and offline. Only then can we execute the role of real environmental journalism.