Thanks to the planting of millions of trees under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s billion tree project, honey production in Pakistan has increased by 70%.

The Changa Manga honey production initiative began in 2016 when beehives were auctioned off. 729,000.

Now their price has gone up to more than Rs 13 lakh.

According to forest department officials, the full implementation of the project could increase the auction volume of Changa Manga by 11 million.

Shahi Tabassum, a forest officer, said 85 per cent of the trees had been planted in recent years, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of bees.

He said that at present there are hundreds of bees in the forest of Changa Manga, noting the increasing revenue from the auction of honey.

In the financial year 2016-2017, honey was auctioned for Rs. 729,000 and in 2017-2018 for Rs. 1.15 million. Similarly, in 2018-2019, honey was auctioned for Rs. 1.252 million, while in the current financial year, the auction increased by Rs. 1.3 million.

Forest dwellers describe how deforestation, as well as the loss of green cover, has dramatically reduced the number of hives because there is little or no space for bees to build hives.

In addition, the flowers that bees use to cut nectar have been poisoned by pesticide sprays, resulting in the death of thousands of bees.

This has significantly reduced the production of natural honey, which has encouraged people to eat processed varieties.

There are four species of bees in Pakistan, the forest official said. Dominion, hill, small and European. The first three species are native bees, while the European species (Ups mellifera) was imported from Australia.

European bees are the best because of the amount of honey.

Tabassum revealed that a bee flies 3.5 million times and travels 50,000 kilometers to produce half a kilo of honey.

Bees lay 1,500 eggs and 250,000 million eggs a day in one season. Tabassum added, “When they remember the scent of flowers as they move around and come back with their help after collecting honey in their stomachs.”

He said that about 400 tonnes of honey is imported to Pakistan every year, which represents only 2% of the total demand.

There’s a hope that tree planting project will further reduce Pakistan’s import bill in next few years.