ISLAMABAD  -  Scientists on Monday warned that alarming decrease in the population of honey bees may result in reduction of food production in the country.

Bees, known as the most important pollinator of food crops, mainly responsible for pollinating one third of the food we consume, are dying because of deforestation, excessive use of pesticides, water contamination, and harmful emissions.

Dr Rashid Mehmood, Director, Honey Bee Research Institute (HBRI), while addressing four-day advance training workshop at NARC emphasized on tree conservation and planting new trees to save bees.

Due to deforestation of Kekar (Vachellia nilotica, gum Arabic tree) and Bair (Ziziphus mauritiana) in the whole Potohar belt and many areas in Punjab, the per box honey production has been reduced to half.

He said due to migratory farm practices introduced by NARC the per box production jumped to 25-30 kilo, during last decades from mere 5-6 kilos.

Pakistan produces around 10,000 metric tons of honey every year, and exports worth Rs 5 million, which is peanuts in the international market.

Absence of testing labs is one of the major reason behind low exports. NARC lab is only one facility whose results are accepted internationally.

Speakers, while addressing the first day of the moot, stressed the need for conservation and strengthening the honey analysis laboratories to keep a check on the honey quality and pesticide residues in honey with special focus on increasing the honey export of Pakistan by reaching the European honey market.

Dr Ghulam Muhammad Ali DG, NARC the chief guest emphasized on enhancing the scope of research activities regarding pollination, mites and disease control, quality queen breeding and honey analysis.

The participants of the training program will learn principles of queen rearing and stock improvement, queen rearing methods (traditional and nontraditional), choosing the best stock (hive) to raise queens, grafting frame honey composition, quality control parameters, granulation and quality grading and preparation of honey samples for testing and analysis. The workshop will conclude on 18th April, 2019.