Manikganj fields are all yellow as farmers are now more interested in mustard farming because it is more profitable with less capital, and beekeepers from different parts of the country are busy collecting honey, placing bee boxes next to the mustard fields.
The collection of honey by bees from mustard flowers increases the yield of mustard through pollination by up to 20%, said Shahjahan Ali, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extensions (DAE) Manikganj.
He also said different varieties of mustard have been cultivated in 37,110 hectares of land in different areas of the district this season, which was 36,000 hectares last season.
According to the DAE, last year, beekeepers collected about 31 tonnes of honey from 7,500 boxes placed beside mustard fields. Though the DAE has not set up any target for honey extraction this year, the quantity is expected to increase further.
Mustard has been cultivated in each of the seven upazilas of the district but Shibalaya, Ghior, Harirampur, Singair and Manikganj Sadar upazila have the highest mustard cultivation.
There is a high demand for honey in the local and wholesale markets. In addition, many well-known companies like Dabur, AP, Tropica, BT Consumer and Anjuma buy honey at wholesale prices from field level beekeepers of the district.
Honey is sold at Tk450-550 in the retail market and Tk400 per kg in the wholesale market.
Beekeeper Badsha Mia said he had temporarily placed 220 boxes in the mustard field in Baniajuri area of Ghior upazila of the district. Each box contains a queen bee that breeds while other bees collect honey from mustard flowers from morning to evening and store it in the boxes. The beekeepers then collect honey from the boxes once a week.
The amount of honey collected varies depending on the weather. If the weather is favourable, 4-5 kg of honey can be collected from each box once a week. However, if the weather is foggy, honey is collected every ten days. Honey worth around Tk20 lakh can be collected from mustard flowers this season provided that the weather is favourable, he added.
Faisal Hossain, another beekeeper in Garpara area of Manikganj Sadar upazila, said it costs around Tk2,500 to buy each box including a queen bee for collecting honey.
Beekeepers collect honey in Manikganj for about five months of the season. At other times, they collect honey from coriander and black cumin flowers in Sadarpur upazila of Faridpur and Ishwardi during the litchi season, he added.
He further said if honey is exported and the government controls the market price of honey, the profit of the honey business will increase further.