Srinagar, April 15: She is not just an Apiarist, but also a land owner, employer, house builder, mother, and a proud trainer.
Haseena, 50, runs a Bee Farm named ‘Oriental Apiary’, which is famous for selling pure honey.
She sells honey at her home in Naidyar, Rainawari, in this summer capital of the state, on the banks of Dal Lake.
She inherited the farm from her father, Ahmad Ali Khan.
At a very young age, she came out of her comfort zone to take over the farm, which her father ran about 27 years ago.
Now, the family of three sisters depends on the honey production from the farm.
“I was very interested in bee keeping. I have learned about it at a very young age from my father. I used to watch him doing it,” says Haseena, who is renowned for her hard work and willpower.
She has six helping workers whom she also trains in bee keeping and honey production.
Her efforts and quality of honey have earned her a clientele in many foreign countries.
“I have clients in Canada, Australia, USA, Japan, China, and many other countries. My clients were also Mick Jagger, lead vocalist and co-founder of The Rolling Stone, Tunji Banjo, a former professional footballer of Nigerian-Irish decent, Yash Chopra, late Bollywood producer, and Karan Singh, the last Dogra heir of Kashmir,” she says.
“My main aim is to sell locally-made pure honey in the bigger markets.”
She successfully collects honey, package them attractively in small bottles, and supply them to the customers.
She attracts her customers with her knowledge of honey varieties and their medicinal values.
“My foreign customers come on Shikaras to buy honey. I am very confident about the quality of my product. Even I know all the types of bees in different countries and methods of bee keeping. I have around 2,500 bees in my Oriental Apiary,” she says.
Since the September-2014 floods, she has been rearing an Italian bees at Harwan, Srinagar, for honey.
“My father has imported these Italian Bees after the Kashmiri bees died due to Varroosis, a parasitic infection. These bees do not produce a large amount of honey, but are disease free,” she explains.
She says no pesticides or chemicals are used on the plants in order to preserve the bees. Instead, she uses a more natural approach using oils to fight off insects, she says.
“The process of bee keeping is very sensitive. It needs a proper method and care. The bees are very much a part of what we do in a natural way,” she says.
She says as soon as she has bulk of honey, she starts selling it where people can benefit from it.
Haseena’s life was not so easy. Her early marriage did not last long. She was divorced soon after giving birth to a boy, leaving her in a dire social and financial state.
Her journey into business has been harder than others’. But braving all odds, she has become a self-reliant character spreading sweetness.
“A woman can become successful even in an area away from her comfort zone, if only she keeps her dedication and willpower up in difficult times, "says Haseena.
It gives her immense satisfaction to be doing something that she loves and make money out of it.
“I really love my apiary. I liked it since my father used to run it. Collecting honey from these beehives is an extremely challenging and precarious task. I send workers to collect honey, but I look after everything with proper care to ensure quality of the products,” she says.
'Lotus', 'almonds', 'saffron', 'apple' and 'lily' are some of the varieties produced in her apiary.
“The type of honey we get from bees highly depends on the season and blossoming of flowers. June is a favourable season. Our production of honey is completely handmade. We do not use machines and chemicals. This is also a reason why our honey is famous everywhere,” she explains.