Bees & Apiculture
Apiculture or Beekeeping is from latin (apis “bees”) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies,commonly in hives by human, also includes understanding the various processes of honey extraction and bee life cycle, proper construction of hives, ensuring the availability of various sources of nectar and any related activity to make sure that the bees live a healthy life. It also means that the beekeepers must have a thorough knowledge about the standards and controls set by the local governing bodies for application of best practices. Beekeepers have a range of delicate activities to carry on such as construction of hives, replacing the queen bee, maintaining the hive which can deteriorate because of exposure to changing seasons. Handling the bees is a tough task and the beekeeper must ensure that they wear suitable clothing to protect themselves from being stung. The beekeeper must also know how to keep the hive healthy and away from various threats and pests.
Five important species of honey bees are as follows.
- The rock bee, Apis dorsata (Apidae).
- The Indian hive bee, Apis cerana indica (Apidae).
- The little bee, Apis florea (Apidae).
- The European or Italian bee, Apis mellifera (Apidae).
- Dammer bee or stingless bee, Melipona irridipennis (Meliporidae).
Rock bee (Apis dorsata)
It differs little from the giant honey bee in appearance, but has extensive behavioral adaptations that enable it to nest in the open at high altitudes despite low ambient temperatures. It is the largest living honey bee. Characteristic features they are giant bees found all over India in sub-mountainous regions up to an altitude of 2700 m. These bees are the largest among the bees described. They construct giant single comb in open about 6 feet long and 3 feet deep. The comb is fully exposed and huge from inaccessible branches of trees, along the sides of steep rocks in the forest and even from the walls, rafters and other parts of buildings they shift the place of the colony often. Although they produce highest amount of honey among many other Indian species (36 Kg honey per comb per year) they are ferocious and difficult to rear. The rock bee honey represents a major portion of the honey sold in our markets collected by hive hunters.
Indian hive bee / Asian bee (Apis cerana indica)
They are the domesticated species, which construct multiple parallel combs with an average honey yield of 6-8 kg per colony per year. These bees are larger than Apis florae but smaller than Apis mellifera. They are more prone to swarming and absconding. They are native of India/Asia.
They constitute the main honey bee species that are cultivated for commercial production of honey and other substances. They are the domesticated species that build multiple combs... They are used in apiculture, mostly in wooden boxes with fixed frames. These bees can be adapted to living in cavities in some human structures and in purpose-made hives, and their nesting habit means that they can potentially colonize temperate or mountain areas with prolonged winters or cold temperatures
European bee / Italian bee (Apis mellifera)
They are also similar in habits to Indian bees, which build parallel combs. They are bigger than all other honeybees except Apis dorsata. The average production per colony is 25-40 kg. Been They are the only bees that were not native to this country but imported from European countries (Italy)and slowly they adapted and distributed themselves all over the Indian subcontinent. They are less prone to swarming and absconding.
Little bee (Apis florea)
Little bee (Apis florea) they are also known as dwarf honey bees. They are native to India and are distributed only in plains and not in hills above 450 MSLThey build single vertical combs. They also construct comb in open of the size of palm in branches of bushes, hedges, buildings, caves, empty cases etc they produce about half a kilo of honey per year per hive... They are not domesticate species as they frequently change their place the size of the bees is smallest among four Apis species described and smaller than Indian bee.
Besides true honey bees, two species of stingless or dammer bees, viz. Melipona and Trigona occur in our country in abundance. These bees are much smaller than the true honey bees and build irregular combs of wax and resinous substances in crevices and hollow tree trunks. The stingless bees have the importance in the pollination of various food crops. They bite their enemies or intruders. It can be domesticated. But the honey yield per hive per year is only 100 Gms.