Due to several uncertainties connected with agriculture farmers have to rely on some kind of side business associated with agriculture to earn more profit. Honeybees naturally collect pollens and nectar & convert them into a fine edible, nutritious, and healthy product for human beings – Honey. They are very helpful to the farming community as they do pollination in crops free of cost. We also get several other bye products from beekeeping like Royal Jelly, pollens, beeswax, bee venom, propolis, etc. Hence beekeeping or Apiculture can benefit the farming community on large scale, so farmers should go for this supplementary agricultural business to earn handsome profits.
Honeybees help the farming communities on large scale by pollinating flowers and causing pollination.
Types of Honeybees
Five important species of honey bees are as follows.
The rock bee, Apis dorsata (Apidae) :- They are giant bees found all over India in sub-mountainous regions up to an altitude of 2700 m. They construct a single comb in an open about 6 feet long and 3 feet deep . They shift the place of the colony often. Rock bees are ferocious and difficult to rear. They produce about 36 Kg honey per comb per year. These bees are the largest among the bees described.
- The Indian hive bee, Apis cerana indica (Apidae):- They 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 (Fig. 2). They produce about half a kilo of honey per year per hive. They are not rearable as they frequently change their place. The size of the bees is smallest among four Apis species described and smaller than Indian bee.
- The little bee, Apis florea (Apidae):- 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.
- The European or Italian bee, Apimellifera (Apidae) :- 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. They have been imported from European countries (Italy). They are less prone to swarming and absconding.
Dammer bee or stingless bee, Melipona irridipennis (Meliporidae):- 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. Stingless bees have 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.
Castes of Honeybee
Every honey bee colony comprises a single queen, a few hundred drones, and several thousand worker castes of honey bees. Queen is a fertile, functional female, the worker is a sterile female and the drone is a male insect.
Sex differentiation in bees
Queen and worker develop from the fertilized egg while drone develops from an unfertilized egg. Further differentiation of queen and worker depends on the quality and quantity of food that is fed to the queen or worker larvae.
There is only one queen in a colony. It is considerably larger than the members of other castes. Her wings are much shorter in proportion to her body. Because of her long tapering abdomen, it appears more wasp-like than other inmates of the colony. The queen is the only individual who lays eggs in a colony and is the mother of all bees. It lays up to 2000 eggs per day in Apis mellifera. Five to ten days after emergence, she mates with drones in one or more nuptial flights. When her spermatheca is filled with sperm, she will start laying eggs and will not mate anymore. She lives for 3 years.
The drones are the male bees. They are much larger and stouter than either the queen or the workers although their body is not quite as long as that of the queen. They have no sting; a suitable proboscis for gathering nectar is also absent. They are, therefore, physically incapable of the ordinary work of the hive. Their only function is to impregnate the young queen a task which they are unable to perform until they are about 10 days of age. The normal lifespan of a drone is 57 days.
The workers are the smallest inhabitants of the beehive. They form the bulk of the population. The number of workers in a colony varies from 1,500 to 50,000. They are imperfect females incapable of laying eggs. On certain occasions when the colony is in need of a queen, some of the workers start laying eggs from which only drones are produced. These workers, called laying workers, are killed as soon as a new queen is introduced or produced in the colony. The lifespan of a worker is about 4 weeks during the active season and 8 to 10 weeks during the less active season. Their range of flight varies from 1,000 to 1,500 m. The division of work within a colony among the worker bees is based on the age of the individual and on the needs of the colony.
The lifespan of workers can be divided into two phases as first three weeks for household duty and the rest of the life for outdoor duty.
- Build comb with wax secretion from wax glands.
- Feed the young larvae with royal jelly secreted from hypo pharyngeal gland.
- Feed older larvae with bee-bread, a mixture of pollen and honey
- Feeding and attending queen.
- Feeding drones.
- Cleaning, ventilating and cooling the hive.
- Guarding the hive.
- Evaporating nectar and storing honey
- Collecting nectar, pollen, propolis and wat Ripening honey in honey stomach.
- Ripening honey in honey stomach.
The Queen Honeybee lays up to 2000 Eggs per day.
Equipment Needed for Beekeeping
Hives:-The hive is the man-made structure used by beekeepers for keeping honey bees. It is usually made of wood, however, it can also be made of plastic, polystyrene, or any other material. The normal and regular size for a deep hive body is 19 7/8″ long, 16 1/4″ wide and 9 5/8″ in height. A deep hive body turns heavy when loaded with bees, honey, and pollen. So most of the beekeepers use the medium size super for hive bodies.
Frames:-Frames are of rectangles shapes that hang within a hive-like filing system. The honey bees will construct their comb within these frames. This is the place they will make honey, lay brood, and live their lives continually planning for winter.
Bee veil:- Bee veil is the most important equipment for beekeepers, He wears it over the head to protect his face and neck from the stings of bees while taking honey or inspecting the hive. A beekeeper should wear a bee veil consistently to shield his face and neck from stings. Three basic types of veils are available in the market. First are those that are open at the top to fit over a hat, second is totally hatless veils, and third are veils that form part of a honey bee suit.
Bee Suit:- A wide variety of bee suits are available in the market for beekeepers in a wide price range. White or tan clothing is most suitable when dealing with honey bees. Different colors are also worthy, but honey bees respond adversely to the dark hues, fluffy materials, and garments made from animal fiber.
Gloves:-Gloves are another essential and inexpensive tool for beekeeping. It protects your hands from bee stings. Without wearing gloves one can’t even imagine touching the hive. So while purchasing gloves make sure that the gloves should be made of sturdy material.
Shoes:- Shoes are also an important part of beekeeping. It is necessary to cover yourself properly from top to bottom before digging the hive. So the beekeeper needs to wear boots that should belong in the leg, are easy to tuck in the bee suit, made of hard material with strong soles too.
Smoker:- The bee smoker is an essential piece of a beekeeper’s toolbox. Without the smoker, beekeepers would endure a lot more stings during a hive investigation. These simply designed smokers are used to calm bees when the beekeeper has to work in the hive. The smoke produced by the smoker persuades honey bees that their hive is on fire. The honey bee’s normal reaction is to get ready for a possible migration. They start consuming honey so they will have food stores if their break venture is long. The high consumption of honey leaves the honey bees in fairly food extreme lethargies which leaves them torpid.
Hive tool:- A hive tool is also an essential, low-priced, and multipurpose tool that is used in maintaining and investigating apiaries. It is available in different variations and styles. It is considered as the third most necessary tool for the beekeeper after the beekeeping veil and bee smoker.
Queen Catcher:- A queen catcher is a handy and convenient tool used to separate the queen for a while from the bee crowd.
Feeders:-A feeder is a vessel or apparatus used by beekeepers to feed pollen, honey, or substitutes like a mixture of sugar
and water to the honey bees of a colony. In some of the seasons when things either have stopped sprouting or are standing by to blossom. At this time your honey bees will require you to assist them with enhancing their food supply.
Bee Brush:-Bee brushes are used to separate the bees from the honey frames. After evacuating the frame, shake it to unstick the majority of the bees and afterward use the bee brush delicately, and brush over the rest of the honey bees from the frame.
Honey extractor:- This equipment consists of a cylindrical drum containing a rack or box inside to hold the superframes. The box is fixed to a rod at the center and it can be rotated by a set of two gear wheels. The frames with, honey cells are decapped by a sharp knife after dipping it in hot water and fixed to the slots provided in the box which is rotated by the handle.
Bee Hive Smoker Honey Extractor
HARVESTING AND PROCESSING OF BEE PRODUCTS
Honey, beeswax, royal jelly, bee venom, propolis, and pollen are important bee products. Honey is harvested at the end of a flowering season. In traditional or top-bar hives, the beekeeper selects combs that contain ripe honey covered with a fine layer of white beeswax, usually those nearest the outside of the nest. Honey is extracted only from super combs using a honey extractor.
1. Honey:- Flowers nectar is a solution of sugars and other minor constituents that bees collect and concentrate into honey. It is a sweet, viscous fluid, produced by honeybees. It is collected as nectar from nectarines at the base of flowers. Also collected from nectar secreted by plant parts other than flowers known as extrafloral nectaries. It is collected also from fruit juice, cane juice, etc.
Composition of fully ripened honey
Undetermined (Enzymes, vitamins, pigments, etc.)
Pigments: Carotene, chlorophyll, and xanthophyll are the important pigments present in honey.
Minerals: Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Sulphur, Silica, and Iron are the minerals present in honey.
Vitamins: Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), Nicotinic acid, Vitamin K, Folic acid, Ascorbic acid, and Pantothenic acid are the vitamins present in honey.
2. Beeswax:- Beeswax is the material that bees use to build their nests. It is produced by young honeybees that secrete it as a liquid from special wax glands. Worker bees secrete wax when they are 14 to 18 days old. In contact with air, the wax hardens and forms scales, which appear as small flakes of wax on the underside of the bee. About one million wax scales make 1 kg of wax. Bees use the wax to build the well-known hexagonal cells that make up their comb, a very strong and efficient structure. Bees use the comb cells to store honey and pollen; the queen lays her eggs in them, and young bees develop in them. Beeswax is produced by all species of honeybees, although the waxes produced by different species have slightly different chemical and physical properties.
Composition and property:- Alcohol’s and fatty acids 70 to 74 percent; free acids 13 to 15 percent; saturated hydrocarbons 12 to 15 percent; vitamin A 40961U; specific gravity 0.95; melting point 65°C.
Processing:- Beewax is obtained from the cappings collected during honey extraction. Wax is obtained from old combs that are unfit for use and from combs damaged during honey extraction. Best grade wax is obtained from cappings where the recovery percent is higher. In India, a major proportion of wax is from combs of Apis dorsata
- Mainly used by candle industry
- Used for preparing comb foundation sheets
- Used in cosmetics like cold creams, lipsticks and rouges
- Used in pharmaceutical and perfume industry (ointments, capsules, pill coating and deodorants)
- Used for preparing shoe polish, furniture etc. for water proofing
- Used in adhesives, chewing gums and inks etc.
It is used in the manufacture of very many items of cosmetics like beauty lotions and creams, lipsticks, ointments and pomades and polishes for boots, floor, and furniture, lubricants, paint, and varnishes, inks, electrical insulating apparatus, and candles.
3. Bee venom:- The sting of a worker bee is attached to a poison sac where venom is stored. A newly emerged bee is unable to sting because she cannot insert the sting which is not fully criticized. Also, little amount of venom is stored in the venom sac. A bee, when two weeks old has maximum venom in her poison sac.
Properties:-Bee venom contains histamine, apamin, lecithinase, hydrochloric acid, formic acid, orthophosphoric acid, sulfur, calcium, copper, and magnesium sulfate.
Production:- Bee venom is commercially obtained by the use of electric shock. An electric current is passed through copper wires at 12 volts. The bees get shocked, irritated, and release venom by inserting the string into a thin nylon cloth below the copper wires. Venom is deposited on a glass plate placed below the nylon sheet. The venom on drying is scrapped from the glass plate. One Mellifera colony yields about 50mg of venom.
- Rheumatism can be cured by apitherapy where bees are made to sting the patient
- Venom can be used as sub-cutaneous injection for treating rheumatism
- Ointment made by mixing apitoxin, vasaline and salicylicacid (1:10:1) can be applied on affected areas.
- It has stimulating effect on heart muscles and decreases cholesterol level and lowers blood pressure.
- It can cure neurosis, endoarteriosis, endoarthritis and neuraglia
- Antihistamine creams or injections are used as anti-allergents
4. Propolis:- Propolis gathered by bees from resinous exudes of the tree. In the bee colony, propolis is used for stacking frames, sealing cracks, and crevices but it is a contaminant of comb wax. Propolis is obtained by scrapping it from the frames.
It contains resins and balsams 55 percent, ethanol, and scented oils 10 percent, and pollen 5 percent.
- Used in preparing ointments for treating cuts, wounds and abscesses in cattle.
- Mixed with vasallne to soothen burns.
5. Royal jelly:-Royal jelly is secreted by the gland of nurse bees of the age of 6 to 12 days when the glands are fully active. It is a very nutritious food and is fed to the young worker larvae and the queen larva and adult. Royal jelly is milky or light pale in color.
Properties:-It contains proteins of 15 to 18 percent. Proteins are mainly amino acids (alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and serine). It also contains lipids 2 to 6 percent, carbohydrates 9 to 18 percent (glucose, fructose, melibiose, trehalose, maltose, and sucrose), and ash 0.7 to 1.2 percent. Vitamin A, B, and C, iron, copper, phosphorus, silicon, and sulfur are also present.
Production:- The queen cell is trimmed to the level of the royal jelly. After 2 or 3 days of grafting, larvae are gently removed with forceps and the royal jelly is removed with a royal jelly spoon. This is stored in refrigerated conditions. In the case of Apis mellifera 200mg of royal jelly is obtained from a queen cell.
- Responsible for queen determination
- Very nutritious food for human beings
6. Pollen:-It is collected by pollen trap from ingoing pollen foragers. Pollen is a rich protein source for the human diet.
Uses of the honey bee:- In addition to providing man with very valuable materials as honey and beeswax, the honey bees are also useful to him in aiding in the pollination of many of his crops. In fact, it has been claimed that the value of bees in the pollination of crops is ten to twenty times the value of honey and wax they produce. Certain crops like apples, alfalfa, and clover almost entirely depend upon bees for their pollination. Even among some regularly self-pollinated crops, the yield is considerably increased after the visit of bees.