Apiculture In Detail


In this post we will describe every important point of Apiculture

Apiculture In Detail

Honey and beekeeping have a long history in India. Honey was the first sweet food tasted by the ancient Indian inhabiting rock shelters and forests. He hunted bee hives for this gift of god. India has some of the oldest records of beekeeping in the form of paintings by prehistoric man in the rock shelters. With the development of civilization, honey acquired an unique status in the lives of the ancient Indians. They regarded honey as a magical substance that controlled the fertility of women, cattle, as also their lands and crops. 

id=”History_of_bee_farming_in_India” style=”font-family: Georgia, Palatino; font-size: 18pt;”>History of bee farming in India

In India, Honey beekeeping has an old history because the text of our ancient has shown that the first sweat tested by them was the honey only, who are living in the mountain caves and forest. Our ancestor discovered bees hive for that divine gift; named honey. It is then followed by the poor landless and unemployed people of the India and spread over with time. The technique of beekeeping can vary from person to person, and from region to region.

There are two techniques;

  1. Traditional and
  2. Modern Honey bee farming

Traditional bee farming


This technique is practice from a long time by the Indian people. People use to maintain bee’s in the old-fashioned clay houses, in wooden logs, in the hollow of the tree stem or in the cracks of the wall, and much more.

To get honey from honey-filled roofs, chopped “chhattas” are either squeezed or boiled on a fire are the common ideas used by the Indian people. Then filter that collected honey with a clean cloth. By following this method, you will get only muddy and unclean honey, which is sold able at a lower rate in the local market. Since there are many imperfections in the removal of the honey from the bee’s hives by the ancient times.(Apiculture)

So to get improvement in the production of the honey, modern techniques are developed by the new generation, which is detailed below.(Apiculture)

Modern bee farming


This technique is also have been developing from long years ago and is popularly run by most of the new bee farmers. In this techniques, bees are followed in the modern man made wood contaminant and are called as modern beekeepers. Bee rearing in a wooden box is also beneficial because it does not harm the bee eggs since it is protected by the wooden box. Honey can be easily taken out from the box by the beekeeper. Since proper care and a relation of the beekeeper with the bees are the main factors which affect the production of the honey. One can easily earn high amount of profit with low investment.

Raising the Bees in a wooden box is also beneficial because it does not harm the bee eggs since it is protected by the wooden box. Honey can be easily taken out from the box by the beekeeper. Since proper care and a relation of the beekeeper with the bees are the main factors which affect the production of the honey. One can easily earn high amount of profit with low investment.

 important species of honey bees are as follows.

  1. The rock bee, Apis dorsata (Apidae).
  2. The Indian bee, Apis indica (Apidae).
  3. The little bee, Apis florea (Apidae).
  4. The European or Italian bee, Apis mellifera (Apidae).

The important features of these species are given below:

Rock bee 

They are giant bees found all over India in sub-mountainous regions up to an altitude of 2700 m. They construct single comb in 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. (Apiculture) They produce about 36 Kg honey per comb per year. These bees are the largest among the bees described.

Little bee (Apis florea)

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. 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. They distribute only in plains and not in hills above 450 MSL.

Indian bee / Asian bee (Apis 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 thanApis florae but smaller than Apis mellifera. They are more prone to swarming and absconding. They are native of India/Asia.

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. They have been imported from European countries (Italy). They are less prone to swarming and absconding.

The Bee Colony And Its Member

Honey bees are social insects that live in colonies. Honey bee colonies consist of a single queen, hundreds of male drones and 20,000 to 80,000 female worker bees. Each honey bee colony also consists of developing eggs, larvae and pupae.

The number of individuals within a honey bee colony depends largely upon seasonal changes. A colony could reach up to 80,000 individuals during the active season, when workers forage for food, store honey for winter and build combs. (Apiculture) However, this population will decrease dramatically during colder seasons.

The Queen


The queen bee is the dominant, adult female bee that is the mother of most, if not all the bees in the hive.

A future queen bee’s larva is selected by worker bees to be nourished with a protein-rich secretion, known as royal jelly so that it can sexually mature. 

A newly hatched queen begins her life in a duel to the death with any other queens present in the colony and must destroy potential rivals that have not yet hatched. Once she accomplishes this, she takes her virgin mating flight. Throughout her life, she lays eggs and secretes a pheromone that keeps all other females in the colony sterile.



A drone is a male bee that is the product of an unfertilized egg. Drones have bigger eyes and lack stingers. They cannot help defend the hive and they do not have the body parts to collect pollen or nectar, so they cannot contribute to feeding the community.

The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen. Mating occurs in flight, which accounts for the need of the drones for better vision, which is provided by their large eyes. Should a drone succeed in mating, he soon dies because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone’s body after sexual intercourse.

In the fall in areas with colder winters, worker bees mind the food stores and prevent drones from entering the hive since they are no longer needed, effectively starving them to death.



Worker bees are female. They accomplish every chore unrelated to reproduction, which is left up to the queen bee. In their first days, workers tend to the queen. For the remainder of their short lives, workers keep busy.

There are many roles to fill, such as preserving honey, feeding drones, building honeycomb, storing pollen, removing the dead, foraging for food and nectar, carrying in water, fanning the hive to maintain the proper temperature and guarding the hive against invaders, like wasps. Worker bees also make the decision to relocate the colony in a swarm and then rebuild the new nest.

Maintaining a proper temperature for the hive is crucial for the survival of the eggs and larvae. The brood chamber for the bees’ young must remain at a steady temperature to incubate the eggs. If it is too hot, the workers collect water and deposit it around the hive, then fan the air with their wings causing cooling by evaporation. If it is too cold, the worker bees cluster to generate body heat.

The recruitment of foragers from a hive begins when a scout bee returns to the hive engorged with nectar from a newly found nectar source. She begins by spending 30-45 seconds regurgitating and distributing nectar to bees waiting in the hive. Once her generosity has garnered an audience, the dancing begins. There are 2 types of bee dances: the round dance and the tail-wagging or waggle dance, with a transitional form known as the sickle dance.

In all cases the quality and quantity of the food source determines the liveliness of the dances. If the nectar source is of excellent quality, nearly all foragers will dance enthusiastically and at length each time they return from foraging. Food sources of lower quality will produce fewer, shorter, and less vigorous dances; recruiting fewer new foragers.

The Round Dance


The round dance is used for food sources 25-100 meters away from the hive or closer. After distributing some of her new-found nectar to waiting bees the scout will begin running in a small circle, switching direction every so often. After the dance ends food is again distributed at this or some other place on the comb and the dance may be repeated three or (rarely) more times.

The round dance does not give directional information. Bees elicited into foraging after a round dance fly out of the hive in all directions searching for the food source they know must be there. Odor helps recruited bees find the new flowers in two ways. (Apiculture) Bees watching the dance detect fragrance of the flower left on the dancing bee. Additionally, the scout bee leaves odor from its scent gland on the flower that helps guide the recruits.

The Waggle Dance

As the food source becomes more distant the round dance is replaced by the waggle dance. There is a gradual transition between the round and waggle dance, taking place through either a figure eight or sickle shaped pattern.

The waggle dance includes information about the direction and energy required to fly to the goal. Energy expenditure (or distance) is indicated by the length of time it takes to make one circuit. For example a bee may dance 8-9 circuits in 15 seconds for a food source 200 meters away, 4-5 for a food source 1000 meters away, and 3 circuits in 15 seconds for a food source 2000 meters away.


Direction of the food source is indicated by the direction the dancer faces during the straight portion of the dance when the bee is waggling. If she waggles while facing straight upward, than the food source may be found in the direction of the sun.


If she waggles at an angle 60 degrees to the left of upward the food source may be found 60 degrees to the left of the sun.


if the dancer waggles 120 degrees to the right of upward, the food source may be found 210 degrees to the right of the sun. The dancer emits sounds during the waggle run that help the recruits determine direction in the darkness of the hive.

Horizontal frame hives

This method is better than the fix comb method and top bar hive due to the mobile frame which is used to collect honey. In this method, after one time collecting the honey from the hive, one can set it again for recollecting the honey.(Apiculture)

This method is widely adopted for commercial honey collection. Generally, it can be maintained well for tropical agriculture.

Vertical stackable frame hive method

This method is commonly used by the people of united states and other surrounding countries. The main advantage of this method is the large size of the hives. The Rose hive is the latest modified design of this method.(Apiculture)

The major weakness of the Rose method is the space needed. It requires 2-3 boxes as big as the nest. So there is need of lots of frames when one is going to raising the bees as a business. It has been assuming that Rose methods bear all the advantage and limitation of this type method. In this method, there is additional brood and one can easily increase his hive by adding framed boxed to the main hive. This will give advantages you as you can collect all the honey by removing the entire box of honey in the place of removal of single frame box at once.


When a virgin queen flies to a site where thousands of male honey bees may be waiting, she mates with several males in flight. A male drone will mount the queen and insert his endophallus, ejaculating semen. After ejaculation, a male honey bee pulls away from the queen, though his endophallus is ripped from his body, remaining attached to the newly fertilized queen.

The next male honey bee to mate with the queen will remove the previous endophallus and eventually lose his own after ejaculation. Male honey bees are only able to mate seven to 10 times during a mating flight, and after mating, a drone dies quickly, as his abdomen rips open when his endophallus is removed. Even drones that survive the mating flight are ejected from their nests, as they have served their sole purpose by mating.

Virgin queens mate early in their lives and only attend one mating flight. After several matings during this flight, a queen stores up to 100 million sperm within her oviducts. However, only five to six million are stored within the queen’s spermatheca. The queen uses only a few of these sperm at a time in order to fertilize eggs throughout her life. If a queen runs out of sperm in her lifetime, new generations of queens will mate and produce their own colonies.

Honey bee queens control the sex of their offspring: as eggs pass through the ovary into the oviduct, a queen can determine whether a particular egg is fertilized or not. Unfertilized eggs become drone honey bees, while fertilized eggs develop into female workers and queens. Female workers do not mate, but they can lay infertile eggs, which in turn become male honey bees.

Queens lay their eggs in structural oval-shaped cells, which stick to the nest ceiling. Worker honey bees fill these cells with royal jelly to prevent larvae from falling. Soon-to-be workers are fed royal jelly during the first two days, while future queens are given royal jelly throughout the entire larval period. The development of each member of a colony differs depending on caste: male honey bees need 24 days for proper growth from eggs to adult, while workers need 21 days and queens require only 16.

Basic requirement of the honey bee farm

Here are some basic needs of the bee farm by which one can improve his honey collection: –

  1. Clean water source; by natural o artificial source should be available.
  2. Tree covered area or shade; so that bees can save from the excessive heat of the sun.
  3. Cool atmosphere; Try to maintain the moisture of surrounding. It will affect your profit. Excessive moisture will affect the honey bee fly and also the honey ripening.(Apiculture)

Basic requirement to start honey bee farm

To start the commercial beekeeping business, we need some basic requirements for the honey bees. Below is a list of these essential needs, learn them:

  1. You should be aware well with the human-bees relationship because a happy relationship with your bees cause to quality honey production in higher amount & they do not leave your hives.
  2. You should have a good knowledge of bees colony & local flora

Site Requirements in Honey Bee Farming

Selection of a suitable site is also an important task. A proper site for your bee keeping business leads to better result by more honey collection. So, in the selection of the site for your bees farm, learn the following.(Apiculture)

Select a location for your farm which has a dry atmosphere with no dampness. A high RH level in your atmosphere will restrict the bees flight while collecting honey & also in ripening the nectar. As mentioned earlier, a good source of clean water is essential for the quality production of honey. So, provide a pure source of water; natural or artificial. Also, trees in your bees farm will provide you a shady & cool place, which protect from the wind. Your site should contain at least some old hive to realize the bees, a sympathy toward them. If not present, construct an artificial one from wooden materials. Also, pollen yielding plants are essential around your bees farm because they directly enhance your honey collection via providing a good source of pollen for the bees & also, minimize their traveling distance for collecting honey. This causes fast & quality collection of honey.(Apiculture)

Equipment needed for Honey Bee Farming

For commercial bees keeping business, you need some essential equipment to conduct a different kind of activities in your bee farm.

Here is a list of all the equipment, which is essential for the bees farming. Acquire them

  1. Honey Extractor
  2. Bee venom Collector
  3. Smoker
  4. Food graded plastic made queen cage
  5. Queen gate
  6. SS hive tools of L shaped & curved shaped
  7. SS knives
  8. Pollen Trap
  9. Royal Jelly production & extraction Kit
  10. Thin & thick beekeeping brushes
  11. Iron hive tools of L shaped & curved shaped
  12. Hive gate
  13. Propolis Strip
  14. Queen Excluder
  15. Queen rearing kit

However, a visit to your nearby apiary is a good idea to know more about those essential of beekeeping business.

Management of bees for pollination in Apiculture

A good source of pollen for your bees is essential needs for your business because it directly influences your profit via enhancing rapid & quality honey collection.

To save your bees energy, it is better to place the honey collection hive near to any pollen yielding plants because they directly enhance your honey collection via providing a good source of pollen for the bees & also, minimize their traveling distance for collecting honey. This causes fast & quality collection of honey. Also, if you want to migrate the bees hive, then migrate them near to any yard, in the starting of flowering, just after that. Place honey collective hive to provide a site for your bees. It is likely more beneficial to place 5 hives for the Indian bees. Provide enough place to the bees for their collecting honey pollen & to store that collected honey.

Pests and Diseases in Apiculture

Pests of honey bees
1. Wax moths
The greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella L. (Galleriidae) enjoys world wide distribution and its occurrences has been noted from the very early days of Aristotle (38322 B.C.). In South India it is seen causing severe damage in the plains and lower altitudes but it is rare in high altitudes. It is one of the most observed throughout the year but more common and severe during July to October and November to December. (Apiculture)Combs of all the species of Apis are freely attacked. It is one of the most important enemies of the bee colony causing serious damage particularly to weak colonies where the number of bees are not sufficient enough to cover all the combs.

The insect can be controlled by frequent examination all the crevices of the hive and removing all debris. The excess of the hive not covered by the bees are removed and stored after fumigation with ethylene bromide. In the store rooms the spare should be stored in tightly closed containers.       

2. Ants
The black ant, Camponotus compressus, the-household red ant, Dorylus labiams and Monomorium spp. are dangerous enemies of the bee. They attack weak colonies and carry away the honey, pollen and the brood. Strong colonies are able to withstand the ants, but in weak colonies ant attack will result in destruction and end of the colony.(Apiculture)

By providing ant pans around the bases of the stand or oil bands over the stands ants can be kept away. Underground ant nests are eliminated by dusting of Methyl parathion or carbaryl or pouring 0.1% chlorpyriphos solution.(Apiculture)

3. Wasps
The yellow banded hornet, Vespa cincta F., is a large wasp with a broad transverse yield band on the abdomen. It is a social insect constructing papery nests in hollow spaces.  It waits area the entrance of the hive, catches bees as they come out, macerates them for feeding the juice to its young. It captures bee in the field also. By reducing the width of the alighting board of the hive, the wasps can be prevented from sitting near the entrance Wasp nests should be destroyed by burning them. V. tropica vat, haemotoides B. is also known to attack bees in India.

The bee hunter wasp, Palarus orientalis Kohl., is black in colour with transverse yellow lines on the abdomen. It catches bees while they are on flight. A wasp can collect about 20 bees a day, stings and carries them to its underground nest and places one in each of the compartments of the nest before laying an egg on the back of each bee. The grub on hatching feeds on the bee.         

In hilly regions another bee hunter wasp, Phyllanthus ramakrishnae T. attacks and carries away bees.

4. Wax beetles
The tenebrionid beetle, Platybolium alvearium B., is found in the hives under unhygienic conditions feeding on the debris and on old combs in weak colonies. Periodical examination of empty combs and regular cleaning of the bottom boards will control the enemy.(Apiculture)

5. Birds
King crow Dicrucus sp. and the bee cavers Merops spp. capture bees and devour them.(Apiculture)

6. Tracheal Mites
The tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi, causes Acarine disease of adults. The adult mites infest the prothoracic tracheae i.e. the first pair found on the thorax, and complete their life cycle there. They feed on the blood (haemolymph) by piercing with their mouthparts through the tracheal walls. It causes ‘K’ winged condition in bees, where the wings are held at unusual angle and bees are unable to fly. Bees are seen crawling in front of the hive.(Apiculture)

7. The parasitic mite Varroa destructor
These mites are ectoparasitic and attack both Indian and Italian bees. It feeds on early stage of lava and prepupa. The adult mites are broader than long. All the above mites can be managed by dusting micronized sulphur on the frames or by burning Folbex strips (Bromopropylate) as a fumigant inside the hive. The mites can also be controlled by keeping absorbent cotton soaked in 65 per cent formic acid.(Apiculture)

8. Bee mites
Mites are microscopic and are ecto or endo parasites of honeybees.

9. Brood mite, Tropilaelaps clareae
These mites are serious ectoparasites on brood and adults of Apis mellifera. They attack the brood and cause larval death. Perforations are seen on the brood cells. The adult mites are longer than brood.

10. Other enemies
The ‘death’s head’ moth, Acherontia styx enters hive and  consumes honey. Occasionally cockroaches enter weak colonies and impart a foul smell to the hive. The Robber bee, the leaf cutter bee Megachile disjuncta, dragon flies and preying mantids capture bees and feed upon them. Lizards, frogs toads capture bees at hive  entrances. Bears dismantle the hives and eat upon honey, pollen, brood and the bees. Termites damagewooden parts of the hive; to check this the stands should be painted with coal tar. The termite mounds seen near the apiary-aid be destroyed by applying 0.1% Chlorpyriphos solution into the nests. The nymphs and adults of the Arachnid, Ellingsenius indicus C., cling to adult workers in hilly regions

There are a number of diseases which affect the honeybee in India. Of the major diseases which affect honeybee are the Acarine and Nosema diseases of the adult bees and the brood diseases of larval stages.

1. Nosema Disease
This disease is caused by a protozoan, Nosema apis. The Nosema infestation leads to dysentery. The flies are unable to fly and void loose excreta on the combs, frames and ground in front of the hive. It mainly affects the flight during cold weather. An antibiotic known as Fumagillin is useful in controlling the infection. The drug is administered by giving a feed of 100 mg fumagillin per colony in 250 ml of sugar syrup for 10 days continuously.

2. Broad Diseases
Honey bee broods suffer from variety of diseases. Loss of brood affects the colony strength. Adult bees are not affected by brood diseases but they can spread the casual organisms. Brood diseases are more serious than adult diseases. Brood diseases of bees are described below.

a. European foul-brood
b. American foul-brood
c. Sac foul-brood 
d. Thai Sac brood virus (TSBV)
e. Chalk foul-brood and stone brood disease
Out these brood diseases, the European foul-brood disease and the Thai Sac-brood disease are common in India.

a. European foul-brood disease, Streptococcus pluton
 This disease was first noticed in Mahabaleshwar and is now widespread. The disease is believed to have been introduced along with Apis mellifera imported from exotic sources.

The disease is caused by non-spore-forming bacterium, Streptococcus pluton along with Bacillus alvei as secondary invader. The disease affects larvae of all castes. The symptoms are: the larvae turn watery, yellow then brown and lastly dark coloured.

The tracheal system becomes visible and larva dies in a coiled stage causing foul smell. In advanced stages, a hempy non-elastic thread is formed. Dead larvae are usually found in unkept cells with no predominant odour. Scales and larvae lie in any position.

The disease occurs at a time when there is active brood rearing. Cells are poorly capped and mixed with normal cells. The use of antibiotic terramycin is most effective in treating the disease.

Terramycin is given dissolved in sugar syrup @ 100 mg of active terramycin in a litre of syrup. The terramycin syrup (freshly prepared) is fed every seventh day.

The disease can also be controlled by fumigation with ethylene oxide. Quarantine is a must to prevent entry of any of the bee diseases.(Apiculture) 

b. American Foul Brood, Bacillus larvae
American foulbrood is a disease affecting the bee larvae and is caused by Bacillus larvae White.   The disease is prevalent in many tropical and sub-tropical countries.   In  U.S. it is the most destructive of all bee diseases causing annual losses of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The pathogen is a rod-shaped, flagellate, motile bacillus highly resistant to heat, desiccation and disinfectants. Larvae of workers, drones and queens are all infected through ingestion of spores with their food. The spores germinate in the gut, penetrate the gut wall usually at about the time of pupation and reach the haemolymph there they multiply in large numbers.

Youngest larvae are the most susceptible. The diseased larvae are removed and rejected by the nurse bees; those which are not thus removed die at the prepupal or pupal stage after they have spun their cocoons with their bodies stretched on their hack stand head inclined toward the cell cappings.{ apiculture }

They turn brown and putrefy emitting a disagreeable fishy odour. They dry and the cell cappings become dark coloured and sunk inwards. Now the adult bees repair the cells.

The infection is spread by the nurse bees engaged in cleaning the cells. The larvae which are reared in cells previously occupied by diseased have also become infected.  

During good nectar-flow periods the diseased colonies may recover but during dearth periods the loss at  be considerable.

The disease can be controlled by total destruction of the diseased colony including the hive, frames, bees and honey. In western countries some strains resistant to the have been evolved.

c. Sac-brood disease (SBV) 
Sac brood is a virus disease attacking Apis mellifera. The diseased larvae appear sac like and hence the name. But so far this disease is not reported in India.

d. Thai sac brood virus (TSBV)
The causative agent is Thai Sac-brood virus. This virus attacks specifically Apis cerena indica. The dead brood is found in propupal but sealed stage. The pupae turn into sac-like structures filled with lemon-coloured liquid at the posterior end.

In advanced stage, the larvae change their appearance from yellowish to brownish to black colour. No discernible foul odour is noticed. { apiculture }Many Indian bee colonies were destroyed by TSBV in South India during early 90s and caused severe loss to bee keeping industry. Noeffective method to control this disease is known as yet.

Prevention is better than cure. It is better to isolate the infected colonies. Combs from diseased colonies should not be used for any other purpose and dequeening the colony for a few days followed by requeening with a healthy queen from a strong colony is effective.

e. Chalk brood disease and stone brood disease
The fungus Ascosphaera apis that causes chalk brood only attacks larvae. { apiculture }When the spores are ingested, they germinate and mycelia grow through the body penetrating the epidermis and covering the pre-pupa in a short time-span. They cause mummification of the diseased larvae.

Harvesting of Bee Products

Friends! Honey bee keeping business is a multi purpose business. { apiculture }Along with honey collection, bee keeping business has many other products that should be harvested timely to get more profit from it. the main products beekeeping business are Bees Wax, Bee Venom, Honey, Propolis, Royal Jelly, & Pollen.

However, the main product is the Honey. Timely and proper harvesting of honey is more beneficial to the grower.{ apiculture }

So, for collecting good quality of honey, start collecting honey in the ending of flowering season. The method of collecting or harvesting honey varies on the basis of honey collecting hives, used for bee farming.{ apiculture }

Like in top-bar hives & in traditional hive, harvesting of only those comb should be done which contains ripen honey with fine layer sorrounded by white beeswax. However, there are many honey extractor equipment are available in the market. Acquire a good one & make use of it for honey extraction from super comb.{ apiculture }

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