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Honeybee keeping

Learning objectives

After completing the course

The learner will have a good understanding of creating artificial hives and produce honey and added products.

Curriculum

Background

Beekeeping in India is a growing trend. Honey bee farming in India can be done as a stand alone commercial honey bee farm or can be integrated with crops to increase the crop yield and get additional income from honey. Beekeeping is as old as history. Honeybees have found a place in literature, philosophy, art, folklore and even architecture. In fact, maintaining a beehive in a farm promises additional income to farmers. In addition, it does not require huge investments, infrastructure or even a fertile land to start bee farming in India. In agricultural, honey bees do not compete with the crops for resources. On the other hand, it helps increase agricultural productivity. This is because bees play an important role in pollinating many plants. Sunflowers and such other crops are highly dependent on bees for pollination. Honey produced by bees is of high commercial value. When honey is collected from the forests by traditional method, the bee colonies are destroyed. By raising them in artificial hives the colonies are preserved.

Course Coordinator

Prof. Dr. H. O. Srivastava

Lesson-1

Scientific cultivation of paddy

  1. 1. Bee keeping
  2. 2. Caring of honeybees
  3. 3. Maintenance of hive

Audio Lessons

Requirements for having beehives

Selecting a site to put your bees (apiary)

– near fresh water supply not contaminated water.

– easy for beekeeper to reach and work.

– near food sources for bees need flowering plants for nectar (honey), bee glue, and pollen (protein).

– on the top of a hill or high ground so water and air will drain away from hives.

– not on wet, swampy, lowland or in deep, humid woods, honey will not cure properly and bees could be subject to fungal diseases.

– facing east, south-east to catch early warmth of sun; entrances should be pointed away from monsoon winds.

– provide a wind-break to keep hives from being blown over in high winds and noontime shade during the dry hot seasons.

– away from floods and open fires.

– keep brush, vines, and weeds cleared away from hives; hives should be placed on a stand, (not directly on the ground) to keep out ants and other pests.

– nearby the beekeeper’s house to discourage mischief-makers.

– away from areas heavily sprayed with insecticides.

– away from people, animals, etc.

Requirements for bees

What bees need to live

– Flowers supply both nectar and pollen for bees. Nectar is a liquid sugar solution that flowers manufacture. Since it contains mostly water; the bees must evaporate it to make honey which has about 18% water in it. The different flavors and colors of honey depend on the types of flowers the bees collected the nectar from. Honey is stored in the beewax cell.

Pollen comes from the male part of the flower; it is a powdery dust which comes off when rubbed by the bees. This pollen fertilizes the female part of the flower and produces the fruit, seed or vegetable. Bees collect this pollen by means of special hairs on its body, and return to the hive with it.

Pollen is packed into a wax cell, and then it is topped with honey, to preserve it; this is called bee bread. It is very important to have bee bread in the hive, for it means hat the young bees and brood will have something to eat. A colony can use up to 100 pounds (50 kg.) of pollen in one season.

– Beewax is secreted by the young worker bees to make the honeycomb. All their honey, pollen, and brood (immature bees) are stored inside the wax comb cells. In order for bees to make wax, they need to eat large amounts of honey or sugar syrup and pollen. Some beekeepers place a sheet of beewax called foundation, in a frame, to help guide the bees as they build the cells.

– Water is important to bees. In hot, dry weather the interior of the hive could become overheated. If this occurred, the brood could ‘cook’ and the wax could begin to melt. Bees prevent this; they collect water and place it in the comb then fan it with their wings to evaporate the water.

This ‘air-conditioning’ cools the hive down. In very hot climates, the hives should be placed so they get noontime shade; painting the hives white will also help reflect sunlight.

– Bees use the sticky sap from trees and flower buds to make “bee glues” or propolis. This gummy material is collected to seal cracks and holes, and to water-proof the hive, it also kills micro-organisms that would otherwise invade and live in small cracks.

III. Obtaining Bees

  1. Where to get bees

– A SWARM is a colony of bees clustered in the opening, not inside a hive box. They are looking for a new home. The Beekeeper can capture the swarm by placing it into a temporary or permanent hive.

Objectives: To demonstrate and inform beginner beekeepers how to handle bees and what to look for in a hive when examining bees.

  1. Handling Bees

  2. How to minimize stings

– work on days when bees are flying well since half of the foraging bees will normally be out; do not work when it in too windy, rainy or cold since all the bees will be at home.

– wear light-colored protective clothing and a veil. Make sure that ankles and wrists are closed in case bees start to crawl up. Beginning beekeepers will want to wear gloves for confidence; but gloves should not be used all the time. The best time to wear them is when transferring bees from a wild hive to a framed hive. Bee stings leave a scent on the gloves, so be sure to wash gloves periodically.

– use smoke lightly; this makes bees eat honey and they will be eating honey instead of stinging you.

– when working bees, use gentle, slow movement so the bees will not be alarmed. Crushed bees cause alarm in the hive so move frames slowly.

– remain calm and work slowly, if you are nervous, or have an odor that alarms bees (hair tonic, horse smells) the bees will be more likely to sting you.

– if stung, scrape away sting barb; do not pull it out as this will inject you with more venom. Smoke the sting area as the venom loaves an odor “tag” which will excite other boos to sting you.

  1. What to look for:
  2. The Queen

– when you find her, be careful that she doss not become crushed or drop on the ground. The queen is generally found around the warm broadnest or nearest the eggs and uncapped larvae.

  1. Eggs

– when you look at a frame of uncapped larvae, check the frame carefully, and you might see eggs. If the hive has no eggs, or you cannot see brood, or the queen, you may consider the hive to be queenless. Requeen it by either giving it a queen cell, a new queen, or joining it to a “queen-right” hive.

  1. Starvation

– when there is no honey or pollen in the hive, the bees may be more aggressive, and stop producing wax. When you do not see any stored honey or pollen in your hive, feed your bees white sugar and pollen substitute. If you are using the hive to make queens, feed the bees sugar syrup.

This ‘air-conditioning’ cools the hive down. In very hot climates, the hives should be placed so they get noontime shade; painting the hives white will also help reflect sunlight.

– Bees use the sticky sap from trees and flower buds to make “bee glues” or propolis. This gummy material is collected to seal cracks and holes, and to water-proof the hive, it also kills micro-organisms that would otherwise invade and live in small cracks.

III. Obtaining Bees

Where to get bees

– A SWARM is a colony of bees clustered in the opening, not inside a hive box. They are looking for a new home. The Beekeeper can capture the swarm by placing it into a temporary or permanent hive.

Video Lessons

Honeybee Quizzes

You have completed Lesson-1 that covered:

Bee keeping

Caring of honeybees

Maintenance of hive

Now take the following test: