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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.


Honey Bee Keeping

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



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

Aprajita Srivastava

Course Material

Text lessons -3

Video in English -2

Video in Hindi-3



Requirements for having beehives

Video lesson with Hindi narration

Text lesson (choose your language from top)

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.



Honeybee Keeping

Video lesson with English narration

Text lesson (choose your language from top)

This lesson is based on the course conducted by Dr.S. N. Rai, Senior Scientist, BAU Sabour, Bihar, India. The participants are students and farmers of the nearby area. In this lesson you will learn about various aspects of bee keeping.
Beekeeping is the maintenance of bee colonies, commonly in man-made hives, by humans. Honey bees, along with other pollinating insects, are crucial to the horticulture industry and to the vitality of our own gardens. As a result, more and more homeowners are choosing to maintain their own beehives. The beekeeping is also known as apriculture. It is practiced for getting honey, Bee wax, Bee pollen, flower pollen, Royal Jelly.
First know the basics:
Only one queen exists for the entire colony. Her main task is reproduction.
Male bees are called drone. Their task is to fertilize queen and die instantly after mating.
Worker bees are female and their job is to clean the cells, care for the queen, feed brood, build wax.

Steps to start:
1. Buy bees. January is the time to order your bees for shipment or pickup in April or May.
2. Choose Hives: Two main systems are used in beekeeping. One is called the Langstroth hive, and it’s composed of boxes that are stacked on top of each other, each containing frames where the bees build their comb and store honey. You pull the boxes out like drawers to access the bees, harvest honey, and perform maintenance tasks. You can add boxes vertically if your hive needs more space. The other is a top-bar hive, where the bees’ frames are arranged horizontally, not vertically.
3. Introduce Bees to the Hive: set up the hive and get them settled. You need to safely and comfortably introduce the bees to their new home.

4. Keep Your Bees Healthy and Happy: bees need ongoing care. keep your bees happy. you can organize beekeeping tasks by the season, from setting the bees up in spring to harvesting honey, to preparing the hive for winter.

5. Feed Bees: sugar syrup, sugar candy, pollen patties, honey, can be used as feed when there is poor nectar flow.
6. Inspecting the beehive every 7 or 10 days: A standard beehive consists of a series of stacked boxes, some of which are intended to hold honey for collection, others that contain the brood colony. An upper box holding honey is often known as a honey super, while a lower box holding the brood colony goes by several names, including brood box, deep super, deep box, or deep. Between the honey supers and the brood boxes, there may be a flat screen known as the queen excluder, though this is not found on all hives. This component is designed to keep the queen focused on reproduction while worker bees fill the honey supers with honey.
Inspect the Frames
One at a time, carefully pry each frame free using your hive tool, then lift up the frame and inspect it:
• Try to identify the queen. This is easier if she’s marked, but it’s still possible if she isn’t. Look for her long, slender, unstriped abdomen and for a circle of workers around her. If you can’t find the queen, it’s important to find eggs, which indicate the queen was there in the past one to three days.
• Check for any parasites or pests—mites, wax moth larvae, foulbrood, etc.
• Determine how many frames are drawn out—filled with comb ready for honey. When seven of 10 frames are drawn in the bottom deep box, it’s time to add the second deep box. When seven of 10 are drawn in the second deep, add a honey super. If the honey super is close to full, add another one.
Part of inspecting the frames is looking for brood—capped and uncapped larvae and eggs. Shown here is a beautiful pattern of developing, uncapped larvae—this is what you’re looking for in your beehive inspection.

7. Identifying eggs is the most important part of the beehive inspection for the new beekeeper, but beginners often find the eggs difficult to spot. Eggs look like thin grains of rice.
8. Pest management: proper pesticide not to harm bees.
9. Profit earned by Mellifera variety is about 340 000 with an investment of about INR 100,000.
For further details, please watch our next video on the subject.



Caring of bee hive

Video lesson with English narration

Text lesson (choose your language from top)

How to Maintain and Care for a Beehive

  1. During rainy or lean season bee hives become empty. They are to be stored and protected from enemy insects.The major bee enemies are wax moths, wasps, birds, ants, hive beetles, mites, mice and bear which destroy the raised combs, hives and hive parts, catch and kill bees, eat away the food reserves and result in reduced productivity.
  2. Repair or replace damaged parts.

Repairing and replacing the damaged parts strengthens the entire hive and makes it more resistant to weather, animals, and other destructive agents.

  1. Install entrance blocks.

Entrance blocks are used to narrow the hive openings. They prevent heat loss in winter, while allowing adequate ventilation. They also prevent strange bees and other insects from accessing the hive interior.

  1. Install excluders and supers.

Excluder is designed to prevent the queen from laying eggs in the honey super. It has small holes to allow young worker bees pass through into the honey super.

  1. Replace any lost beeswax.

Beeswax is quite important in a hive. It is used by the bees to make the combs. It also used by the insects to line the structure interior, making it more comfortable. In addition, it strengthens the whole structure when it hardens in the joints.

Beeswax can be lost when harvesting honey or maintaining the hive, so be careful not to interfere with it when handling the structure. If you accidentally detach the wax from the surfaces, you need to place it back.

  1. Install a rain cover and shade structure.

To keep your hive safe from rainwater, you need to install a rain cover to prevent rain drops from falling directly on the structure. To shade your structure from direct sun, you need to install a shade structure, but you can also use the rain cover if it can provide shade.

Beehive with rain shelter

  1. Provide adequate ventilation.

Proper ventilation can keep a hive free from the damaging effects of condensation, freezing and high temperatures.

  1. Provide a windbreak.

To shield your hive from destructive winds, you can install a windbreak in the form of a fence consisting of strong posts and sheets of strong materials. You can also use trees and shrubs as a windbreak, but this may require you to move your hive to a place shielded by plants.

Beehive with tree an shrub for wind break9. Control woodlice and termites.

Woodlice and termites feed on wood which means that they can destroy your wooden hive if they are allowed to breed around the structure. They are more destructive in dry seasons and common in old or rotting woods.

When it comes to controlling these organisms, you can employ soil treatment methods, liquid insecticides or baits.

  1. Protect it from bears, raccoons, skunks, and mice.

 Bears destroy hives and feed on honeycombs, causing a big loss to the beekeeper. To control bears, you can install a strong fence around your hive.

Raccoons are not as disastrous as bears, but they are still a big problem in beekeeping. They are well known to access the interior of a hive from the top side, so you can deal with them by placing a big stone on the top cover.

Skunks and mice also destroy beehives. They bore holes on these structures, making them unsuitable for keeping bees. Mice, in addition, build nests on the structures, interfering with the bees.

To control skunks, you need to place your hive on an elevated stand. As for the mice, you need to install a mouse guard at the hive entrance and destroy their nests which are common in autumn.


Honeybee Quizzes

You have completed Lesson-1 that covered:

Bee keeping

Caring of honeybees

Maintenance of hive

Now take the following test: