The rearing of honey bees for honey and wax is known as Apiculture. It’s a branch of agricultural science that comes under Horticulture. Apiculture or beekeeping is the practice of maintaining honeybee colonies, usually in hives. This could be for collecting honey and beeswax, or for pollinating crops or selling bees to other beekeepers. About 85 percent of crop plants are cross-pollinated, and colonies of honeybees, placed in the field when the crop is in the flowering stage, can set about the needed pollination; abundance of pollinators helps in the early setting of seeds, resulting in early and more uniform crop yield.
Apiculture is also practiced as a part of agriculture all over India for many years. This is because maintaining a bee-hive does not require a huge amount of money or labor. It does not even require fertile land. Plus it gives many benefits to farmers as many plants and crops depend on bees for pollination. Honey and other products of a bee farm like Beeswax, Royal Jelly, and Bee Venom are of commercial value and can provide additional income to farmers.
A beekeeper will require Beekeeping Equipment and honey bees for starting his Apiary. Buy good honey bees and start with a Nucleus colony. In the beginning, you should start with the least colonies, two honey bee colonies will be sufficient. After gaining experience, you can go for commercial beekeeping.
The beekeeper should inspect the Beehives once every 7-10 days. Do not make things complex in the beginning, keep it as simple as you can. In the end, watch the result and don’t expect a high yield of honey in the first year. Continue practicing because till now you had acquired valuable pieces of information from your first attempt and apply them to the second one. Don’t worry you will surely get a better result next time. Now, below you will get all the information about beekeeping in a detailed way. So, here is a complete guide to Beekeeping in India.
1. Importance and scope of bee farming
The main advantages of bee farming are:
1. Obtain bee wax- demand for bee wax is high in the global and Indian markets as well. bee wax is used in various industries such as pharmaceutical, polishing, and cosmetic industries.
2. Pollination- honey bees play an excellent role in pollination. Honey bees are the best pollinating agents which help in increasing the yield of several crop varieties.
3. Nutritional value- honey has the most valuable nutritional food. Used in pharmaceutical industries.
4. Apiculture or beekeeping business is one of the greatest commercial agri-businesses.
5. It is easy and cheap to practices, thus reaps a lot of cash to the farmer.
6. Leave alone with getting honey on a commercial scale, other products like wax, royal jelly, and bee venom are also obtained from beekeeping.
7. Since India has lots of good varieties of flora pasturage, so bee farming is definitely a profitable business.
8. 50 million hectares of land is under the cultivation of oilseeds, pulses, orchards, and other crops useful to bees and benefitted by bee pollination.
9. India has a vast area of agriculture and forest so it may easily sustain at least one crore bee colonies.
10. Farmers can easily get bonus income through bee farming along with other agricultural crops.
11. In this farming practice men, women, and children can engage and get employment easily.
12. Beehives can be kept in the backyard or on housetops. No requirement for extra farmland.
13. Those who have the time and interest can manage several beehives and make beekeeping a profitable enterprise by selling surplus honey, wax, and other products.
A beekeeper should know the commercially important species of bees. Some of them are listed below:
2. Species of the honeybee-
The beekeepers rear only the following varieties of bees commercially-
1. Apis Dorsata: This is the biggest and largest species and commonly known as “Rock Bee”. It also has a famous name The Rock Bee. The Rock Bee (Apis Dorsata) is the highest honey-yielding bee species in India. At the same, they are difficult to domesticate since they are ferocious in nature.
2. Apis Indica: This Bee has another name, “The Indian Bee”. They are medium in size, unlike the Rock Bee. The Indian Bee (Apis Indica) is the easiest and Best Bee Species to Domesticate for Honey Bee Rearing.
3. Apis Florea: These are the smallest Indian Honey Bee Species “The Little Bee”.
4. Apis Mellifera: The other name of this Honey Bee is “The European Bee”. They produce some good honey yield like that of the Indian Bee.
3. Current status of bee keeping in India
A.BEE KEEPING INSTITUTES-
1. National Bee Board
2. Central Bee Research Training Institute
3. Inspection Council(EIC)
4. Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC)
5. Agricultural Products Export Development Authority(APEDA)
6. Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Of India Ltd.(TRIFED)
7. All India Bee Keeper’s Association
1. Marathwada Vikas Yojana
2. National horticultural mission
3. Western Ghats development progress
4. Prime minister employment generation progress
5. Scheme of ATMA through agricultural development
C. CURRENT STATUS OF BEE FARMING IN INDIA-
1. India ranked 9th in the top ten leading manufacturers of honey and honey products.
2. Honey producing units- 2.64 Lakhs.
3. No.of bee colonies-30 Lakhs
4. Production of honey per year-94500 metric tons
5. Export of Honey- 38000 metric tons
5. Import of honey- 400 metric tons
7. Estimated employment-3 lakh persons
8. Approximate 200 million bee colonies are required for enhancing crop yield and employment up to 215 persons.
In India, the bee farming business was run in very ancient times. Methods are different.
4. Methods of Bee-Keeping in India:
There are mainly two methods of bee farming
A. Indigenous method
A. Indigenous method of bee farming:
• This is the primitive and unplanned method of apiculture. In this method, two types of hives are used.
• Natural fixed combs prepared by bees on the walls or the branches of trees
• Artificial or man-made movable hives. These hives are made from wooden logs or earthen pots etc.
• In the indigenous method, the bees are first killed or made to escape from the hive with the help of smoke when the bees are at rest during the night.
The indigenous method further classified into two types based on honeycomb structure-
I.immovable structure: this type of practice was mainly done in villages from ancient times, the small structure is made in protected and secluded places. During the construction of houses, small permanent chambers are built in the outer walls of the houses for bees to construct their combs on the outer side of chambers a horizontal slit is made for the entries of the bees while on the inside wall a large opening is left for removable of the comb.
II.movable structures: Bee chambers are made up of hollow bags, empty wooden boxes, earthen pots, etc. which can be moved from place to place, and place in suitable positions for the bees.
Beekeeping has been practiced in India since ancient times. Therefore there are different ways of rearing honey bees. some of the themes are discussed below-
Bees are reared in clay pots in parts of south India. Air holes are punched in the pots, smeared with beeswax, and kept in gardens. They act as instruments to attract the swarms. Once the colony is set, another pot is inverted over this. Once the rains set in the pots are overturned and honey is harvested.
Trunks of trees or hollow wooden logs are used as hives. However, this is in altitudes above 1800m sea level.
These are common in the northern states like Jammu and Kashmir, parts of the Himalayas, etc. They are basically empty spaces on the eastern side wall of the house.
A modern beehive is a rectangular wooden box that can be easily moved. They have seven major components:
It is a support structure that forms the base of the hive. It generally has four legs.
It is a drawer-like tray that is raised on all four sides by runners. However, in front, it is an alighting board so that the tray can be pulled out if need be.
Unlike the name, it is not a box but a frame rectangular frame in which scooped shelves are cut. They are cut along the length of the box.
They are again wooden frames with the sides serving as top and bottom bars. The under-surface is grooved to serve as the receptacle for the edge of the comb foundation. The top bars extend beyond the rest of the brood box. The comb foundation is supported by four wires fixed between sidebars. These wires act as mid-rib. The cells are constructed by the bees on the sides of the frames. The frames are kept apart to leave enough bee space.
This is a wired frame. The size of the wire is big enough for the workers to pass through but not for the queen. Hence the queen has to stay in the brood box which is between the brood and super chamber.
This is the chamber wherein honey is stored. The frames are similar to the brood box except that they are shorter in height. Since it is used for storing honey, this chamber is also called the honey chamber.
The hives have two covers on top inner and outer. The inner cover protects the bee nest and maintains the humidity and temperature within the hive. The outer cover, on the other hand, acts as a roof and provides protection from rain and sun. The wooden planks also have ventilation holes in them.
No beehive can function without honeybees. The combs and bees are removed from their natural nests and placed in the wooden hive. This practice is normally done in the early morning or late evening. The weather is typically clear and the sun is mild during this period. Another way is to place decoy hives at different spots. The spots must be places wherein the bees are likely to swarm. Once a swarm settles, the decoy hive is taken and the colony is transferred to the movable hive frame. Since the workers do not stay in a hive without the queen, a queen’s presence is necessary. Generally, when a colony is procured it must contain a young queen bee and a swarm of worker bees.
Queen Rearing or requeening
Although queen bees can lay eggs for 3 years, on average they can lay fertilized eggs for a year or a maximum of two years. After this period they start laying unfertilized eggs. This affects the colony. Generally, farmers revive the colonies by placing another queen bee. This process is called requeening. In apiculture, farmers are advised to requeen their hives after every one and half year.
B. Modern method of bee keeping.
In this method, a two-tier structure is made. The chambers can be removed from or added to, as required. The beehive is made up of wooden boxes. It has a basal plate or bottom board on which wooden boxes are placed and called a Brood chamber. A small opening at the bottom of the brood chamber is made for the passage for bees. Inside the brood chamber, several frames hang vertically from the top. These frames can be removed independently. For this arrangement, a modern hive is also called a movable frame hive. Another chamber is placed just above the brood chamber; this chamber should be a lesser height. The main reason for placing the extra chamber is for the storage of honey.
Here are some essential tools and equipment you will need to get started on the journey of beekeeping:
5. BEE KEEPING EQUIPMENT
HIVES: hives are the places where bee lives. Hives provide weather protection, insulating dead air spaces; provide space for storage of surplus honey. A Queen excluder – placed between the brood nests in the hive. This device keeps the queen in the brood nest so brood will not occur in honey supers. Hive body or brood chamber – large wooden box (called a “super”) that holds 10 frames of comb. This space (the brood nest) is reserved for the bees to rear brood and store honey for their own use. Bottom board – wooden stand on which the hive rests. Set the bottom board on bricks or concrete blocks to keep it off the ground. Hive stand – Supports the hive off the ground to keep hive bottom dry and insulates hive.
FRAMES: Frames are rectangles that hang inside of a hive-like filing system. The bees will build their comb inside of these frames. This is where they brood, lay the eggs and finally make money.
SMOKER: A smoker is the most valuable tool for working bees. A smoker calms bees and reduces stinging. Pine straw, grass, and burlap make good smoker fuel.
HIVE TOOL: A hive tool is another very inexpensive tool but it is one I would consider a necessity. It is basically the glue that holds everything together, and they also use it for insulation purposes as well.
QUEEN CATCHER: A queen catcher is a handy tool to have when you want to keep the queen separated for a while. A prime example of this is when you are going through your hives. Sometimes it is easier to place her in this catcher so you don’t lose her in the process.
BEE SUIT: There are so many designs of bee dress are available in the market such as Amazon etc
VEIL & GLOVES: These protect the head and arms from stings. After they gain experience, many beekeepers prefer to work without gloves.
FEEDER: Feeders hold sugar syrup fed to bees any time during the year that energy demands are high but natural nectar is not available. Syrup can be placed in plastic food bags which are placed on top of brood combs and enclosed in an empty super (Fig. 7). The beekeeper gives bees access to the syrup by cutting a 5-inch slit in the top of the bag with a razor knife.
BEES: The beekeeper has to arrange a package of honey bees. this package also contains a queen bee, several worker bees, a feeder loaded with sugar syrup.
THE QUEEN: The queen plays an important role in this practice. Although queen bees can lay eggs for 3 years, on average they can lay fertilized eggs for a year or a maximum of two years. After this period they start laying unfertilized eggs. This affects the colony. Generally, farmers revive the colonies by placing another queen bee
HONEY EXTRACTOR: It is used for the extraction of honey from the frames without hurting the bees and comb. It consists of a metal drum with many pockets and a rotating wheel. The honey is taken out from the drum.
BEE BRUSH: Bee brushes are used for separating bees from the honey frame
6.Prevention of Desertion:
Bees are known to desert their hives. To overcome this problem, a beekeeper should know the main reasons why bees do desertion:
• There is an external threat from enemies and pests.
• There is a dearth of floral broods.
• There is a scarcity of food.
• Climate and weather conditions
• Mass death of honeybees due to some reason.
Solution: Recent research has found that insecticide used in orchards is a great threat to honeybees and it causes desertion and mass death of honeybees. The best practice is to keep the beehives near the organic farms that are practicing integrated pest management.
7. Honey Harvesting
Generally, honey is harvested at the end of the flowering season. Traditionally the hives are puffed with smoke so that the bees fly away. Then the combs are removed and squeezed in cloth to extract honey. In the case of clay pots, the pots are broken and the comb is squeezed.
In wooden beehives, honey is accumulated in the honey chamber. When one honey chamber is full and the honey is ripening, another chamber is inserted just below the filled chamber and just above the brood chamber. This process is repeated as and when each chamber gets full and the honey is left to ripe naturally. Once the combs start getting sealed, it is an indication that the honey is ripe and that it is time to extract them. The hives are then smoked and bees are dropped back into the hive by jerking the frame. The honey chambers or frames are then gathered and brought indoors for extraction. The sealing is cut open and kept into the honey extractor machine. The extractor is rotated at 300 rpm and the honey flows out owing to the centrifugal force. The frames are then placed back in the movable hive.
8. Diseases of bees:
Bees suffer from different diseases and are very often subjected to cure. The organisms for contagious diseases are Aspergillus, Viruses, Mites and protozoan.
9. Profit and loan availability for the bee farming business:
The demand for raw and pure natural honey is rising in the country. Honey is the main product that is selling commercially by the beekeepers to the sellers. Beside the honey some other products such as wax, jelly, bee venom and last but not the least is bee venom has great demand in industries.
For starting this business govt. Banks providing loans that everyone can easily get . A bee farmer can easily get 2 to 5 lakhs loan.
Here are some documents you needed at the time of applying for the loan.
10. Documents needed for loans and subsidies:
A valid Adhar card
Applicants photo ID proof
Duly Filled Application form.
Kisan Credit Card.
Identity Proof: Voter ID, PAN card, Aadhar Card, Ration card, etc.
Address Proof: Utility Bills (Electricity/Water Bills), Voter ID, Aadhar Card,
Income Proof: Bank Statement, ITR, etc.
There are some govt. Shams which grants loans and subsidies for bee farming-
Top Five Subsidies under Government Schemes
1.Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKYY)- Under this scheme the state government provides 100% grants to the farmers depending upon their prospective projects.
2. National Food Security Mission (NFSM)- Under this scheme the subsidies are being provided to the farmers for the development of the machineries to improve the productivity of the farms.
3. Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI)- It is a sub-scheme under the integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing.
the scheme under this scheme, beneficiaries are being provided subsidy at the rate of 25% to 33.33% for creation of the storage infrastructure in the farm.
4. Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India Scheme (BGREI)- Under this scheme two types of subsidies are being provided to the farmers.
One is at the rate of 50% of the cost of procurement, storage creation, marketing, infrastructure and such and another subsidy of 100% for the community assets under this scheme.
5.National Horticulture Mission (NHM)- Under this scheme there are different types of market subsidies that are provided for the improvement of the Horticultural products.
Here are some bees keeping farms near my place:
11.BEE KEPING NEAR ME:
1.5 (2) • Honey farm
Open 24 hours • 081238 90892
2.Honey Poultry ,C/O Khalid Bhai
5.0 (3) • Poultry farm
Jamuniya, Madhya Pradesh
4.5 (2) • General store
Janki Nagar, Vijay Nagar
4.MAA NARMADA VERMICOMPOST
4.4 (11) • Agricultural service
Shop no.8 SG SQUARE GRENADE CHOWK
Open 24 hours • 076111 11195
5.Modi Organic Farm House
4.8 (33) • Farm
Gram Nibhora, Chattarpur,, Vikash Khand / Tahshil – Panagar
Open 24 hours
6.7.B-Hive Organic Farm ( मधुमक्खी पालन केंद्र )
4.8 (5) • Farm
Sonpur, Madhya Pradesh
8.Buzzing Bees: 100% Raw and Organic Honey
5.0 (5) • Honey farm
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
No reviews • Honey farm
10.Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya
4.5 (229) • College
Beekeeping in India is thus an important agri-business that promises good returns to the farmers and helps increase agricultural productivity. Honeybee farming in India is also a good source of income for the farmers especially during the period when the growth of the crop is still under process. However, a good amount of training and trials are required for a successful honey bee farm.