The study of human anatomy and physiology is one of the crucial Biology Topics for medical professionals and researchers.
The Apiculture – Overview of Beekeeping
Beekeeping or apiculture (L. apis = bee; culture = cultivate) is the rearing, care, and management of honey bees for obtaining honey, wax, and other substances. Honey is known to have medicinal value. It is found to be quite useful in the treatment of various disorders of humans related to digestion, dysentery, vomiting, and stomach or liver ailments. Honey is considered a blood purifier, a cure for cough, cold sore throat, ulcers of the tongue, ulcers of the stomach and intestine, etc. Since honey is rich in iron and calcium, it helps in the growth of the human body. Honey is also used as a source of sugar in confectionery items such as pastries, cakes, etc. Visualizing these important uses of honey, beekeeping has been undertaken on a commercial basis as a business. Beekeeping, a low-investment enterprise, has become a favourite source of extra income for Indian farmers. Beekeeping also helps in the cross-pollination of flowers of crop plants, since pollens are transferred from one flower to another by bees while they are collecting the nectar.
Systematic Position of Honey Bee
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Sub-phylum: Mandibulata
- Class: Insecta
- Subclass: Pterygota
- Order: Hymenoptera
- Family: Apidae
- Genus: Apis
- Apis dorsata
- Apis indica
- Apis florea
- Apis mellifera
What is Apiculture?
The method pertaining to the culture of honey bees by artificial methods and collection of honey from bee hive is called apiculture. The site used for the culture of honey bees by scientific method is known as the apiary. Honey bees are conserved in a Langstroth frame i.e., a scientific way.
Apis dorsata (Giant Bee)
- It is the largest species, so it is called a giant bee.
- They are wild, ferocious, and cannot be domesticated. They build their hives in the branches of big trees, ceilings of deserted buildings, and caves.
- The production of honey per hive is 60 lb.
- The queen is bigger and more black than a worker bee.
Apis indica (Indian Bee)
- They are distributed in forests and plain land.
- They build their hives in holes, walls of the old houses, holes of the trees, etc. They build 8-10 hives together.
- The hives are smaller in size. They are gentle and easily domesticated.
Apis florea (dwarf bee)
- They are small and found only in plains.
- They build only one hive.
- They are not domesticated. The queen is golden brown, the drone is black and the abdomen of the worker bee is orange.
- They build their hives on the branches of trees, under the walls of buildings, etc.
Apis mellifera (European bee)
- They are slightly more black than other species.
- The average production of honey per year is 45-182 kg.
- They are easily domesticated. In India, they are not cultivated because they get easily infected.
Colony and Castes of Honey Bee
The honey bee is a social insect. The nest of the honey bee is known as the bee hive. Honey bees provide a good example of teamwork and division of labour. In nature, honey bees raise their nests, called hives, on tall trees in forests or cities and even on tall buildings in urban areas. Compartments made by workers with the wax of their wax glands are called combs. A comb is a vertical sheet of wax, composed of a double layer of hexagonal cells. The hexagonal shape of cells contains maximum space with minimum use of wax and labour. Storage cells of the comb contain honey and pollen. Brood cells contain young stages and are of three types: worker cells, drone cells, and queen cells. The queen cell is single and largest. Adults do not live in cells but move on the surface of the comb.
Honey bees live in a colony and different tasks are done by different groups of bees in the same colony. A colony of Italian bees normally has one queen, 40,000 to 100,000 workers, and a few hundred (up to 300) drones. Due to the existence of several morphological forms, called castes, bees are said to be the polymorphic species. A caste can be defined as a collection of individuals within the colony that are morphologically distinct from individuals in other castes and perform specific tasks.
Types of Honey Bees
Honey bees are a type of social insect and they live by forming colonies. In a bee colony, there are various types of bees and these types are queens, drones, and workers. Characteristic features and importance of the different types of honey bees are given below.
queen is the principal character in a bee colony and in a beehive normally one queen is present. The queen bee is meant for the production of eggs in the beehive and she is taken care of by the workers present in the colony. In her lifetime, the queen bee mates once with the male or drone in the colony One queen bee usually lives for 2-3 years. When the queen becomes old and inactive, the worker bees kill her. Except during the formation of a new colony the queen bee always lives in the beehive.
The body size of the queen is much larger than other castes of bees in the colony. Her legs are strong for she is always walking about on the comb. The queen, as the mother of the colony, is responsible for laying eggs. She lays up to 2000 eggs every day of each season. Queen lays both fertilized (diploid, 2ri) and unfertilized (haploid, 2n) eggs. Queen and workers emerge from the fertilized eggs, whereas drones come out from unfertilized eggs. Thus, queens are larger, they mate, lay eggs, eat proteinaceous food, and often do not forage or defend the colony.
Eggs of queen hatch into white, legless larvae that spin delicate silken cocoons around themselves and turn into pupae. Each pupa develops into an adult. The adult comes out by cutting the wall of the cocoon first and secondly by breaking the wax cap of the cell. During the first 2 to 3 days, all larvae of bees are fed on a special proteinaceous food, called “Royal jelly” or bee milk which is secreted by the hypopharyngeal glands of the young workers. After that coarser food, the “Bee Bread”, which is a mixture of honey and pollen grain is given. However, the queen-forming larvae are fed on royal jelly for full larval life and these larvae are also taken for further development into a special chamber called the queen’s chamber or cell.
Characters of Queen:
- Largest in size among the other bees in the colony (15-20 mm).
- The abdomen is elongated and tapering towards the end.
- Wings are comparatively short in comparison to the body.
- Legs are quite stout.
- At the terminal end of the abdomen, there is the curved ovipositor, like a stinging organ.
- Genetically the queen is diploid in nature.
- She may lay about 2,000 eggs in a day. The eggs may be fertilized or unfertilized. From the fertilized eggs female and workers are developed. The unfertilized eggs give the drones.
- The queen bee performs nuptial flight during mating with males. During mating the female stores the male gametes in spermatheca for many days.
- A diploid larva fed with royal jelly by the workers in the bee hive develops into the female honey bee.
Functions of the Queen:
The function of the queen bee is only to lay eggs. Construction of beehives, collection of nectar, taking care of the larvae, etc., in the beehive are the functions of the workers only.
In a colony, there remain several drones. The drones are fertile and can perform mating with the female. During the nuptial flight, only one drone from a colony performs mating with the female, and after mating the male dies. After about 10 days of its birth, the male is capable of mating. Normally a male lives for 50-60 days. The drones are usually lazy and do not collect food, but take enough food collected by the workers. During the breeding season, the workers take care of the males in the colony, but they are driven out of the colony during the rainy season and in winter.
It is a haploid, fertile male. Drones are larger in size than workers and are quite noisy. They are unable to gather food, but eat voraciously. Drones are stingless and their main role is to mate with the queen and remain in the colony to sleep and eat honey. Since their role is only in the breeding season, therefore, they are made to leave the hive to save honey from them.
Characters of Drones:
- Body well built and small in length, however, a male is larger than a worker.
- The male is haploid and fertile in nature.
- Males can participate with the females in nuptial flight.
- Drones are mainly produced by the process of parthenogenesis.
- They mate with the queen and their number in the colony is not much.
Functions of Drones:
Male participates with female in the process of reproduction. Males do not participate in any work in the colony.
The diploid larvae which grow by taking honey and bee bread, develop into workers. In a bee colony, the workers constitute about the whole population in the colony. The worker is a diploid, sterile female (i.e., it can not reproduce). The size of the worker is the smallest among the castes of bees. Workers are the most active members of the colony; they have almost all responsibilities on their shoulders. For various indoor and outdoor chores, the workers are provided with a variety of organs such as hypopharyngeal glands (for secretion of bee milk), wax glands (for building the cells of comb), pollen baskets on their hind legs (for the collection of pollen), sucking type mouth parts (for collecting the nectar), high level of secretion of invertase enzyme (in the honey sac for honey formation) and a sting at the tip of the abdomen (for the defense of the colony).
Workers live for 3 to 12 months. The function of workers changes with age. During the first half of their life, workers are engaged in indoor duties as scavengers, nurse bees, fanner bees, and guard bees. During the second half, they perform outside duties as scout bees and forager bees, the worker of a hive fall under three major age groups. These are
- Scavenger bees: For the first three days, each worker bee acts as a scavenger. Cleaning the walls and floor of empty cells of the colony for reuse.
- Nurse bees: From the fourth day onwards, each worker bee feeds the entire brood, like a foster mother, with a mixture of honey and pollen. By the seventh day, it starts producing royal jelly, which is fed to the queen and future queen bees. Nurse bees also perform guard duties. They defend the colony from intruders. They kill the intruder by stinging but also get killed with the loss of sting.
- Foraging or field bees: They explore new sources of nectar (as scout bees). Forager bees collect nectar, pollen, and propolis. Nectar is changed into honey in their crops.
Worker bees tend to maintain a constant temperature of the bee hive by their behaviour, i.e., by flapping their wings for cooling and by huddling together for warming. Forager bees communicate about the location of the foraging grounds with their colony mates in the form of round-dance and waggle-dance. For decoding the meaning of these dances, an Austrian zoologist Karl von Frisch (1886-1982) took 20 years of research and got a Nobel Prize in 1973 for his discovery. Helping behaviour existing between members of a social group (workers) is called altruism (which means self-sacrifice).
Characters of Workers:
- Worker honey bee is smaller in size than other types of bees.
- The wings of the workers are stout enough and help in rapid flapping.
- The legs of the workers contain pollen sacs.
- Ventrally at the abdomen, there is a wax gland.
- At the posterior end of the body, there is a stinging organ.
- The head carries a sucking tube.
- The worker is diploid in the genetic constitution like a female, but they are sterile. Hence, they may be taken as sterile females.
- The average life span of a worker is 50 days.
- During winter and spring, they have to work hard, and therefore, in this period their life span is reduced. They can live only for 6 weeks at this time.
Functions of Workers:
- Construction of the beehive.
- Collection of honey and nectar.
- Cleaning of the beehive.
- Rearing of the juveniles.
- Guarding the beehive.
- Serving the females and drones in the colony.
The following table shows the division of labour of worker bees according to age:
|Age (in Days)
|Cleaning of the beehive cell.
|Providing food to the larvae.
|Providing food to the young larvae.
|Cleaning of the hive and other works.
|Receiving nectar from the collector bees.
|Wax secretion and participation in beehive construction.
|20 & above
|24 & above
|Guarding the colony.
According to work, the worker bees are of the following types:
- Nursery bees
Life Cycle of Honey Bee
There are four stages in the life cycle of the honey bee, i.e., egg, larva, pupa, and imago.
During the nuptial flight, the queen and drone mate, and then the queen returns to the beehive. The queen lays eggs at a rate of about 2,000 eggs per day. The eggs are white and elliptical in shape. The queen and worker bees develop from the fertilized egg, whereas, the drones develop from the unfertilized eggs.
After three to four days of egg laying, eggs hatch into larvae. Each larva has with spindle-shaped body having no eyes or legs. Initially, the larvae are fed with royal jelly and then only a few are given royal jelly and the rest are given honey and bee bread. The larvae which are given royal jelly throughout develop into queens and the others develop into workers and drones.
The larvae turn into pupa after 4-5 days of their larval life. The pupa remains within a cell of the beehive when its mouth is closed with wax. The pupa does not take any food and after 7-15 days the pupa is metamorphosed into adult or imago.
Pupal development becomes complete with the emergence of the imago. At this stage, the imago comes out of the cell by cutting its mouth.
Products of Beehive
Honey is the main product from the beehive and honey is actually an aqueous solution of sugar containing little mineral salt, vitamins, enzymes, protein, and various flavoured components. Worker honey bees after collecting nectar from different plants store it in their crop with the help of enzymes from salivary glands. Sugar is converted into glucose, fructose, and levullose. The honey bees then regurgitate the honey from the crop to the honey cell and constantly blow air with the help of their wings. With this water is evaporated and honey is prepared from the regurgitated materials.
Honey is a sweet, viscous edible fluid containing sugars, water or moisture, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and pollen. Sugars present in honey include levulose, dextrose, sucrose, and dextrin. Minerals of honey are calcium, iron, phosphate, and manganese. Vitamins present in honey are pantothenic acid, biotin, Pyridoxin, choline, ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. The colour, flavour, and odour of honey usually depend on the flowers from which nectar is gathered. One kilogram of honey contains 3200 calories and is an energy-rich food.
Constitution of Honey:
|Amount in %
|Others (Vitamin, Amino Acid, Pigment)
Uses of Honey:
The uses of honey are multifold as
- Honey produces nutritious food (200 g of honey is equivalent to 1 kg of milk or 10 eggs 4 oranges or 450 g of meat). For this honey is used as food for weak patients.
- For the preparation of jam, jelly, and syrup, honey is used in lieu of sugar.
- Honey may also be used for the preparation of biscuits, cake, and pudding.
- Honey may be used to prepare toffy, candy, and salad.
- In preparation of drinks conventionally honey is used.
- In the preparation of medicines, honey has been used since the old days. Taking honey by athletes and trekkers is good for health.
- In the morning taking honey with tea is very useful.
- Honey-mixed tea is good for rheumatism.
- In children, honey appears to be useful in malnutrition, anemia, insomnia, cough, and cold.
- In the removal of constipation, honey appears to be useful.
- In Ayurvedic medicines, honey is used as supporting food.
- Honey helps in the healing of wounds. During winter honey is rubbed on the skin to prevent cracking.
- In Western countries, honey is used in the dairy industry, wine industry, and chewing gum preparation, to energize the horse in racing games, and to make a cow more milk productive.
- In various ritual works such as worshipping and shradh, honey is used.
- After hard labour taking of appropriate amount of honey gives much relief.
B. Bee Wax
Bee wax is the secretion from the wax gland at the abdomen of a worker honey bee. It is a yellowish and greyish-brown substance having a specific odor. Wax is insoluble in water but soluble in ether and chloroform. Its melting point is 63-65°c.
It is a wax with a high melting point (about 140°F). It is secreted by the wax glands of worker bees. Bee wax is utilized in the construction of a hive. This wax is used by human beings for several purposes such as manufacturing cosmetics, cold creams, shaving creams, polishes, candles, ointments, lipsticks, lubricants, modeling work, etc. The composition of wax is given in the table:
Constitution of Bee Wax:
|Amount in %
Uses of Bee Wax:
- Wax is used in the preparation of many cosmetic substances namely face cream, lipstick, blusher, lotion, etc.
- Wax is also used in the preparation of shaving cream.
- In the preparation of shoe polish, floor polish, and furniture polish wax is also used.
- It is also used as an insulator in various electrical appliances. Wax is also used as a lubricant in different machines.
- In the preparation of ink and models wax is used as the medium.
- Wax is used in the preparation of candles.
- In boutique designing wax is used.
- To make leather waterproof, wax is applied over it as a smear.
- Preserved fruits or jams in bottles are kept in air-tight condition with the help of wax sealing.
C. Bee Venom
Bee venom is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, cholesterolemia, and eye diseases.
D. Royal Jelly
Royal jelly is used to increase energy, and appetite and induce the endocrine gland function.
It is one type of resin that is used to repair the cracks in the beehive. Propolis has a medicinal value and this may be used as a protective material for the skin from radiation. Propolis and balms are other collections of bees from plants. These substances are used in repairing and fastening combs.
In the treatment of various energy-related treatments, pollens are collected from the beehive.
The worker bees collect nectar from flowers and store the nectar as honey in honey honeycomb of the beehive. The forager after searching out the source of nectar informs the workers in the beehive about the source of nectar i.e., where flowers for nectar are located and in which direction they have to move to get the nectar. The language for this communication is a dance by the foragers. There are two types of bee dance indicating the location and direction of the source and following that the worker bees can move for collecting nectar. One type of dance is called round dance and the other is waggle dance or tail-wagging dance. The round dance is performed in small circles, whereas the waggle dance is performed in the form of the figure with the waggling of the abdomen.
Bee Keeping or Apiculture
The artificial culture of honey bees by scientific method for obtaining honey is called apiculture or beekeeping. The location where beekeeping is performed to a great extent, is known as apiary. In India, keeping is practised in two methods as indigenous method and the scientific method.
The Indigenous method comprises the method of collection of honey from the beehives from surrounding regions. In this system, there is no arrangement for giving protection to the bees and the bees are also not reared. Beehives are prepared by bees in the forests which are isolated, calm, and in quiet environments near domestic houses in rural areas. The beehives are identified and then bees are driven out from the hives by manipulation. Then honey is collected from the beehives with ease. To drive the honey bees, usually fire, water or smoke is used as a repellant for the flies. Sometimes in rural areas for rearing honey bees arrangement is made for an appropriate dwelling place for honey bees. Such dwelling places may be of two types: fixed type and movable type.
A fixed type dwelling place is made either in the wall of the house or prepared in the racks along a wall. The rack usually contains a small hole and its opposite side is covered with a basket or a similar thing. The bees enter through the hole and prepare the beehive in the basket on the opposite side. At proper time honey may be collected by removing the basket. For movable dwelling places usually some box or pitcher may be used. Alternatively, one hole is prepared on the log wood (2mm long) having the dwelling place for honey bees. The honey bees form hives in these devices willingly and at times honey may be collected from their hives.
Both indigenous and exotic varieties of honey bees are used for the commercial production of honey in India.
Indigenous Varieties of Honey Bees
- Apis cerana indica F. (Indian bee)
- Apis dorsata F. (Rock bee)
- Apis florae F. (Little bee).
Exotic Varieties of Honey Bees
- Apis mellifera (European or Italian bee)
- Apis adamsoni (South African bee)
Italian bee (Apis mellifera) is commonly domesticated in India to increase the yield of honey.
Italian bee is preferred because
- It is gentle in nature
- It has a good honey collection capacity
- It has the ability to protect itself from enemies
- It has a prolific queen with less swarming
Difficulties in Indigenous Method:
- The honey bees may not construct a hive in the artificial dwelling place.
- The system cannot control the activities of the honey bees, hence they may leave the nest easily.
- The enemies of honey bees may attack them at ease.
- It is difficult to prevent the theft of honey.
- The honey obtained in this method is hardly pure.
In 1851 Langstroth developed a movable frame hive and with the invention of this device, beekeeping has been scientific. The steps of beekeeping in this method include arrangement of necessary appliances, selection of bee pasture, collection of honey bees efficient for producing honey, rearing of honey bees, and extraction of honey.
1. Arrangement of Necessary Appliances
Different appliances for beekeeping are the movable frame, hive foundation, apparatus for honey extraction, appliances to prevent honey bees from stinging, bee brush, and device for swarm collection.
(a) Movable frame:
It is known as Langstroth’s chamber. This device contains a wooden skeletal structure in which several wooden frames may be inserted or taken out very easily, some of these frames serve as brood chambers. Apiary means setting up a number of bee hives in good and desirable locations in such a systematic way that allows maximum nectar and pollen collection. An apiary should be set in a locality rich in vegetation, especially the flowering plants; rich flora should be available in a 1 to 2 km radius for honey collection. Each hive should face east. It should receive sunlight during the morning and evening and some shade during mid-day. Water should be available nearby and an open space in the front of the hive entrance is also necessary. An ideal Langstroth’s chamber contains the following parts:
- Stand 30 cm high wooden frame with four legs which acts as the stand. One insertable cardboard is attached to this which provides space for the bees to take rest.
- Bottom board: It is a wooden platform that is prepared either with a single plank or two planks combined together. The bottom board is placed on the stand firmly.
- Standard Langstroth frame It is formed of two lateral, one upper and one lower bar. The bar on the upper side has a groove in the middle.
- With the help of this, the comb foundation may be placed. The upper and lower bars remain connected by the lateral bars. For the insertion of these bars, there are two openings.
- Super: It is identical in shape to the brood chamber and placed on the brood chamber.
- Inner Cover: This wooden part is used to cover the brood chamber or super.
- Broad top cover: This is a flat broad wooden board used as a cover. To prevent rainwater it is fitted with metallic sheets from all four sides.
- Stopping top cover: It is the slanting cover at the uppermost part of the apparatus.
- Brood chamber: This is a rectangular wooden box lacking any supporting surface on the above and below. This chamber may be placed on the bottom board.
(b) Comb foundation:
Comb foundation represents one wax-made thick sheet containing many artificially made hexagonal chambers over a frame. Over a sheet of tin hexagonal impressions are developed and over this wax layer is developed to form the comb foundation. This foundation sheet is fixed with the frame by wires.
(c) Honey extraction equipment:
To collect pure honey from the hive this appliance is used. A drum containing a cage made up of a net gives the structure of the extraction apparatus. There is a central bar in the cage and it is inserted through an aperture on the iron plate. The central bar above contains a wheel which is associated with another wheel at its side. This side wheel has a handle with the help of which the central bar with the wire cage can be rotated. The bar is combined with the ball and bearing at the bottom of the drum. The drum measures about 30 cm in diameter and 43 cm in height and it remains fitted with an exit tap at the lower side wall.
(d) Equipment for handling bees:
To prevent stings of honey bees the equipments used are smoker, hive tool, overall, bee-veil etc. At a given location in a season yield of honey is dependent on the duration for which abundant flora is available. The total time during which honey bees collect nectar and pollens is called the honey flow period. Therefore, to obtain large quantities of honey, apiaries should be established, at a location, where there is an abundance of flowers for a longer duration.
(e) Bee brush:
With the help of this brush, the bees are removed from the beehive.
(f) Equipments for catching swarm:
For establishing a new colony of bees, the collection of many bees together is essential. This is known as a swarm collection. One side open box is used to collect the swarm. The bees are driven to enter the box and then it is covered with a mosquito net for its transportation to the apiary. It is a natural phenomenon whereby the mass movement of bees from one place to another takes place. In honey bees, swarming is done in the spring season for the purpose of reproduction. For swarming, a new (young) queen leaves the old hive along with some workers and drones and takes a new shelter. Frequent transfer results in low yield of honey and maintenance cost of hives is also increased.
2. Bee Pasturage
The vegetation or trees that provide nectar to the bees, together constitute the bee pasturage. Bee pasturage is essential to be present near an apiary. The bees depend on the pasturage for food and nectar from which they can prepare honey. Trees like mango, lemon, guava, and blackberry are preferred by the honey bees for nectar, and on the other hand carrot, mustard, coriander, gourd, pumpkin, onion, pea, beet, radish, brinjal, etc. are the preferred vegetable plants for their nectar collection. Besides these, the bees also collect nectar from wild flowering plants and the plants cultivated in horticulture.
3. Collection of Honey Bees
Honey bees are collected from a beehive. The bee collector first covers his body with appropriate garments and a bee veil and then with the help of the equipment for catching of swarm he collects the bees from a hive. One queen and some workers are set free in a bee box. With this more and more honey bees join them to form the colony. They construct the brood chamber in the box and then the queen lays eggs in the hive. Less swarming variety is selected such as Apis mellifera (Italian bee); this bee also has other desirable characteristics (as discussed earlier). A suitable site for an apiary should have good pasturage and have longer honey flow time.
4. Rearing of Honey Bees
Beekeeping needs care of the bees in a colony. Especially during unfavorable conditions when the flowering trees are depleted in the surroundings. The bees face a scarcity of food and then they leave the hive. In such conditions, the bees are to provide food artificially. A condensed solution of sugar at a concentration of 1kg sugar in 8 liters of water is kept in an open container near the bee box. The bees may take the sugar juice as their food. Besides, the honey bees are also given protection from their enemies and diseases.
5. Extraction of Honey
Conventionally honey is extracted from the hive by squeezing after removing the bees from the hive. In this method, the hive is completely disintegrated and the honey collected is also not pure. Collected honey remains mixed with the larval body, wax, debris, etc. However, by the present scientific method, honey is collected by the use of the honey extraction apparatus. In this method, the frames are taken out from the honey chamber and the honey bees are removed from the frame with the help of bee-brush. Then the frames of the j honey chamber (3-4) are kept in the cage of the honey extraction apparatus and the cage is rotated with speed by its handle. The honey comes out from the chambers of the frames and is stored in the bottom of the drum. By opening the tap honey may be collected in a separate container. The extraction process is typically done inside a specialized room, mildly heated for better flow, with all of the necessary tools nearby. The room must be well sealed, as bees will eagerly try to enter and gather the honey.
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by most beekeepers and consumed by people. Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Honey has been used by humans both orally and topically to treat various ailments including gastric disturbances, ulcers, wounds, and burns. However, it is only recently that the mechanisms underlying the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey have come to be understood. Much scientific research has been performed, with emphasis of late on fighting infections in wounds.
The honey bees usually construct the beehive on the branches of the trees or along the ceiling of the house. The worker bees with the help of their secretion from the abdominal wax glands construct the hive. The beehive is composed of many hexagonal chambers and all the chambers are defined for their utility. The chambers at the top of the beehive are used by the bees for storing honey. Immediately below the honey chambers, the cells are used for inhabitation of the brood of workers, below these there are the chambers for the broods of drones and lastly at the lower side of the hive, the chambers are for queen broods. Initially, the chamber remains open at their mouth, but as feeding to the broods is completed and the honey becomes ripe, the mouth of the chambers is closed with lids. In India, generally, three types of artificial bee hives are used in apiaries:
Newton and Jeolikote-type hives are mostly used in plains and Langstroth hive is used in hill region. A bee hive is a box raised over a stand. The box has a wire gauze-covered brood chamber for egg laying and a multi-frame honey chamber for honey collection as a honey reserve. Each bee hive is 46 × 23 cm in size.
How is nectar changed into honey?
Nectar is a sweet viscous secretion secreted by flowers of plants; by attracting insects it helps in pollination. When the bee sucks the nectar from the flowers, it passes this nectar to its honey sac where it gets mixed with some acid secretion. In the honey sac, the sucrose (sugar) of the nectar is converted into dextrose and levulose by the action of an invertase enzyme. After regurgitation, the treated nectar finally changes into honey which is stored in special cells of the hive for future use.
Diseases and Enemies of Honey Bee
Honeybees are commonly infected by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. For example, the bacterium Bacillus apisceptious infects the blood of bees causing septicemia. Brood foul disease is place by Schizomycetes (fungi). Nosema disease and amoeba disease are caused by protozoan pathogens Nosema apis and Vahlkampfia mellifica, respectively.
Common pests/enemies of bees are wasps, wax moths, and mites. Dysentery, paralysis, and acarine diseases are caused by a parasitic mite Acarapis woodi. Various birds such as king crows, blue tits, fly-catchers, chaffinch, green blue eaters, sparrows, etc., use bees as their meal. Wasps are controlled manually (i.e., by destroying the wasp nests from the locality of the apiary). The wax moth is controlled by exposing bees in the bee hive to the sun, by increasing temperature. Bee-eater birds are scared away by some devices.
Diseases of Bee:
|1. Nosema disease
|Nosema apis [protozoa]
|Occur in winter, dysentery, no of bees become less in a colony.
|Spread a fume of glacial acetic acid or fume of 40% formalin in the brood’s box and frame hive to disinfect.
|2. Amoebic disease
|Malpighamoeba mellificae [protozoa]
|Malpighian tubule of bee becomes defective and dysentery.
|Same like Nosema protozoa.
|3. Acarine disease
|This mite enters the trachea and lays an egg, so the trachea is infected and becomes inactive.
|Methyl salicylate wet cotton kept under bee box.
|4. American foulbrood
|By food infection, the larva becomes yellow to brown and then black.
|Sterilization and infected bee colonies are destroyed.
|5. European foulbrood
|The dead larva is twisted and brown in colour.
|The frame should be changed.
|6. Chak brood
|Larva becomes white and hard like chalk and dies ultimately.
|The bee box and frame should be sterilized.
|7. Stone brood
|In larva and pupa yellow granule is noticed.
|The infected bee box must be destroyed.
|Sacbrood Virus (SBV)
|Larva becomes hard like leather and dies.
|The bee box should be changed.
Enemies of Bee:
- Small hive beetle: Aethina tumida
- First Flier Wasp: Vespa tropica, Polistes Heraeus (paper wasp)
- Yellow Banded Wasp: Vespa cincta
- Wax moth: Galleria mellonella, Acherontia styx, Achroia grisella
- Birds: King crow – Dicrurus macrocerus; Green bee eater bird – Merops orientalis, Lanius spp. (Shrikes)