Bee is the only insect in the entire world that can produce something that is beneficial to all of us. We obtain honey from these bees and as we all knew, honey is an important sweet diet for human beings. Since ancient times, honey is used for treating several diseases, and it is an antioxidant, therefore beekeeping, another term for apiculture is a very important activity.
Apiculture and Apiary
The word ‘apiculture’ comes from the Latin word ‘apis’ meaning bee. So, apiculture or beekeeping is the care and management of honey bees for the production of honey and the wax. In this method of apiculture, bees are bred commercially in apiaries, an area where a lot of beehives can be placed. Apiaries can be set up in areas where there are sufficient bee pastures which are flora consisting of some wild shrubs, fruit orchards, cultivated crops etc.
Bees are mainly reared for an edible product i.e. honey. Besides that, we also obtain beeswax through beekeeping. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants. Although honey is an important ingredient in many food dishes, beeswax holds a lot of commercial significance too. It is used in the cosmetic and medical industry, as well as a coating for cheese and as a food additive. It is also used as a main component for making candles, preparing polishes for the shoe, furniture, etc.
Importance of Beekeeping
The main advantages of beekeeping are:
- Provides honey which is the most valuable nutritional food.
- Provides bee wax which is used in many industries, including cosmetics industries, Polishing industries, Pharmaceutical industries, etc.
- Plays an excellent role in pollination. Honey bees are best pollinating agents which help in increasing the yield of several crops.
- According to the recent studies, the honey bee’s venom, a colorless liquid containing a mixture of proteins which can be used for destroying the HIV virus that causes AIDS leaving surrounding cells intact in the human body.
Working at the Beehive
In a colony, there are 10000 to 60000 bees! But all of them do not collect nectar- there is a strict division of labor. The adult, mated female bee lays thousands of eggs that hatch and new bees are produced in the hive and are fertilized by the drones. The drone bees are male and their job is only to help in fertilizing the eggs laid by the queen, and the worker bees do the actual work of collecting nectar.
Common varieties of bees
The beekeepers mostly take care of only those bee species whose names start with “Apis”- as they are the only species which produce honey. Common species of honey bees that are reared are as follows:
- Apis dorsata: It is also referred to as the rock bee. It is a giant bee and produces about 38 to 40 kg of honey per colony.
- Apis indica: It is also referred to as the Indian bee. It can be easily domesticated and is most commonly used for honey production. The annual yield of honey is 2 to 5 kg per colony.
- Apis florea: It is also referred to as the little bee. It rarely stings and thus honey extraction from its hive is easy. It produces about 1 kg of honey per colony per year.
- Apis mellifera: It is also referred to as the Italian bee. This species has a very typical dance routine to indicate food availability, and like the little bee, stings less. As the common name suggests, this species is not local. However, because of the high amount of honey produced, it is often reared by beekeepers.
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