Bees are insects which are useful to human beings. The honey obtained from bees serves as an important food for people, it helps in treating several diseases as well. Honey is an antioxidant. Hence, beekeeping is a crucial activity.
The scientific method of rearing honey bees is known as ‘Apiculture’. The word ‘apiculture’ is derived from the Latin word ‘apis’ meaning bee. Apiculture/Beekeeping is basically all about caring and managing honey bees for the production of honey and wax. An area where a lot of beehives are placed, where bees are bred commercially is known as an apiary.
Apiaries are mostly set up in areas where there are sufficient bee pastures. For example, in areas having flowering plants.
Bees are basically reared for their honey. ‘Beeswax’ is also obtained through beekeeping. Honey is produced by the bees through the sugary secretions of plants. While honey is a major ingredient in many food items, beeswax holds a lot of commercial significance as well.
Beeswax is widely used in the cosmetic and medical industry, It is used as a coating for cheese, and as a food additive as well. Beeswax is also an important component in making candles, preparing polishes etc.
Significance of Beekeeping
The major advantages of beekeeping are:
- It gives honey, which is a valuable and nutritional food.
- Bee wax is used by cosmetic industries, polishing industries, and pharmaceutical industries.
- Plays a crucial role in pollination. Honey bees serve as the best pollinating agents. They help increase the yield of several crops.
- As per recent studies, honey bee’s venom has a mixture of proteins that can possibly be used as a prophylactic for destroying HIV which causes AIDS in humans.
There will be around 10,000 to 60,000 bees in a colony. All of them will not collect nectar. There is a strict division of labor in place. Thousands of eggs are laid by the queen bee and the female bees. Larvae which hatch are fed royal jelly. Their role as a worker or queen will be decided on the basis of the duration they are fed. The drone bees are male, they help in fertilizing the eggs laid by the queen. The worker bees collect nectar.
Different Varieties of Bees
‘Apis’ are the only species that produce honey, beekeepers usually take care of only such bee species.
The following are the common species of honey bees which are reared:
Apis Dorsata: It is also known as the rock bee. Being a giant bee, it produces around 38 to 40 kg of honey per colony.
Apis indica: It is also known as the Indian bee. They are commonly used for honey production. The Indian bees can be easily domesticated. The annual yield of honey will be 2 to 5 kg per colony.
Apis florea: Popularly known as the little bee, it rarely stings, making honey extraction easier. The bees produce 1 kg of honey per colony per year.
Apis mellifera: Apis mellifera is also called the Italian bee. They have a typical dance routine to indicate food availability. Like the little bees, they sting less. As their name suggests, they are not local species.
World’s Largest Bee
The world’s largest living species of bee is called the Megachile pluto or Wallace’s Giant Bee. Females have a total body length of 1.5 inches, with their wingspan measuring 2.5 inches. They will sting if provoked.
In this blog, we have discussed about apiculture.