Beekeeping: In Pakistan there are three indigenous species of honey bees and these are Apis dorsata, Apis cerana and Apis florae (wild bees).
Beekeeper association of Pakistan told that there are currently 35000 beekeeping farms. Beekeeping is known as apiculture and it is the art of managing bees colonies for getting required objectives.
Usually the primary objectives are,
- Beekeeping for Pollination.
This is one of the most important work performed by the honeybees. Without honey bees the world would be die as our main food crops rely heavily on honey bees for pollination.
- For getting honey or other substances which include royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis
The royal jelly has many uses among which include in the treatment of asthma, hay fever, liver disease, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, diabetic foot ulcers, sleep troubles, fatigue (tiredness) secondary to cancer, premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Rearing of bees colonies for raising livestock for sale to other beekeepers.
Many people are earning a good source of income from raising livestock of honeybees.
There are three casts of honeybees and the whole colony function as a unit.
There is one queen in a singly hive and the queen is the reproductive individual in the hive. The queen take a flight once in the beginning to mate with the drones and it can stores the sperms for upto 5 years. The queen feeds on royal jelly.
These are also female but are sterile thus they cannot reproduce. Their work is also divided among them on the bases of their age. Their work usually include feeding of young, honey production and storage, wax production, cleaning, and defending the hive against intruders.
They are the male bees in the hive. Their only function is to mate with the queen during the flight and after mating they died. They remain in the hive and feed on honey and pollen. In winter they are removed from the hives to die.
Species of bees
- Rock bee (Apis dorsata): They are good honey gathers with an average yield of 50-80 kg per
- Little bee(Apis florea): They are poor honey yielders and yield about 200-900 g of honey per colony.
- Indian bee(Apis cerana indica): They yield an average honey yield of 6-8 kg per colony per year.
- Italian bee (Apis mellifera): The average production per colony is 25-40 kg.
- Stingless bee(Trigona iridipennis): They have poorly developed stings and are available in Kerala. They are efficient pollinators. They yield 300-400 g of honey per year
Advantages of beekeeping
- Bee keeping does not need much time as in other work. It takes less time and a source of great earning
- The land which did not has high agriculture value or may be of little value can be utilized for the production of honey and beewax.
- The Honey bee does not compete for resources with any other agricultural enterprise.
- The pollination by bees is one of the major benefit. The plants pollinated. By bees mostly have large size of fruits as compared to plants which have low visits of bees.
- Honey has high nutritious value. By the traditional method of honey hunting many wild colonies of bees are destroyed. This can be prevented by raising bees in boxes and producing honey at home.
- Beekeeping can be initiated by individuals or groups.
- The market potential for honey and wax is high.
Establishment of hives
- Selection of site for beekeeping is very important.
- The hives should be located near the agricultural crops so they may visit and bring pollen and nectar easily.
- There must be fresh water available near the location of hives
- The hives should not be located near the roads or noisy place.
- Protection from sunlight is important in order to maintain an optimum temperature in the hive.
- Ant wells are fixed around the hive stand. The colonies must be directed towards east, with slight changes in the directions of the bee box as a protection from rain and sun.
- Keep the colonies away from the reach of cattle, other animal and streetlights.
Establishing a bee colony
- To establish a bee colony, bees can be obtained by transferring a wild nesting colony to a hive or attract a passing swarm of bees to occupy it.
- Either a colony can be purchased or a wild nesting colony can be transferred to a hive. Swarms of bee can also be attracted to start a colony.
- Feed the hived swarm for a few weeks by diluting a half cup of white sugar in half a cup of hot water as this will also help in building the comb along with the bars rapidly.
- Avoid over crowding.
Management of colonies
- Inspect the beehives at least once in a week during the honey-flow seasons preferably during the morning hours.
- Observe the colonies regularly for the presence of healthy queen, brood development, storage of honey and pollen, presence of queen cells, bee strength and growth of drones.
- Look for the infestation by any of the following bee enemies.
- Wax moth (Galleria mellonella): Remove all the larvae and silken webbings from the combs, corners and crevices of bee box.
- Wax beetles (Platybolium sp.): Collect and destroy the adult beetles.
- Mites: Clean the frame and floorboard with cotton swabs moistened with freshly made potassium permanganate solution. Repeat until no mites are seen on the floorboard.
- Management during lean season. Provide division board, if necessary.
- Destroy queen cells and drone cells, if noted. Provide sugar syrup (1:1) @ 200 g sugar per colony per week for Indian bees.
- Feed all the colonies in the apiary at the same time to avoid robbing.
- Management during honey flow season. Keep the colony in sufficient strength before honey-flow season.
- Provide maximum space between the first super and the brood chamber and not above the first super.
- Place queen excluder sheets in between brood and super chamber to confine the queen to brood chamber.
Examine the colony once in a week and frames full of honey should be removed to the sides of the super. The frames, which are three-fourth filled with honey or pollen and one-fourth with sealed brood should be taken out of brood chamber and in its place empty combs or frames with foundation is added.
The combs, which are completely sealed, or two-third capped may be taken out for extraction of honey and returned to supers after honey extraction.
Major limitation in the beekeeping in Pakistan
This season was not good for the production of honey. There were mainly two reason for this cause,
- Cutting down of berry trees
How to become a good beekeeper.
As the behavior of the bees remains the constant so there are lots of books available for the beekeeping. For excellent beekeeper one must know the importance of number of variables including weather conditions, Disease profile, local crops and climate.
Authors: Muhammad Zaryab Khalid1 and Niaz Ahmed1
1Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad