Thursday, December 4, 2014

For beekeeping education

University of Pune
Two Year M.Sc. Degree Course in
M.Sc. Zoology
(Credit and Semester based Syllabus to be implemented from Academic Year 2013-14)

ZY- 406 (T) Apiculture, 2 Credits/30 L
1.  Introduction  to  Apiculture: History  of  Bees  and  Beekeeping,  Systematics,  Bee
species,  Bee  morphology,  Colony  organization,  Polymorphism,  Caste  system,
Division  of  labour,  Bee  flora,  Foraging  and  Honey  flow  periods.
( 7 L)
2.  Bee  keeping  as  an  occupation: Extent  of  Beekeeping  in  Maharashtra  and  India,
Limitations  on  the  development  of  beekeeping,  Advantages  of  extensive
beekeeping, Beekeeping equipments and initiation into keeping a colony, the future
of beekeeping.    (7 L)
3.  The first step in beekeeping:Purchase of a colony, the Apiary site, how to manage
a  colony,  the  manipulation  of  a  colony,  taking  care of  bee  diseases  and  enemies.
(7 L)
4.  Beekeeping  techniques  and  Apiary  management: Establishment  of  a  colony,,
Routine management, Seasonal management, Migratory beekeeping, Harvesting and
marketing  of  bee  products,  Bee  flora  and  planned  pollination  services.
(7 L)
5.  Important  Institutions  pertinent  to  Apiculture: National  Bee  Board,  Bee
Research and Training Institute, Apiaries. Economics and extension of Bee keeping.
(2 L)

Reference Books
1.  Bees and Beekeeping D. P. Abrol , Kalyani Publisher, New Delhi 51
2.  A Comprehensive guide to Bees and Beekeeping. D. P. Abrol. Scientific Publisher, New Delhi.
3.  Honey bees and their management S. B. Withhead. Axis books Publisher, Jodhpur.
4.  Honey  bees:  Diseases,  Parasites,  Pests,  Predator  and  their  management.  N.
Nagaraja and D. Rajagopal , M.J.P Publisher, Chennai.
5.  A  Handbook  of  Beekeeping  Dharamsing  and  D.  P.  Singh (,  Agrobios  India
(Publisher), Jodhpur.

ZY- 406(P) Apiculture, 2 Credits/10 Practical.
1.  Study of Honey bee species, Castes and Bee morphology.  (3P)
2.  Study of Beekeeping equipments: Bee box and tools.  (2P)
3.  Study of Bee products: Honey, Bees wax, Pollens,Royal Jelly, Propolis and Bee venom. (2P)
4.  A  compulsory  visit  to  an  Apiary  or  Central  Bee  Research  &  Training
Institute or a Beekeeper to gain a first hand experience in handling bees. (2P)
5.  Study  of  bee  flora  in  the  locality  and  observations  on  bee  foraging Behaviour.

The history of the bee

The honeybee is a highly sophisticated insect that has evolved over millions of years. The earliest recorded Bee was found in Myanmar. It was found encased in amber and has been dated as 100 million years old. It's likely that the bee originated in the Far East. In those early days, the bees were more like wasps, eating other insects rather than nectar and pollen. It's unclear exactly when bees decided to become vegetarian but considering the choice between eating a fly and some delicious, sweet tasting nectar from a cherry tree in full bloom, it seems like a good decision.
Today bees live all over the world and there are approximately 20,000 species. These range from the giant leaf eating bee, which is over 3cm long to the tiny dwarf bee which is just 2mm long. The honeybee is just one of these species. Most other bees do not live in colonies preferring a more solitary existence. Bumblebees for example live in burrows in the ground.
As well as crop pollination scientists believe that bees are responsible for the rich flower diversity we enjoy today. Most flowering plants cannot self-pollinate and pollination that relies on the wind to carry their seed is not very efficient, so flowers evolved with bright colours and markings to attract bees and to ensure that they were rewarded for the pollination service provided them with a nutritious nectar too. The bees drink the nectar and transport it in a special stomach back to the hive to share with the Queen, of course, and also to feed the hive bees and the larvae which will become the new bees.
For early man, discovering honey was as life changing as the discovery of fire. For the early hunter gatherers who hadn't yet developed the beesuit and veil, collecting honey was as painful as picking up a burning stick. However, the bravery was worth it because it seems humankind had, in preparation, already developed a sweet tooth.
Honey was the most important sweetener for food and alcoholic drinks in ancient times. So important were these activities that parents named their children after the bees. Both Deborah and Melissa mean "bee", in Hebrew and Greek respectively. It has been sought as an antiseptic and sweetener for at least 100,000 years. In Ancient Egypt and the Middle East, it was used to embalm the dead.
In fact it wasn't until Egyptian times that peoples started to keep bees at home. The Egyptian hive design was a simple upturned straw basket called a skep. These are still used today although mainly for temporarily housing a colony of bees that has recently swarmed.
Early beehives, such as the skep, were not designed for long term use. The honey couldn't be extracted without destroying the hive and therefore the colony. The system only worked if the colony produced enough bees to create a swarm, which would be caught and go on to provide the honey in the following year. Otherwise, each year a new swarm of bees had to be caught. There was a desperate need for a way of keeping the same colony of bees year after year so that more honey could be produced and the apiary expanded.
A breakthrough discovery in beekeeping was made by a man called Lorenzo Langstroth. He discovered that bees would keep a 'bee sized' pathway clear within a hive if it was between 6 and 8mm wide. He named the discovery 'spazio di ape' (or 'bee space' in English). This discovery was important because it led to the development of hives with moveable frames of comb. This allowed the beekeeper to remove comb and honey without destroying the hive. It also enabled the beekeeper to start manipulating the colony; helping it develop and grow. This discovery is often sited as the start of modern beekeeping.

History of Beekeeping,  
Primitive beekeeping was a crude art. Hives consisted of pottery, baskets and holes in rocky cliffs. Beekeepers knew very little about the bees and many times bees were killed after the season was over to harvest the honey. Early man did however understand the importance of honey as a food source. It was recognized that milk and honey were essential for baby formulas even in Biblical days.
There is much historical data that indicates that beekeeping is an ancient art. Below is a list of some important dates in recorded history of beekeeping. For more information on the history of beekeeping, check out the book "The Hive and the Honey Bee" from Dadant Publishing.
  • The oldest record is approximately 15000 BC.
  • 3000 BC we have written records on migratory beekeeping up and down the Nile river in  ancient Egypt.
  • Exodus 3:8 indicates that Cannan as the land of milk and honey.
  •  Around 900 BC King Solomon speaks of honey and honeycomb in many passages. Proverbs 24:13 "My son eat thou honey, because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to thy taste".
  • 384 BC, Aristotle the greek teacher, did much research on beekeeping. His writing indicates foulbrood, enemies of bees, and apparently the first to notice that honeybees don't visit flowers of different kinds on one flight, but remain constant to one species.
  • 70-19 BC Virgil Roman a poet and beekeeper, recommended clipping the wings of queen bees and speaks of shad and wind protecting.
  •   800-900 AD Bees were probably brought to America by the Irish and Norwegians.
  •   1500-1850 Many discoveries about bees and beekeeping but unsuccessful in producing movable frames. Bees were not native to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.
  •   West coast bees were not introduced untill 1850's when they landed in California and by wagon to Oregon.
  •   1851 bees had colonized all over the world. Lorenzo Langstroth (The father of modern beekeeping) developed the moveable frame. Lorenzo was from the US and his work spread from here to England, Europe and finally world wide. His creation of the Langstroth hive is still the standard to this day.
Additional reading: An introduction to understanding honeybees, their origins, evolution and diversity

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees)
Family Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
Subfamily Apinae (Honey, Bumble, Long-horned, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe Apini (Honey Bees)
Genus Apis
Species mellifera (Western Honey Bee)

Geographic Range

Apis mellifera is native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa. Human introduction of Apis mellifera to other continents started in the 17th century, and now they are found all around the world, including east Asia, Australia and North and South America. (Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998; Winston, et al., 1981)
Geographic Range: Apis mellifera is native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa. Human introduction of Apis mellifera to other continents started in the 17th century, and now they are found all around the world, including east Asia, Australia and North and South America. (Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998; Winston, et al., 1981)

Bee species:
Five important species of honey bees are as follows.
  1. The rock bee, Apis dorsata (Apidae).
  2. The Indian hive bee, Apis cerana indica (Apidae).
  3. The little bee, Apis florea (Apidae).
  4. The European or Italian bee, Apis mellifera (Apidae).
  5. Dammer bee or stingless bee, Melipona irridipennis (Meliporidae).
The important features of these species are given below.
Rock bee (Apis dorsata)
They are giant bees found all over India in sub-mountainous regions up to an altitude of 2700 m. They construct single comb in open about 6 feet long and 3 feet deep .They shift the place of the colony often. Rock bees are ferocious and difficult to rear. They produce about 36 Kg honey per comb per year. These bees are the largest among the bees described.

Rock bee and its hives
Little bee (Apis florea)
They build single vertical combs. They also construct comb in open of the size of palm in branches of bushes, hedges, buildings, caves, empty cases etc (Fig. 2). They produce about half a kilo of honey per year per hive. They are not rearable as they frequently change their place. The size of the bees is smallest among four Apis species described and smaller than Indian bee. They distribute only in plains and not in hills above 450 MSL.
Little bee and its hives
Indian hive bee / Asian bee (Apis cerana indica)
They are the domesticated species, which construct multiple parallel combs with an average honey yield of 6-8 kg per colony per year. These bees are larger than Apis florae but smaller than Apis mellifera. They are more prone to swarming and absconding. They are native of India/Asia.
Indian bee and its hive
European bee / Italian bee (Apis mellifera)
They are also similar in habits to Indian bees, which build parallel combs. They are bigger than all other honeybees except Apis dorsata. The average production per colony is 25-40 kg. They have been imported from European countries (Italy). They are less prone to swarming and absconding.
European bee
Dammer Bee
Besides true honey bees, two species of stingless or dammer bees, viz. Melipona and Trigona occur in our country in abundance. These bees are much smaller than the true honey bees and build irregular combs of wax and resinous substances in crevices and hollow tree trunks. The stingless bees have the importance in the pollination of various food crops. They bite their enemies or intruders. It can be domesticated. But the honey yield per hive per year is only 100 gms.
Dammer bee hives
Morphology of Honey bee:

Table of morphological characteristics (Mellifera races)
General Appearance
large, broad, short limbs
medium size, slim, long limbs
medium size, slim, long limbs

Worker body colour


black @ high altitude

1,2 or 3-yellow
Scutellum may be yellow
maybe one leather coloured ring

none or small (2nd tergite)

may have small spots

Drone body colour

Rings or Spots

yellow rings
small spots

Worker Cellsize (mm)


4.7 - 4.9 (Crane)
4.86 (Crane)
5.0 (Crane)
Cubital Index (worker) ave

Cubital Index (worker) min
2.0 [2.2]

Cubital Index (worker) max
2.7 [2.8]

Cubital Index (drone) ave

Cubital Index (drone) min

Cubital Index (drone) max

Fore wing Length ave (mm)
Spread is 8 mm to 9.7 mm over all mellifera races
Fore wing Length min (mm)

Fore wing Length max (mm)

Discoidal Shift, worker

Discoidal Shift, drone

5th Tergite Overhairs (mm)
{0.25-0.4 (0.3 ave)}

Tomentum Width (4th tergite)
narrow, less than 1/2 of tergite
broad, more than 1/2 of tergite
broad, much hair
Very broad, much hair

Worker hair colour
few dark hairs
[lead grey]

Drone hair colour
grey or grey/brown

dark grey [black]

very long

Tongue, ave (mm)

Tongue, min (mm)

Tongue, max (mm)

Table of morphological characteristics (Other Species)
General Appearance
very small
very large but slender
Worker body colour
dark grey to reddish yellow

1 & 2 red, tergites 3, 4, 5 & 6 have white tomenta
reddish brown
Worker Cellsize (mm)


Drone body colour

Cubital Index (worker)ave
Cubital Index (worker)min

Cubital Index (worker)max

Cubital Index (drone)ave

Cubital Index (drone)min

Cubital Index (drone)max

Fore wing Length min (mm)
6.0 [6.3]
Fore wing Length max (mm)
6.9 [7.0]
Tongue, ave (mm)
Tongue, min (mm)

Tongue, max (mm)

Colony organization of honey bee

The queen
The drone
The worker
The tropical honeybee, Apis mellifera adansonii (scute-lata), lives a unique, sophisticated social life similar to that of its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere. There are two sexes, the female and the male, but the former is subdivided into two castes. In the average colony, there are -
a) one fertile queen, whose main activity is egg- laying,
b) from 20 000 to 80 000 sterile female worker bees, which do almost everything that needs to be done in the colony, and
c) from 300 to 800 fertile males, generally called drones.
In addition, there are about 5 000 eggs and 25-30 000 immature bees in various stages of their development, called the brood. Of these, some 10 000, newly hatched, are the larvae, which have to be fed by the workers, while the remainder, after the larval stage, are pupae, sealed into their cells by the workers to mature. They are called the sealed brood.
The honeybee nest
The nest of a bee colony consists of a number of vertical combs which hang parallel to each other at a distance of about 10 mm. The combs, about 25 mm wide, are composed of hexagonal cells. There are two types of comb cells: the smaller, called worker cells, and the larger, called drone cells. In the worker cells in the lower part of the comb, the bees rear worker brood; in the upper part of the comb, they store pollen and honey. In the drone cells, the bees rear drones. Occasionally they build a third type of cell, the queen cells, in which queens are reared.
Development of the honeybee
The bees develop from fertilized or unfertilized eggs laid by the queen at the bottom of the cells. Fertilized eggs are laid into worker cells and queen cells, and the unfertilized into drone cells. The egg develops in three days. After that time, the female queen and worker larvae hatch from fertilized eggs, and male larvae hatch from unfertilized eggs.
All the larvae are fed during their first three days of life with "bee milk", or "royal jelly", produced by the nurse bees, which are young worker bees not yet ready to leave the hive. After that time, worker and drone larvae are fed on a mixed food composed of honey and pollen, while larvae destined to develop into queens are fed on royal jelly during their whole larval life of five days. Thus, queens can be reared from any worker larvae younger than three days.
When a queen disappears accidentally from a colony, the workers reconstruct a few worker cells, containing larvae younger than three days, into queen cells and continue to feed the larvae with royal Jelly. Queen larvae are sealed in their cells by the workers five days after being hatched, worker larvae after six days and drone larvae after seven days.
In the sealed cells, metamorphosis of the larvae creates the pupae. The adult queen emerges from the cell 16 days after deposition of an egg, the worker bee after 21 days and the drone after 24 days.

The queen
There is always one queen in a hive. She is half again as large as a worker and longer than a drone. Her wings are much shorter than her body and cannot cover the whole of her abdomen. Her long, tapering abdomen makes her resemble a wasp. She has sparkling gold hairs on her shiny body. The queen has a sting but, unlike the aggressive workers, does not use it to fight hive intruders. Her sting is only used to fight rival queens. She does not go out to collect pollen, nectar, water or propolis, and therefore she has no collecting apparatus like pollen baskets, long proboscis for drawing nectar or wax glands to secrete wax to build comb cells. As a queen, she usually does not feed herself.
Immediately after she emerges, the queen tours the hive to see if there is any rival queen hiding somewhere. If she finds one, the two queens will fight until one is killed.
If the colony is not preparing to swarm, then the newly emerged queen seeks out potential queens hiding in comb cells. The queen pipes to make a special noise and the hidden capped queen responds. Immediately, the emerged queen locates the cell, tears it to pieces and kills the unemerged queen. Sometimes the workers watching as spectators will help the queen to evacuate the contents of every queen cell.
Five days after the queen emerges from her cell, she starts to fly out of the hive, making an orientation flight of about five minutes. Next she makes mating flights which last about 30 minutes. She flies to an area 6-10 m above the ground where drones have congregated. In other places, she is not attractive to the drones. During a successful mating flight, she is mated by about eight drones. If the flight is not successful, she makes another the next day. During the mating flight, the drone's semen is injected into her oviducts. Prom there, the spermatozoa enter into a special reservoir called the spermatheca. A well-inseminated queen carries about 5000000 spermatozoa stored in her spermatheca.
Sometimes nuptial flights can be delayed as the result of a long rainy season or pronounced bad weather. When a young queen bee has been unable to mate for about a month, she will start to lay unfertilized eggs in worker cells. From these eggs, only drones will develop. In this case, the colony will perish within a few weeks unless the beekeeper observes what is happening and reacts immediately by giving the colony a new queen (requeening) or by inserting a new brood comb with very young larvae and eggs, from which the colony will develop a new queen, after having killed the old unfertilized one.
Three days after her last mating flight, the queen starts to lay her eggs, which are produced in her ovaries. A good queen lays 1 500-2 000 eggs per day. She lives three to five years, but after two years she lays fewer eggs. When her spermatozoa become exhausted, the she also lays unfertilized eggs in worker cells, where drones now develop. Such a queen in called a dronelayer.
Each queen produces a queen substance, called a pheromone, by which many activities of a colony are controlled. In the absence of a queen or a pheromone, the workers transform some worker cells containing young larvae into queen cells and start to rear new queens.
When there are no larvae younger than three days in the colony, the bees have no way of rearing new queens. In this case, ovaries of some workers develop, and they start to lay eggs. However, as worker bees cannot be inseminated, they lay only unfertilized eggs. Such workers are called laying workers.

The drone
The drone is popularly known for exhibiting a high degree of laziness. His presence in the hive seems to be of little importance to the beekeeper. He is stout and larger than the worker. He has no suitable proboscis for gathering nectar and has no sting to defend himself or the colony. Like the queen, he possesses no baskets for collecting pollen grains and no glands to secrete wax for comb construction. He does no work in the hive but is fed, eating large quantities of food, and moves about in sunshine and on warm days making loud, frightening noises everywhere he goes. This is why he is considered useless, but he has a very important function to play, which only a few of his kind ever fulfil. This function is to inseminate the queen, and for this he is well prepared.
The compound eyes of the drone are twice as large as those of the queens and workers, and both eyes meet at the top of his head, which is not true of workers and queens. This enables him to see the queen during the mating flight. The drones also have the largest wings, which help them to reach the queen during the flight.
The spermatozoa are produced in the drone's testes during the pupal stage. After the drone emerges from the comb cell, the spermatozoa pass into seminal vesicles, where they remain until mating. During mating, they pass into the copulatory apparatus.
The colony begins to rear drones in late spring and early summer. They reach sexual maturity nine days after emerging, and fly out of the hive (mostly between 1 and 3 p.m.) searching for the queens over a distance of 8 km or more. Hating occurs in the open air, in the drones' congregation areas. During mating, the drone everts his copulatory apparatus, injecting the semen into the queen's oviducts and leaving part of the apparatus in the tip of the queen's abdomen. That part, visible in the queen returning from the mating flight, is called the mating sign. The drone dies during mating.
Toward the end of the nectar flow, when fresh nectar becomes scarce, the workers prevent the drones from feeding. At first they push the drones from the brood combs to the side combs and eventually drag them half-starved from the hive.
In unfavourable periods, drones are tolerated only in queenless colonies or those containing unmated queens. Thus the presence of drones in a colony during such periods shows that something is wrong with the queen and that action by the beekeeper is needed.

The worker
Workers are the smallest and most numerous of the bees, constituting over 98% of the colony's population. One colony, as has been seen, may have as many as 80 000 workers, but 50 000 is a more common maximum.
Although they never mate, the workers possess organs necessary for carrying out the many duties essential to the wellbeing of the colony. They have a longer tongue than the queen and drones, and thus are well fitted for sucking nectar from flowers. They have large honey stomachs to carry the nectar from the field to the hive; they have pollen baskets on their third pair of legs to transport the pollen to the hive. Glands in their head produce royal jelly as food for the larvae and glands in their thorax secrete enzymes necessary for ripening honey. Four sets of wax glands, situated inside the last four ventral segments of the abdomen, produce wax for comb construction. A well-developed sting permits them to defend the colony very efficiently.
The kind of work performed by the worker depends largely upon her age. The first three weeks of her adult life, during which she is referred to as a house bee, are devoted to activities within the hive, while the remainder are devoted to field work, so that she is called a field bee.
Duties of the house bee
The duties of a house bee are -
a) cleaning the hive and the comb
b) feeding the brood
c) caring for the queen
d) making orientation flights
e) comb building
f) ventilating the hive
g) packing pollen, water, nectar or honey into the combs
h) executions
i) guard duty
The first activity of the worker bee on reaching maturity is to clean herself. She removes all unnecessary particles, grooms herself immediately and then crawls out of her cell. She takes in food and then starts cleaning the brood cells, employing both tongue and mandibles. The comb cells are cleaned to receive eggs laid by the queen who, before laying, examines the comb cell to satisfy herself that it has been properly cleaned. If she finds a cell that is not properly cleaned, she quickly rejects it. Other duties which may occasionally be necessary include removing dead intruders or dead bees from the hive, and removing debris and other objectionable material. Anything that is too large to carry is often dragged along and pushed outside, while dead snakes, wax moths or other carcasses too heavy to transport are encased with propolis brought in by field bees.
Feeding the brood
After three to five days, the worker bee starts to feed the brood. At this stage she is called a nurse bee. At first she feeds larvae more than three days old with a mixture of honey or nectar, pollen, small quantities of bee milk and some water. After a few days, she starts to feed the younger larvae (1-3 days old) exclusively on bee milk, which she produces in brood-food glands, also called milk glands or hypopharyngeal glands, located in her head.
Caring for the queen
The next work undertaken by the young worker is to provide for the needs of the queen bee. Whenever the queen needs food, she calls for it by stretching out her proboscis towards the mandible or mouth of the nearest worker. The workers are always anxious to satisfy her needs and make a circle or semi-circle around her. The queen contacts the nearest worker, and if she does not get as much as she needs, she approaches the next. This continues until all her demands are met. It is also the duty of the nurse bees to bathe her with their tongues and mandibles and to carry away her faeces.
Orientation flight
The orientation flight is not so much a house duty as an exercise for the young worker. She must learn how to fly, and she must know the vicinity, especially the location of the hive. She therefore first makes some short flights in front of the hive and in the immediate vicinity to acquaint herself with the environment, so that when in the near future she goes out to forage, she will be able to find her way back home.
Comb building
Comb building provides the needed "rooms" in the hive, in the form of hexagonal cells, for two main purposes: storing food and rearing brood. Beeswax, the material for the construction of comb, is secreted by the worker's wax glands, which are best developed and productive when she is 12-18 days old. The wax, which emerges from the glands as a liquid, hardens quickly and appears in the form of oval flakes similar to small fish scales, protruding from between the last four overlapping abdominal segments on the under-side of the worker's body. As we have already seen, the bee must consume large amounts of food (honey and nectar) to produce these wax flakes.
Bees engaged in building combs usually hang themselves in festoons at or near the site of the building operation. There they hang quietly while their digestive organs transform the contents of their honey sacs into energy and beeswax. The wax is removed with the spines of the hind legs and is then manipulated with the mandibles to build the comb cells. Capping of comb cells is also the duty of comb builders.
Ventilating the hive
Temperature control is one of the important duties of the house bee. When the temperature is low, bees cluster to generate heat for themselves, but when it is high, some of them have to fan their wings to circulate air throughout the hive. The right temperature required is between 33° and 36°C, while the brood chamber requires a constant heat of 35°. Honey has to be cured in order to ripen, and this also requires the help of circulating air. According to Crane, 12 fanning bees positioned across a hive entrance 25 cm wide can produce an air flow amounting to 50-60 litres per minute. This fanning can go on day and night during the honey-flow season. The phenomenon is always at its peak in October in the high savannah and forest zones of Vest Africa.
Honey conversion and packing
It takes several bees to produce honey. No single honeybee completes the whole process. The forager brings a load of nectar to the hive and transfers it to a house bee, who proceeds to the empty or uncrowded part of the hive, where she rests and exposes the nectar to the air being fanned by the fanning bees. The air circulation helps reduce the moisture content of the nectar and thus aids sugar concentration. The house bee may load the nectar into the upper section of an empty cell or add it to the honey or nectar of a cell incompletely filled. The speed with which she manipulates the nectar depends on the intensity of the nectar flow. If nectar is abundant, the house bee may deposit her load quickly into a comb cell for later processing.
The time required for the nectar to mature into honey depends for the most part on its original moisture content. For example, if the sugar content is high, as in the nectar of Combretum paniculatum, which is usually over 65%, ripening takes about two hours. On the other hand, if palm wine (which bees enjoy very much) is sent into the hive, more time will be required, since its sugar content is as low as 4.5%. Matured honey usually has over 80% sugar concentration. Ripening time is also determined by the quantity of the nectar: combs completely filled with nectar, even if strongly ventilated, may take as much as 36 days to mature.
Packing water, pollen and propolis
Other essential commodities which are brought in by the foragers and need the attention of the house bee are water, pollen and propolis. Water is required for cooling the hive, especially during the harmattan season, when the atmosphere is very dry and temperatures are too warm for the bees' comfort. Water is mixed with honey and pollen and then fed to the older larvae, between 3-6 days old. Pollen is also packed to about three-quarters full in comb cells in the brood chamber, sometimes side by side with brood cells. Cells are never completely packed with pollen.
Propolis is a resinous material collected from trees. It is difficult to unload, because it is gummy in consistency, and the house bees have to help the foragers to unload. The carrier holds firmly onto the walls of the hive, and the house bee removes the sticky gum from the hairy corbicula or pollen basket. Sometimes it takes more than three days to off-load a forager. The propolis is either stored or used immediately for the purpose required: to block holes and cracks in the hive, to repair combs, to strengthen the thin edges of the comb, or to make the entrance of the hive watertight or easier to defend. As already mentioned, propolis is also used to cover objectionable material in the hive and to embalm dead intruders such as wax moths, snakes, etc., too large to be removed.
It is interesting to note that house bees are always eager to help unload the field bee that brings in material which the hive requires immediately. For example, when the weather is too warm and water is required to cool the hive, they will pay no attention to foragers bringing in nectar or propolis, who will have to wait until the heat situation is brought under control before they are offloaded.
Executions are a means of protecting the colony from hunger, disease and any catastrophic event. They may be performed to eliminate strange bees, to kill or drive away old and sick bees, to discourage other hive predators from entering the hive, to remove sick or unwanted unemerged brood, to eliminate useless drones, and to kill unwanted or strange queens.
Guard duty
Guard duty is the final activity of the house bee before she leaves the hive. By this time she has reached peak strength, is very energetic, and is best fit to defend the entrance of the hive, which is also the point of entry of the colony's enemies.
The guard bee has the duty of inspecting all incoming foragers by smelling their odour. When satisfied, the guard allows the incoming bee to enter unmolested with her load. In most ·cases, foragers with loads to discharge are not intercepted unless the hive is greatly disturbed. After staying at the entrance for a while, the guard may fly out on patrol for some time before returning to the entrance. The guard bee is also responsible for watching any crack through which a robber bee or any other intruder might enter the hive. In an alerted hive, guard bees stand on four legs, their forelegs lifted and they antennae held straight, searching here and there. Any intruder, robber or other enemy first receives a frightening audible warning, followed by a sting; if he persists, the application of the alarm pheromone on the spot where the bee stings quickly summons more defenders. The scent helps other attackers to find the target and follow without delay.
It has been observed that during the brood-rearing season, more guards are stationed at the hive entrance than during the peak of the honey flow.
The field bees
Activities involving flight may start from the third day after emergence from the brood cell, but the young worker begins her actual foraging activity later. Between the 18th and the 21st day, her hypopharyngeal and wax glands have become too weak to function, so that she cannot produce royal jelly to feed the queen and the young larvae, nor wax to build comb cells. But by this time she is in perfect condition to fly and knows the geography of the locality. She therefore starts field work, fetching nectar, pollen, propolis or water, but always concentrating her activity on the immediate needs of the colony.
Observations conducted in several places in Ghana showed that foragers begin to be active as early as 5:15 a.m. and that by 6:30 p.m. almost all have returned to the hive. In the latter part of July, August and September, most foragers brought pollen. By 5:20 a.m. the first consignment of pollen had arrived. More heavy loads of pollen continued to come, and traffic at the entrance was heavy until 7:30 a.m. This phenomenon was repeated between 10:00 and 11:30 a.m., when the sunshine was intense.
Nectar gathering
Nectar, the sweet liquid secreted by plant nectaries, is collected by foragers, taken to the hive and turned over to the house bees for processing. The forager then returns to the flowers and collects more. The number of trips she makes in a day cannot be assessed precisely. It may vary from time to time for a number of reasons: the availability and accessibility of the nectar source, the quantity of nectar present, and the nectar requirement of the colony for the day.
Sight and smell enable the bee to locate sources. She lands on the part of the plant that will support her and dips her stretched proboscis into the corolla of the flower. If there is nectar, she sucks it into her honey stomach. If there is none, she wastes no time before moving to the next flower. Some flowers have more nectar than others. Sometimes the bee can load enough by visiting one, two or three, but in plants with tiny flowers she can only get a full load by visiting hundreds. A fully loaded bee can carry 85% of her own weight.
The time taken to complete a trip varies, but can reach 2 hours. In the savannah, foragers visit certain plants at specific times of the day. The dawadawa plant (Parkia clappertoniana), for example, produces large quantities of nectar and sweet Juice which flows on parts of the stem and branches, but the dry harmattan drains the moisture in the liquid, and the juice becomes so sticky that the bee cannot load it easily. Probably for this reason, bees visit the plant as early as 5:15 a.m. and as late as 6:15 p.m. On each occasion, only one trip is made. By 6:30 p.m., no bees can be found on the tree.
Water collection
Bees consider water-carrying as one of their most important duties. They execute it regardless of what may be involved. If they need Water for the hive, they will resort to drastic methods to acquire it. In water-scarce areas, desperate bees sometimes attack farmers for their sweat, and clothes cannot be washed outdoors in the daytime for fear of molestation by desperate bees searching for water. Thirsty bees visit kitchens, bathrooms, toilets and all obscure humid places. They will land on any moist area, dip their proboscis and suck in water. Loading of water takes only a few seconds. The bee carries it to the hive and returns in a few minutes to reload if water is still present.
The scout bee
Foragers can take on scout duties as well. The scout bee locates food sources and passes on the information to other bees by a series of dance-like movements. She circles around and around, stamping her legs and wagging her abdomen; sometimes she stretches her proboscis, possibly to show the type of food she has found. The onlooking workers watch her dance, interpret it and act accordingly. It is believed that different dances show different types of information to be passed on.
Another most important duty of the scout bee in a new swarm is to search for a suitable accommodation, while the rest of the swarm waits on a tree branch or in a small enclosure. On finding a suitable hollow or hive, she returns to the swarm and performs a characteristic dance to inform them about the find. When two or more bees make different finds, each scout dances especially vigourously in an attempt to win the support of the swarm.
Robber bees
All worker or foraging bees are thieves. They claim anything they like as their own property. They snatch honey away from honey harvesters from other swarms during the daytime, especially when the weather is sunny and bright. In the rich savannah bee-zones where water is scarce, bees easily steal water from villagers. Robber bees visit other colonies' hives and try to take honey in order to store it in their own hive. The problem of hive robbing is not as serious in tropical Africa as in America and elsewhere. Only very weak colonies are sometimes robbed; usually it is abandoned hives that other colonies invade to take advantage of the honey stored in the comb cells.
It is strange that bees often fail to take advantage of water or any sweet juice located close to the hive, but when it is placed further away (about 20 metres or more) they take it. This shows that the beekeeper should always watch his hives to avoid leakages of honey, for the leak will not be recovered by his own bees but by other bees from elsewhere, thus encouraging robbing.

The pre-requisites which are considered must to start beekeeping are as follows
  • Knowledge and training on bee keeping
  • Knowledge on local bee flora
  • Sufficient local bee flora
  • Knowledge of migratory bee keeping
Apiary site requirements
  • The site should be dry without dampness. High RH will affect bee flight and ripening of nectar.
  • Water: Natural or artificial source of water should be provided.
  • Wind breaks: Trees serve as wind belts in cool areas.
  • Shade: Hives can be kept under shade of trees. Artificial structures can also be constructed to provide shade.
  • Bee pasturage and florage: Plants that yield pollen and nectar to bees are called bee pasturage and florage. Such plants should be plenty around the apiary site.
General apiary management practices
1. Hive inspection: Open the hive at least twice a week and inspect for following details. Hive record also is to be maintained for each hive.    
    • Presence of queen
    • Presence of eggs and brood.
    • Honey and pollen storage
    • Presence of bee enemies like wax moth, mite, disease
2. Expanding brood net: It is done by providing comb foundation sheet in empty frame during honey flow period.
3. Supering (Addition of frames in super chamber): This is done when brood chamber is filled with bees and all frames are covered. Comb foundation sheet or constructed comb is provided in super chamber
4. During breeding season
During honey flow season there is considerable increase in the foraging activity of the workers and in the rate of egg laying by the queen. Necessary additional space has to be provided for all these and this is done through supply of new, clean, yellow combs or comb foundation sheets.
In the case of weak stocks, the population can be increased, taking advantage of the favourable environmental conditions, by giving brood combs from strong colonies or by simply changing its position to that of a strong colony in a bright morning when the bees are busy.   The bees of the strong colony after their foraging trip return to the weak hive now located in the site of their original home and thus the weak colony becomes strong.  This should be done in a prosperous season and at a time when bees are busy.  
5. Swarm control
The strength of colonies gets denoted as a result of Swarming. Swarming can be prevented by clipping off special queen brood cells as they are constructed,  since a colony  does not send out a swarm unless a new queen is ready to take the place of the reigning queen.
There are a few other methods of swarm control in which the natural instincts of the bees for dispersal and perpetuation of species are not curbed but aim at relieving the spatial congestion and readjustment of different castes and categories of population (a) Primary swarm is allowed to take  place but trapped in a swarm trap and hived as a separate colony.  The after-swarms are prevented by destroying the remaining queen brood cells (b) One or two brood combs in the strong colonies which are inclined to issue swarms are removed and given to weak colonies.   (c) A brood comb with the reigning queen and a few workers taken out and put in a separate hive and thus the colony is divided, (d) Inter-change of positions between a strong and weak colony.
6. Artificial feeding
Bees do not visit each and every flower. They visit only flowers having ample pollen and nectar (non-toxic to them) and it should be within their reach. Therefore, the bee flora of a particular region is most important for the bee industry. Whenever there is a dearth of nectar and pollen in nature and the stock of these materials is not in the hive, then artificial feeding becomes imperative. The dearth periods vary from region to region in this country. If the bees are not fed artificially during dearth period, they start starving and dwindling, develop wander lust and ultimately abscond. White sugar syrup is a cheap substitute of honey but no pollen substitutes have been tried in this country although different pollen substitutes have been found useful elsewhere. Attempts to replace sugar syrup by cheap cane jaggery to the colonies resulted in the absconding of bee colonies because in most of the cases they did not accept it and suffered from starvation; in some cases if they accepted it they suffered from dysentery.
Preparation of artificial feed. Sugar syrup is prepared by dissolving 100 g of sugar in 150-200 ml of hot water, boiled and cooled. It is offered in 400 ml glass-bottle or cigarette tins with their mouth covered with a mark in cloth held tightly with rubber band or thread. The syrup bottle is placed upside down in the super with or without inner cover. The colonies should be fed on alternate days in the evening.
Effect of artificial feeding: The bee colonies should be fed well during dearth period, especially in winter season. In such cases swarming is induced earlier and this helps a beekeeper in making the bee colonies strong before honey-flow season starts.
7. Provision of Drinking Water
A source of fresh water within a short distance of an apiary is essential. Water is required to blend with the food and to lower the temperature of the hives during hot weather. Water can be supplied in a tank or an earthen pot set up so as to permit the water to drip. The water can be given in a glass bottle inside the hive also.
8. Uniting bee colonies
The question of uniting stock of bees arises only when the colony becomes weak or queen less and all attempts of requeening fail. It is then necessary that weak colonies should be united. As each colony has its own peculiar odour, it is necessary either to blend the odours of the two colonies slowly or suppress both by a stronger one. If this is not done the bees of the two colonies fight. The colonies to be united should be brought near each other by moving them closer, 0.5 to 1.0 m each day, so that incoming bees may not drift back to old site when the colonies are sufficiently close. Two other methods described below can also be used for uniting the colonies.
Newspaper method: Bring colonies side by side by moving 30 cm/day
  • Remove queen from week colony
  • Keep a newspaper on top of brood chamber of queen known as right colony
  • Make holes on the paper
  • Keep queen less colony on top of right colony. 
  • Close hive entrance so that the smell of bees get mixed in both the colony
  • Unite bees to the brood chamber and make it one colony.
Smoke method: Both colonies should be smoked heavily and then dumped into one hive. More smoke should be blown into the common hive.
9. Handling the Queen
The queen is the most important and indispensable individual in the bee colony, and should be handled properly and carefully.
10. Finding the queen
The presence of an active queen in the colony can be judged by the presence of worker eggs. If, however, it is essential to spot her or to catch her, then she must be searched properly. In a strong colony sometimes it may be difficult to spot the queen at the first look.
Test for the absence of queen. It is often necessary to be sure that a colony is really queen less before introducing a new queen. The bees of a queen less colony always develop nervousness. They do not sit properly in the comb. There will be no egg-laying or worker egg laying without uniformity in combs (more than one egg in cells).
11. Introduction of the queen
Of several methods of introducing the queen, some are direct and others indirect. For safe introduction, first it should be made sure that the colony into which it is to be introduced is really queen less and further that no queen cell is present in the brood combs. The queen should be put into a queen-introducing cage, with the exit plugged with queen candy, and then placed in the centre of the brood nest. The queen can be kept in a small specimen tube, the mouth of which is closed with a muslin cloth having a small hole to permit it to escape eventually.
12. Increasing the Number of Colonies
It is very important for beekeeper to increase his bee colony every year and this can be done by dividing the existing colonies into 2 or 3 sub-colonies with fresh queens.
(i) A bee colony can be established by purchasing it from a private or a government organization. Only those colonies should be selected or purchased which have at least 5-6 brood frames covered with bees and a healthy active queen.
(ii) The number of colonies can be increased by dividing the existing colonies during swarming season, when the queen cells are constructed. It is done by keeping 50 per cent brood combs with old queen in an empty hive. The hive should be removed at least 0-8 km away from its original site. The other half of the colony with queen cells should be kept in the original site.
(iii) Another method is to let the colony swarm, and the swarms arc captured and transferred to empty hives by giving brood comb from another colony. The swarms can be kept in the same vicinity.
(iv) Bee colonies can be captured from natural sources. Before bagging the colony, smoke should be applied. The combs are cut and placed in frames with wire to which they are firmly secured. The frames are transferred to a hive along with the bees.
Seasonal management: Pollen and nectar are available only during certain period. When surplus food source are available it is known as honey flow season. In contrast during dearth period there will be scarcity of food. During extremes in climate like summer, winter and monsoon certain specific management tactics are required.
13. Honey flow season management
This season coincides with spring. During this season,
  • Provide more space for honey storage by giving comb foundation sheet or built combs
  • Confine queen to brood chamber using queen excluder
  • Prevent swarming as explained in swarm management
  • Prior to honey flow, provide sugar syrup and build sufficient population
  • Divide strong colonies into 2-3 new colonies, if colony muitiplication is needed
  • Queen rearing technique may be followed to produce new queens for new colonies
14. Summer management
Bees have to survive intense heat and dearth period by following means.
  • Provide sufficient shade, under trees or artificial structure
  • Increase RH and reduce heat by Sprinkling water twice a day on gunny bag or rice straw put on hive
  • Increase ventilation by introducing a splinter between brood and super chamber
  • Provide sugar syrup, pollen supplement, substitute and water
15. Winter management
It includes the following
  • Maintain strong and disease free colonies
  • Provide new queen to the hives
  • Provide winter packing in cooler areas hilly regions
16. Management during dearth period
  • Remove empty combs and store in air tight container.
  • Use dummy division board to confine bees to small area
  • Unite weak colonies
  • Provide sugar syrup, pollen supplement and substitute
17. Rainy season and monsoon management
  • Avoid dampness in apiary site. Provide proper drainage
  • In rain when bees are confined to the hive, provide sugar syrup feeding
18. Bee pasturage or bee forage
Plants that yield pollen and nectar are collectively called bee pasturage or bee forage. Plants which are good source of nectar are tamarind, moringa, neem, Prosopis juliflora, Soapnut tree, Glyricidia maculata, eucalyptus, Tribulus terrestris and pungam. Plants which are good source of pollen are sorghum, sweet potato, maize, tobacco, millets like cumbu, tenai, varagu, ragi, coconut, roses, castor, pomegranate and date palm. Plants which are good source of both pollen and nectar are banana, peach, citrus, guava, apple, Sunflower, berries,  safflower, pear, mango and plum.
Foraging: This refers to collection of nectar and pollen by bees.
Nectar foragers: These collect nectar from flowers using lapping tongue and pass the nectar to hive bees. Hive bees repeatedly pass the nectar between pre oral cavity and tongue to ripen the honey. Later they drop the ripened honey into cells.
Pollen foragers: They collect pollen by passing through different flowers. Pollen sticking to the body is removed by using pollen comb. Then it is packed using pollen press into corbicula or pollen basket. A single bee carries 10 to 30 mg of pollen which is 25 per cent of bee's weight. Then the pollen is dislodged by middle leg into cells. Pollen is mixed with honey and stored.
Pollen foraging
Floral fidelity: A bee visits same species of plant for pollen and nectar collection until the source is exhausted. This is known as floral fidelity. Bees travel 2 to 3 km distance to collect pollen and nectar.

Bee Pasturage in India
Bee Pasturage in India Bee Pasturage in India Booklet No. 265 Apiculture: APS-4 Contents Preface I. Introduction II. Foraging Behaviour of Bees III. Nectar Potential in India IV. Judging Local Nectar Potential V. Bees and Pollination VI. Foraging Bees for Pollen Collection VII. Conclusion
Bee pasturage means the area with lot of plants, wild or cultivated having nectar 'and pollen bearing flowers. As India is having a wide varieties of floral geography the bee pasturage also varies. Hence the bee keeper should have a fairly good idea about the geographical area from the point of view of bee pasturage. Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education
I. Introduction The plants that yield both pollen and nectar are called bee pasturage. However, honey bees gather nectar, pollen, propolis and water as their food. Nectar is a sweet secretion from the floral and extra floral nectarines of blossoms. It. is the basic raw product of honey. It consists of dissolved sugar i.e. sucrose, glucose and fructose. The plants that produce nectar only are called bee forage. Pollen is a highly proteinaceous food for bees. The plants that produce only pollen are called pollen plants. Pollen being completely independent plant cell, contains the substances which make up a living cell, and is therefore very good bee food. It provides the bees all their requirements of amino-acids, vitamins and minerals. The amount of pollen collected by a colony depends upon the colony's immediate requirements. There is a correlation between amount of brood present in a colony and the amount of pollen collected. A colony increases the number of bees collecting pollen, when the colony finds reduced amount of pollen arriving into the brood. Propolis is a resinous substance which is gathered mainly from buds and bark of trees like alder, poplar, horse, chestnut and wounds of woody plants. It is used for sealing up cracks in the hive or nest and reducing the size of the entrance. Water is required inside the hive to regulate the temperature and to dilute stores of honey. Much water is collected in early spring and hot summer before the supply of nectar is readily available. The colony survives on its stored honey during the hot summer weather.
II. Foraging Behaviour of Bees The honey bees starts its foraging activity between 5 to 6 in the morning. Flight usually depends on the weather and temperature. The bees will not leave the hive if the temperature is below 15°C and the wind speed is above 30 km per hour. Most of the bees return home carrying load of nectar, pollen or both. Pollen collection is stimulated by the presence of brood in the hive. Some bees visit only pollen producing flowers like corn, rose poppy etc. for collection of pollen. Other bees collect nectar only. The proportion of bees that collect one substance only or both, varies with the nectar and pollen availability in tile vicinity. Bees frequently change their activity during the same day. The average nectar load weighs 40 milligrams. Pollen load have an average weight of about 15 milligrams. Bees have been found flying about up to 6 km in search of forage.
III. Nectar Potential in India A bee keeper must know the nectar potential of his locality before making any investment to start this enterprise. Nectar is the basic raw product of honey. The days when a good number of plants have nectar to be foraged by honey bees is called a honey flow period. If tile nectar yield is copious obtained from a good number of plants of a particular species, it is called major honey flow period. When the amount of nectar to be collected is small is called a minor flow period and the days when there is no honey flow is called a dearth period. Some examples of suitable localities, based on the availability of bee pasturages in India are described below, as bee keeping is only profitable if bee pasturage is abundantly available in a particular locality.
1. Kulu valley Kulu valley in Himachal Pradesh is suitable for bee keeping because there are nectar secreting plants available in large number. It has two major honey flow periods. i.e. spring and autumn. The nectar mostly comes from fruit bloom and barberry during spring. Plectranthus ( a flowering plant in Kulu) produces enough nectar during autumn. The dearth period in Kulu valley is not of a long duration. It occurs in summer from mid June to mid August. Winter dearth period coincides with the coldest part of the year when bees are inactive.
2. Kangra valley Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh is a suitable area for beekeeping because there is a regular flow of bee pasturage , throughout the year. A major honey flow is experienced during spring season whereas an average honey flow is noticed during milder winter. During the rest of the year a minor honey flow is observed.
3. Punjab plains The plains of Punjab are not a suitable locality for beekeeping, because it has only a short spell of major honey flows in winter and spring. There is long dearth period from mid May to mid November, when bees are active for collecting the forage but bee pasturage is not available in the locality. Also bees have to face bigger herds of enemies, namely, wasps, ants, wax months, bee eaters etc.
4. Karnataka state The western ghat area in Karnataka is famous for its honey and bee wax. Its honey flow period is from mid January to June. Bee forages (nectar) is available in plenty from plants like Diospyros nontana, D. Candollena, Tenninalia crenulata, Vitex leuconylon and Elaeocarpus setrrantus. A major honey flow i.e. surplus nectar, is obtained from Syzygium cumini, Skeels caryophylatus and Scheffera venulosa. Monsoon season is from June to August. It receives a torrential incessant rains, which confines colonies with sugar syrup. The post monsoon period is from mid August to mid- November, which is a minor honey flow period. Only small amount of pollen and nectar is available from Aneitema, Holigarna, Litsea, Impatiens, Cassia etc. The winter season is from November to January is again a minor honey flow period. Very little forage is available from plants like calamus, caryota. Alseodaphne and Croton. This results in weakening and heavy losses of the colonies.
5. Kashmir valley Kashmir valley has two distinct periods, i.e. major honey flow, period and winter dearth period. The major honey flow period starting from spring and ending in autumn.
The surplus honey yielding sources are: Robinia pseudoacacia, Aesculus hippocastunum, Prunus avium, Rosa spp, Pleetranthus rugasus, Brassica juncea, Fagopyrum esculenlum, Iris eusata, Crocus saliva and lmpatients glandulifera. Kashmir valley is known for its traditional beekeeping which requires nominal expenditure and attention. The only precaution required before adopting the modem beekeeping techniques in Kashmir is against acarine and virus diseases.
6. Uttar Pradesh hills In this region, bee pasturage is available throughout the year. Both cultivated and wild plants provide pollen and nectar. The colonies develop well in spring. Natural swarming occurs in early March to April. The period from April to June is a major honey flow period. The rainy season is well marked from mid June to mid September. The honey bees get less time to collect the pollen and nectar, but bee pasturage is available from a few plants like Tenninalia lomenlosa and several herbs and grasses. Wasp and to some extent wax moth are the worst enemies during rainy season. Autumn season starting in October and ending in November is again good for the development of bee colonies. During this period tendency to rear queens is found in bee colonies. This period have a good honey flow from plants like Eugenia, Prunus, Pletlranlhus etc. During winter from December to January, both availability of bee pasturage and the bee activities decline. Therefore, winter packing is required 3ccording to the altitude and severity of winter.
7. Uttar Pradesh plains In the plains of Uttar Pradesh summer season from April to June is a honey flow season. The weather is hot, however, bees are active in collecting bees pasturage from cloves. cucurbits. some vegetables and wild trees like Azadirachta. Eugenia, Tamarindus etc. In the later half of the summer bee flora decreases, brood rearing depletes to a great extent, water requirements of the colonies shoots up and enemies like wax moth and ants become quite active. Supply of enough fresh water, liquid fluid, shade and windbreak becomes requirements of the colony during summer months. The rainy season is followed by summer. Besides high temperature, atmospheric humidity also increases. Bee pasturage becomes available in plenty.
The plants that provide bee pasturage are : maize. sorghum, cotton and some legumes. The bees collect pollen and nectar during the interval when rain stops. This results in faster bee activities. Under these conditions of high temperature, humidity and less opportunity for bees to collect food, it becomes necessary to make proper check on wax moth and ants. Colonies require open shade and enough thick food. The rest of the period up to spring through winter is good for bee forage supply. The important plants that provide pollen and nectar are mustard, ram, eucalyptus and cloves. This period receives a good honey flow.
8. Chotanagpur region Chotanagpur in Bihar is quite rich in flora producing bee pasturage. Except two months of July and August there is a regular supply of bee forages. The important plants of this region are: eucalyptus. mango, litchi. jamrm. karanj, tamerind, gulmohur, ber, niger, arhar, drumstick etc.
9. Andaman and Nicobar There are plenty of flora which provide a peak honey collection season from Decembcr to May. But this island gets a rainfall of, about 300 cm from May to December with cyclones and gales. Therefore, bees are less active during three months of July to September and require artificial feeding. Rains and wind make the colony weak and sometimes colonies get lost though plenty of bee pasturage is available.
10. Mahableshwar region This region is rich in bee pasturages. The rainy season in this area is during June to September. During this dearth period colonies are migrated to plains, where rainfall is about 20 to 24 inches and rich in bee pasturages. The period of January to February is major dearth, period. The main honey flow period is from February to July.
11. Meghalaya region Bee keeping in Meghalaya has not attained much importance though a number of plants producing bee pasturage are available throughout the year. Some important plants like oilseed crops, vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, and ornamental plants are the natural bee pasturage of this region. The region is best for beekeeping. The weather in this region remains humid throughout the season and the temperature ranges from 5°C to 31C which is suitable for bee activities. Sometimes winters are very cold. Therefore, a migratory beekeeping has been found more popular in this region.
12. Padgaon in Maharashtra Padgaon region in Maharashtra is one of the major honey yielding centre in southern Maharashtra. A number of plants belonging to families as Araliaceae. Myrtaceae, Combretaceae, Labiateae, Acanthaceae. Rubiaceae, etc. are bee forages. Two honey flow seasons, one major during the summer months and second minor during the winter months are seen. Two dearth periods, one large during rainy season and a shorter during the spring have been spotted for this region.
IV. Judging Local Nectar Potential The broad description of bee pasturage in India explain what is meant by suitability of various regions for bee keeping based on its nectar and pollen potential. The evaluation of the nectar potential of your locality can be done by asking following questions.
a. How many blossoming periods are there in your locality?
b. How long each blossoming period lasts?
c. Are the flowers visited by honeybees for nectar or pollen or both?
d. Are bees able to collect surplus honey from some abundant crops of flowers year after year?
 e. What are tile nectar secreting and flowering plants besides the major crops of tile area?
f. How long is the dearth period?
g. What blossom plants are found in abundance in one to two kilometer radius of the place selected for apiary?
h. How far weather conditions disturb bees in collecting bee, pasturage?
More the number of blossom periods in a year in an area greater will be the potential for beekeeping. Even if the number of blossoming periods are few but the duration is longer that favours beekeeping. Whether bees are visiting for pollen or nectar can be noted by observing the bees on the flowers or on the entrance of hive. This observation can provide us the type of flowering plants (nectar bearing or pollen bearing or both) in an area at a particular period of the year and also whether the bees are more in need of pollen or nectar or both. Area with special crops having more nectar or pollen has a higher suitability for beekeeping. Similarly areas with more varieties of nectar secreting natural flower has a high favourable condition for beekeeping. Shorter the dearth period greater will be the bee pasturage. Areas close to (within 2-6, km) nectar and pollen bearing plant and crops are suitable for beekeeping. Finally the favourable weather conditions such as temperature between 15o to 35°C wind speed less than 30 km per hour, clear sunny days are favourable for bee pasturage. Too cold, hot and rain days prevent bee from pasturage.
V, Bees and Pollination , Honey bees while collecting their bee pasturage from flowers of various crops do an important work of pollination for plants. In some crop species, it is so important that bees visit the flower for pollinating and setting any fruit or seed. Pollination is tIle transfer of pollen from tile male flower to the female flower of the same or another flower of the same species. Pollination can be carried out by insects, wind, water and in rare instances by animals, other titan insects, including birds and bats. The most common pollinating agents are wind and insects. Among insects, honey bees are tile most important one since they have a large population living in a colony and collecting pollen and nectar from the flowers. Honey bees have got gregarious behaviour which make possible to keep them in hives and places where pollinations are required. The special contribution of honey bees in the pollination of various crops like fruit trees, bushes, vegetable crops and legume crops are described here.
A. Pollination of fruit trees Many kinds of insects visits the flowers of fruit trees for their food. The special ability of honey bees to pollinate fruit trees or bushes can be established by an experiment, in which some fruit trees are caged during flowering period along with a bee colony, and some other fruit trees are kept open for other insects to visit in a natural way. The results on plants of strawberries, kept in green house with bees showed that flowers were fully pollinated and produced healthy fruits. Whereas the fruits from uncaged trees were malformed and yield obtained was very poor. Thus, experiment confirmed the role of honey bees in pollination for the fruit trees. Some more advantages of honey bee pollination in fruit trees are given here.
1. Self pollination Fruit tree may naturally be a predominantly self-pollinated, but some varieties are definitely benefited in their natural mode of pollination through honey bees. This occurs in such a way that the fruit flowers, which have mature pollen and receptive stigma and waiting for their natural mode of pollination complete their job when visited by bees. The pollen from the anther to the stigma is transferred through the body of the honey bee.
2. Adequate pollination The population of the insects other than bees, in many areas have diminished by use of insecticides or fluctuation of climate from year to year. Attempts to increase their population have not been so far proved successful. Therefore, the honey bees are the only insect under human management as pollinating agent. The bees does tile act of pollination adequately and uniformly, as it scrabbles over the anther pulling at them with its legs and biting them. Their body becomes covered with pollen. This helps in uniform and adequate pollination as bees visit flower to flower.
3. Spread of compatible pollen Some orchards are inadequately equipped with pollinator varieties. This requires' some artificial means for collecting compatible pollen and also a system to spread the pollen uniformly among compatible varieties. This is done by construction of a bee hive in such a way that each bee going into the hive, has to pass through a 'pollen trap' and empty its pollen pellet. Similarly each outgoing bee, has to walk through a 'pollen dispenser' containing pollen of compatible variety. This system thus helps to collect and spread compatible pollen in the orchards.
B. Pollination of vegetable crops Among the more important vegetables requiring or benefiting from insect pollination are snap and lima beans, beets, carrots, celery, cole crops, crucifers, cucurbits, egg plant, lettuce, onion, pepper and tomato. Cucurbits i.e. cucumber, pumpkin, squash and melons are especially dependent on the insects for pollination. Therefore, the honey bees can also do the following role in the pollination of vegetable crops.
1. Uniform pollination Installing one or more colonies of honey bees per acre increases the total yield and improves fruit size, shape and uniformity of development time. The factors especially important in case of cucumber are result of uniform pollination by bees.
 2. Cross pollination Successful plant breeding programmes are currently producing vigorous hybrid strains of onion and carrots. Crosses are made using male sterile lines and honey bees to transfer the pollen. The similar breeding technique is now used for recently discovered male sterile lines in vegetables such as soyabeans, tomato and cole crops.
3. Pollination of legumes Among the most important legumes that are benefited insect pollination are alfalfa (Medicago sativa), clovers (Trifolium), sweet clover (Melilotus), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), birds foot (Lotus cornicuatus), beans (Vicia faloa). Pollination in legumes are done by a 'tripping mechanism', i.e. as the insect visit the flower, the reproductive parts, anther lobes and stigma enclosed in the keel are forced to come out and touch the body of the insect, by the weight of the insect of its probing activity. Honey bees do not successfully pollinate commercial legume crops like alfalfa grown for seed production. Another type known as alfalfa leaf cutting be Megachile pacifica is found to be completing 70% of the polination activities on seed alfalfa. The alfalfa leaf cutting bee is a favoured pollinator of seed alfalfa in the North latitudes of America. It has a high fidelity to alfalfa bloom and its foraging period is naturally synchronised with alfalfa blooming period. Its gregarious behaviour make it readily manageable for nesting in man made nesting places. Still another bee known as alkali bee (Nomia melanderi) is an important insect in alfalfa seed production of the Pacific north west. It is a major pollinator up to 30 per cent of the acreage.
VI. Foraging Bees for Pollen Collection In recent years, there has been an ever increasing interest in employing honey bees to collect pollen for various uses in human diet, plant breeding etc. Demand for pollen has increased markedly and many bee-keepers are now involved in pollen collection and sale even though it results in decreased honey production. Pollen is collected through bees by attaching to the beehive, a special device called pollen trap. A. Pollen trap Pollen trap consists of a grid made of wire cloth, two mesh per square centimeter or 5 mesh per square inch and wire size 22 gauge. Thus is designed in such a way, that at the entrance of the hive a pollen laden bee must pass through the grid in order to enter the hive. The dimensions of the grid allow the bee to have to access the hive only after her pollen load has been dislodged. The loose pollen pellets fall into a tray that is periodically emptied by the bee-keepers. Often two grids are used, spaced 5-6 cm apart to increase the pollen trapping efficiency. A well constructed pollen trap will collect about 50 per cent of tile incoming pollen i.e. 500 g of pollen per day during major honey flow period. The process of pollen collection by pollen trap requires some precautions. They are mentioned here.
1. Drying of pollen The collected pollen is subjected to sun dry as quickly as possible to save it from spoilage by moulds. For this purpose, some pollen trays are lined with cloth or a fine screen to facilitate the drying of the pollen.
2. Prevention of re-gathering The bees are attracted towards the nearest sources of pollen i.e. tray containing trapped pollen. To avoid such loss of pollen, the tray is covered with a piece of screen 3 -4 mesh per square; centimeter or 7-8 mesh per square inch to prevent the bees from entering and regathering the pollen.
3. Pollen spoilage The environmental humidity occasionally pose a special problem in collection of pollen. Pollen gets wet and spoiled. Therefore, care must be taken to prevent the pollen from getting spoiled during humid environment of the bee hive. Pollen should be collected frequently and the tray should be cleaned and dried at each collection. Pollen traps are usually constructed of wood rather than metal, since there is less moisture condensation on the wooden surfaces. Pollen traps should be installed only in those hives whose parts are tightly fitting.
4. Pollen trapping stress It is a fact that the queen employs a certain number of workers to collect pollen, to meet the immediate needs of the colony like brood rearing etc. But the same pollen have been stacked by the artificial device pollen trap in the entrance. This results in pollen trapping stress on the colony. To avoid such stresses, the traps should be used only on healthy populous colonies during period when pollen is plentiful. Pollen traps should be removed periodically i.e. after about ten days, to allow the colony to collect pollen for its own use. If the favourable conditions continue, the trap can then be reinstalled.
5. Spread of diseases Most of the trapped pollen is used for the feeding of honey bees. The use of contaminated pollen from tile trap results in spread of chalkboard disease and other problems. To avoid such losses, it is imperative that pollen be trapped only from healthy colonies and carefully cleaned to remove any possible pathogenic material. B. Uses of pollen Trapped pollen is used in a variety of research programmes including studies in plant breeding, pollination, and human consumption. It is also used in preparation of pollen supplement for honey bees and as a food supplement for humans. The various uses of trapped pollen are given below.
1. Pollination Pollen is kept in a 'pollen dispenser' device fixed at the exit gate of the hive in such a way that each outgoing bee has to walk through the pollen. The pollen adheres to the body of the bees and is spread in the field for effective pollination.
2. Human consumption Bee collected pollen is used as a part of the human diet. European athletes were among the first to use pollen as a food supplement and reported positive effects. At present, pollen is used as a health food (tonic) or in the treatment of certain diseases i.e. prostaitis, bleeding stomach ulcers, respiratory infections and the control of allergy reactions.
3. pollen nutrition Pollen is the principal source of proteins, vitamins, lipids and minerals for honey bees. A shortage of pollen can result in the failure of honey bee colonies to develop their optimum populations. For this reason pollen during abundant flow periods are collected for feeding the colonies during the period of shortage. Sometimes a pollen substitute or a pollen supplement are fed to the colonies.
8. Pollen substitute A pollen substitute is any material that can be fed to colonies to replace its need for natural pollen i.e. soyabean meal or dried whey.
b. Pollen supplement A pollen supplement contains 10 per cent of natural pollen mixed with some other protein source. Pollen substitutes that are widely used are in the form of a dry mixture or a moist patty. i. Dry mixture Ten per cent dry pollen, free from infection of diseases is mixed in dry mixture containing soya bean flour 3 parts, dried brewer's yeast one part, and dried skimmed milk one part. This dry mixture is fed to bees in a feed lot system. This requires protection from adverse weather conditions.
ii. Moist patty 450 g of dry mixture prepared as above is mixed with cold sugar syrup prepared by dissolving 2 parts by volume of sugar in 1 part hot water. The mixed paste is converted into patties. Patty is placed as close as possible to the combs containing unsealed brood, for feeding to the bees.
VIII, Conclusion What is described is only a general feature of the major geographical areas in India which can be used as bee pasturage. However, a bee keeper has to build up from this general understanding a more practical and specific understanding of his area as a bee pasturage.
He can also build up a bee pasturage

Geographic Range

Apis mellifera is native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa. Human introduction of Apis mellifera to other continents started in the 17th century, and now they are found all around the world, including east Asia, Australia and North and South America. (Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998; Winston, et al., 1981)

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