• Written By Taufiya Tazeen
  • Last Modified 22-06-2023

Meaning of Apiculture- Learn About Beekeeping


Keeping bees to produce honey, beeswax, royal jelly, flower pollen, and bee pollen is known as apiculture or beekeeping. Technically Apiculture or beekeeping is farming honey bees. The term apiculture is generally defined as the cultivation of bees of the genus apis, which are honeybees. The honey bees contribute greatly to the preservation of nature by collecting flower pollen, bee pollen, etc. Read this article, to learn more about Apiculture or Beekeeping.

Meaning of Apiculture

Apiculture or beekeeping is defined as rearing, caring, and managing honey bees to obtain honey, wax, and other useful substances. In Apiculture, an area is selected for the commercial maintenance of bees in artificial beehives, and such areas are called apiaries. Nectar is collected by honey bees naturally from flowers and stored in their hives. Beehives are a source of wax, which is used in a variety of medicinal preparations in addition to honey.

Products Obtained From Apiculture

As we all know honey is the main product obtained from Apiculture. We also get some other beneficial byproducts during beekeeping practices. Continue reading to know more about these products:

  1. Honey is a sweet and edible fluid that contains nutrients like sugar, water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and even some amount of pollen. Minerals that are present in honey are calcium, iron, manganese and phosphate. Vitamins that are found in it are Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Pyridoxine, Choline, Ascorbic acid, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin. Flowers from which nectar is gathered affects the flavour and odour of honey. Honey is also an energy-rich food.
  2. Bee Wax is the secretion of worker bees by their wax glands. It has a very high melting point. Bee wax is useful for humans in numerous ways, such as manufacturing cold creams, cosmetics, shaving cream, ointments, lipsticks, polishes, etc.
  3. Propolis and Balms are other important products of Apiculture. These can be used in repairing the comb. Propolis, also known as bee glue, is produced by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds or sap flows. Propolis is used to close the gaps in the beehive. Its colour is dark brown but can vary depending on its botanical nature. They get sticky above \(20\,^\circ {\rm{C}}\) and become hard and brittle at lower temperatures.
  4. Worker honeybees produce a milky secretion called Royal jelly. Royal jelly contains proteins, vitamins, sugar, fats, water, salts and amino acids. Bees use this product to nurture queen bees and hence named as royal jelly. Royal jelly has medicinal properties like honey and can be used to make many homoeopathic and ayurvedic medicines.
  5. Bee Venom is the poison made by bees that makes the bee stings painful. Bee venom also has medicinal properties like other products such as it is used to cure rheumatism, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.

How is Nectar Changed into Honey?

  1. Flowers of the plant secrete a sweet substance called nectar to attract insects or other vectors for pollination.
  2. Honey bees suck this viscous secretion from the flowers and pass it to their honey sac where it gets mixed with some acid secretion.
  3. In the honey sac, sugar (sucrose) of the nectar is converted into dextrose and levulose by the action of an invertase enzyme.
  4. After regurgitation, the treated nectar finally changes into honey which is stored in hexagonal cells of hives for future use.

Types of Honey Bees

Honey bees are social insects that live in colonies in hives. There is only one queen in the colonies of honey bees, thousands of female worker bees, and hundreds of male drones.
Each of these bees performs different tasks. Queen bees are the most important and powerful bees within the colonies.

Types of Honey Bees

Fig: Types of Honey Bees

The members of honey bee colonies can be divided into three types of casts such as

  1. Queen Bee is known as the mother of the colony and all the work inside the hive revolves around her. She lives up to \(2\) to \(5\) years and lays around \(2000\) eggs. These eggs can be fertilized or unfertilized. Drones emerge from unfertilized eggs and both queen and worker bees emerge from fertilized eggs.
  2. Drones are the male members that fertilize the young queens. These are smaller but stouter than the queen.
  3. Workers Bees are the female members that cannot reproduce. They are known to be the most active members of the colony. The functions of worker bees change with age, they live up to \(3\) to \(12\) months. For the first half of their life, they perform indoor duties as scavengers, nurse bees, etc. And the second half of their lives they perform the outdoor duties as scout bees and forager bees.

Common Varieties of Bees

There are indigenous and exotic varieties of bees that are used for the commercial production of honey and wax in India.
Some of the Indigenous Varieties of Honey Bees are:
1. Apis cerana indica (Indian bee)
2. Apis dorsata (Rock bee)
3. Apis florea (Little bee)
Some Exotic Varieties of Honey Bees:
1. Apis mellifera (European or Italian bee)
2. Apis adamsoni (South African bee)
3. Apis mellifera (Italian bee) is commonly used to increase the yield of honey due to the following features:

  1. It has a good honey collection capacity.
  2. Gentle in nature.
  3. Able to protect itself from enemies.
  4. The prolific queen is with less swarming.

Factors Affecting the Process of Apiculture

Factors Affecting the Process of Apiculture

Fig: Apiculture

Apiaries are established for the commercial production of honey. To obtain good quality and higher yields of honey the following points are taken into consideration in the process of apiculture:

  1. Pasturage: The taste of honey mainly depends upon crop, flora or pasturage available for the nectar and pollen collection. Flora of honey bees includes a variety of flowering plants such as mango, coconut, almond, etc.
  2. Beehive: A beehive is a box raised over a stand. The box has a wire gauze with a multi-frame honey chamber for laying eggs and collecting honey. Langstroth, Newton and Jeolikote are three types of artificial beehives in India.     
  3. Apiary Location: It involves setting up beehives to allow maximum nectar and pollen collection in desirable locations. Localities rich in vegetation and flowering plants are chosen as an apiary location. Each hive should face east. Water is an important aspect and must be available nearby.
  4. Honey Flow and Seasons: The yield of honey is also dependent upon the duration for which abundant flora is available. The honey flow period is the total time taken by honey bees to collect nectar and pollen. An abundance of flowers must be available to obtain a large quantity of honey.
  5. Swarming (Reproduction): Swarming is a natural phenomenon where all bees move from one place to another. Swarming is usually done in spring for reproduction in honey bees. The queen leaves the old hives with some workers and drones and moves to a new shelter. The maintenance cost of hives is high, and low yield is seen due to frequent transfers.
  6. Selection of a variety of honey bee and site selection for beekeeping: Less swarming variety such as Apis mellifera (Italian bee) with other desirable characteristics is selected. The location with a longer honey flow time and good pasturage give more yield.

Disease and Danger of Honey Bees

Most commonly honey bees are infected by bacteria, fungi and protozoa diseases, for example:

  1. Bacterium Bacillus apisceptious infects the blood of bees causing septicemia.
  2. An example of fungal diseases is Brood foul disease by Schizomycetes.
  3. Examples of protozoan pathogens that cause infection to bees are Nosema apis and Vahlkampfia mellifica.
  4. Wasps, wax moths, and mites are common enemies of bees.
  5. Some birds such as king crows, blue tits, sparrows etc use bees as their meal.

Protective Measures from Common Insects

  1. Wasps are often controlled manually.
  2. Wax moths are controlled by exposing bees to the sun while they are present in beehives.
  3. Some devices are also used to scare away the bee-eater birds.

Importance of Apiculture

Apiculture has been undertaken on a commercial basis as a business due to the enormous benefits of honey and beeswax. Some important uses of honey and other apiculture products are mentioned below:

  1. Honey is found to be quite useful in the treatment of various disorders of humans related to digestion, dysentery, vomiting and stomach or liver ailments.
  2. Honey is considered as a blood purifier, a cure against cough and cold, sore throat, ulcers of the tongue, stomach and intestine.
  3. Bee wax is used in cosmetics, creams and ointments.
  4. Royal jelly is taken as an invigorating tonic.
  5. Propolis is a health supplement with antibiotic properties.
  6. Bee venom is employed as a cure for rheumatism, arthritis and certain central nervous system diseases.
  7. AIDS virus can be destroyed by honeybees venom as it contains some mixture of proteins.
  8. Pollination depends on honeybees leading to an increase in the yield of several plants.

Summary About Apiculture

Honey is widely used and therefore beekeeping for making honey has become an agricultural enterprise. It also helps farmers to get a better yield as pollen grains are transferred from one flower to another by bees while they are collecting the nectar. Honey bees are one of the most important pollinators of food crops that we eat. Hence, apiculture is also important because it provides a secure and safe place for bees to work and live.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Apiculture

Q.1. Who is the father of apiculture?
Ans: Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth is known as the father of modern apiculture.

Q.2. What are the products obtained by Apiculture?
Ans: Apiculture helps us obtain some useful products such as
a. Honey
b. Bee wax
c. Propolis
d. Royal jelly
e. Bee venom

Q.3. What is the process of Apiculture?
Ans: Apiculture or beekeeping is the process of rearing, care and management of honey bees for obtaining honey, bee wax and other valuable substances.

Q.4. What is the importance of Apiculture?
Ans: 1. Honey and beeswax has many medicinal properties and is used to make many commercially important products.
2. Propolis is used as a health supplement with antibiotic properties.
3. Bee venom is employed as a cure for rheumatism, arthritis and certain central nervous system diseases.
4. AIDS virus can be destroyed by honeybees venom as it contains a certain mixture of proteins.

Q.5. What are the types of bees used in apiculture?
Ans: There are some indigenous and exotic varieties of bees that are used for the commercial production of honey and wax in India:
Some of the Indigenous Varieties of Honey Bees are:
a. Apis cerana indica (Indian bee)
b. Apis dorsata (Rock bee)
c. Apis florea (Little bee)
Some Exotic Varieties of Honey Bees:
a. Apis mellifera (European or Italian bee)
b. Apis adamsoni (South African bee)

We hope this article on Apiculture helps you in your preparation. Let us know in the comments section if you get stuck and we will get back to you at the earliest.

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