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Apiculture- Different Bee Castes, Hiving of bees and Apiary Management – Development of Honey Bee plant – Study guide of Educational

          It deals with rearing and maintenance of honeybees for the production of honey on a commercial scale. 

Different Bee Castes

        Every honey bee colony comprises of a single queen, a few hundred drones and several thousand worker castes of honey bees. Queen is a fertile, functional female, worker is an unfertile female and the drone is a fertile male.

    Honey bee species are social insects which live in colonies. A bee colony comprises of three different castes which perform different duties.

1. Queen

2. Workers

3. Drone

Duties of a queen

  • The only individual which lays eggs in a colony (Mother of all bees).
  • Lays upto 2000/day in Apis mellifera.
  • Five to Ten days after emergence, she mates with drones in one or more nuptial flights.
  • When her spermatheca is filled with sperms, she will start laying eggs and will not mate any more.
  • She lives for 3 years.
  • The secretion from mandibular gland of the queen is called queen’s substance.
  • The queen substance if present in sufficient quantity performs following functions.
  • Prevent swarming and absconding of colonies.
  • Prevent development of ovary in workers.
  • Colony cohesion is maintained.
  • The queen can lay either fertilized or sterile eggs depending on the requirement.

Duties of a drone

  • Their important duty is to fertilize the queen.
  • They also help in maintenance of hive temperature.
  • They cannot collect nectar / pollen and they do not possess a sting.

Duties of a worker

Their adult life span of around 6 weeks can be divided into

a)     House hold duty- First three weeks-

b)     Out door duty- Rest of the life-

a) House hold duty (First three weeks confined in hive and are called House bees or Nurse bees) 

  • Build comb with wax secretion from wax glands.
  • Feed the young larvae with royal jelly secreted from hypo pharyngeal gland.
  • Feed older larvae with bee-bread (pollen+ honey)
  • Feeding and attending queen.
  • Feeding drones.
  • Cleaning, ventilating and cooling the hive.
  • Guarding the hive.
  • Evaporating nectar and storing honey.

b)     Outdoor duties (After three weeks go out for foraging and are called Field bees or Foraging bees)

  • Collecting nectar, pollen, propolis and water.
  •     Water is collected to cool the hive, to dilute honey and to dilute propolis.
  •     Propolis is a resinous substance exuded by buds of trees and used to close the   crevices in the comb and to make the comb water proof. 
  •    Nectar is stored in crop region of fore gut. It is called as honey stomach. By adding the enzyme Invertase the sucrose of nectar is transferred to fructose and glucose.    
  •    Pollen is important nutrient along with nectar and carried to hive @ 20 mg / load.
  • Ripening honey in honey stomach.

Apiary Management 

General apiary management practices

i. Hive inspection – Opening the hive at least twice a week and inspecting for following details.

  • Presence of queen
  • Presence of eggs and brood
  • Honey and pollen storage
  • Hive record to be maintained for each hive
  • Presence of bee enemies like wax moth, mite, disease

ii. Expanding brood net

  • Done by providing comb foundation sheet in empty frame during honey flow period.

iii. Sugar syrup feeding

  • Sugar dissolved in water at 1:1 dilution
  • Used to feed bees during dearth period

iv. Supering (Addition of frames in super chamber)

  • This is done when brood chamber is filled with bees on all frames are covered
  • Comb foundation sheet or constructed comb provided in super chamber

v. Honey extraction

  • Bee escape board – Kept between brood and super chamber
  • Bees bushed away using brush
  • Cells uncapped using uncapping knife
  • Honey extracted using honey extractor
  • Combs replaced in hive for reuse

vi. Swarm management

  • Remove brood frames from strong colony and provide to weak
  • Pinch off the queen cells during inspection
  • Divide strong colonies into 2 or 3
  • Trap and hive primary swarm

vii. Uniting bee colonies – Done by Newspaper method

  • Bring colonies side by side by moving 30 cm/day
  • Remove queen from weak colony
  • Keep a newspaper on top of brood chamber of queen – right colony
  • Make holes on the paper
  • Keep queenless colony on top
  • Close hive entrance (the smell of bees will mix)
  • Unite bees to the brood chamber and make it one colony
  • Pollen and nectar available only during certain period
  • Honey flow season (surplus food source) x Dearth period (Scarcity of food)
  • Extremes in climate like summer, winter and monsoon – Need specific management tactics

Honey flow season management (Coincides with spring)

  • Provide more space for honey storage by giving CFS or built combs
  • Confine queen to brood chamber using queen excluder
  • Prevent swarming – As explained
  • Prior to honey flow – Provide sugar syrup and build sufficient population
  • Divide strong colonies into 2-3 new colonies – if colony multiplication is needed
  • Queen rearing technique may be followed to produce new queens for new colonies

Summer management

  • Bees have to survive intense heat and dearth period
  • Provide sufficient shade (under trees or artificial structure)
  • To increase RH and reduce heat – Sprinkle 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

Winter management

  • Maintain strong and disease free colonies
  • Provide new queen to the hives
  • Winter packing in cooler areas (Hilly areas)

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/substitute

Rainy season/monsoon management

  • Avoid dampness in apiary site. Provide proper drainage
  • In rain when bees are confined to the hive, provide sugar syrup feeding

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