BEEKEEPING APPLIANCES AND SEASONAL MANAGEMENT
in this article, we are going to learn briefly about beekeeping, backyard beekeeping basics of beekeeping and beekeeping tools, appliances requirement for beekeeping and the seasonal management of beekeeping.
Table of Contents
- Beekeeping is an art and skill maintaining the bees in modern movable frame hives for the hobby or fascination, production of hive products(honey, bee wax etc.) and for pollination services.
- The practice of rearing bees is called Beekeeping or Apiculture.
- Apiculture is a synonym for beekeeping and is derived from the Latin word “Apiscultura”. Apis means ‘bee’ and cultura means ‘cultivation through education.
- Beekeeping is a high-profit enterprise, it can be taken up both as a subsidiary industry as well as a whole-time profession.
- Initially in 1953 as many as 230 beekeepers, maintained around 800 bee colonies in modern bee boxes and were producing 1, 200 Kg of honey annually.
- Presently it is estimated that with 25.00 Lakhs of bee colonies, 2.50 Lakhs beekeepers and wild honey collectors harvest around 56, 579 MT of honey in the country, which is valued at Rs. 476.04 crores. The average annual per capita consumption in India is 8.4 g.
Honey bees are admired for
- Their industriousness
- Division of labour
- Even the most feared bee stings help in healing muscular pains rheumatism, arthritis and reduction in cholesterol levels.
Beekeeping can be practised as
- An ideal hobby
- Part-time business
- Full-time business
HONEY BEE SPECIES
- Apis florea– Little honeybee
- Apis florea and Apis andreniformis are small honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia.
- They make very small vertical combs, exposed nests in trees and shrubs.
- They produce ½ kg to 1 kg honey per comb.
- Due to high absconding tendency, they can not be kept in an artificial beehive.
- Apis mellifera– European (western, common) honey bee
- European honey bee originated from Italy.
- It is the most commonly domesticated species.
- The behaviour is similar to Apis indica.
- The average production of honey is 50-60 kg per hive.
- It has revolutionized beekeeping in India.
- Apis cerana indica– Indian bee
- It makes parallel combs on trees and rocks.
- It can be easily domesticated.
- The swarming tendency is very high.
- On an average, it produces 8-10 kg of honey per hive
- It is susceptible to wax moths and absconding is common.
- Apis dorsata– Rock bee or gaint bee
- They are most ferocious and they make the largest hives.
- They can not be kept in artificial hives.
- They make nests in trees, rocks and roofs of buildings.
- The swarming tendency is very high.
- They produce 35-40 kg of honey per comb.
- Efficient pollinators of agricultural and horticultural crops.
HONEY BEE CASTES
- The honeybee is a social insect and lives in colonies with a highly organized system of division of labour.
- Many combs are found in a colony in which the members of the same family used to live.
- Each family consists of three castes: queen (fertile female), drones (males) and workers (sterile females).
- Each caste has its special function in the colony. The workers are undeveloped females, the drones are known as males and the queen is the fully developed female.
- Every honey bee colony comprises of 35000 to 70,000 members includes a queen, 200-300 drones and several thousand workers.
BEEHIVES AND EQUIPMENTS FOR BEEKEEPING
- Modern frame hive
- Frame hives are fitted with moveable frames on which the bees are persuaded to build their combs. They are usually composed of several boxes, one on top of the other, in which hive frames are suspended. The lower boxes (1-2) are used for holding the brood and the upper ones (1-2) are used for the collection of honey, pollen and propolis.
- The artificial comb was first introduced by Revd. L.L. Langstroth in 1851 in America. Langstroth hives use standardized sizes of hive bodies (rectangular boxes without tops or bottoms placed one on top of another) and internal frames to ensure that parts are interchangeable and that the frames will remain relatively easy to remove, inspect, and replace without killing the bees.
- Langstroth frames are often reinforced with wire, making it possible to extract honey in centrifuges to spin the honey out of the comb. As a result, the empty frames and comb can be returned to the beehive for use in the next season.
The modern Langstroth hive consists of the following parts.
- Hive stand: The upper hive components rests on this providing a landing board for the bees and helping to protect the Bottom Board.
- Bottom Board:- This has an entrance for the bees to get into the hive.
- Brood Box: It is the bottom box of the hive and is where the queen bee lays her eggs.
- Honey super: Usually shorter than the brood box, but is an upper-most box (s) where honey is stored.
- Frames and Foundation: wooden or plastic frames with wax or plastic sheets with honeycomb impression where bees build wax honeycombs.
- Inner Cover:– Provides separation from the outer cover and can be used as a shelf for feeding or other purposes.
- Outer Cover:– Provides weather protection for the hive.
BEEKEEPING APPLIANCES FOR BEEKEEPING
- Beehive: Newton’s hives, BIS hives and Marthandam hives are suited for rearing Indian bees. Langstroth hives are suited for rearing Italian bees.
- The various component of the beehive should be made from suitable timber that does not emit a strong smell. Kail, teak and toon are some of the suitable timbers. These are usually painted with white, blue, yellow or green.
Top 21 Equipment Require for Beekeeping
Bee veil: Used for covering the face of beekeeper
Bee gloves: Used for protecting from stinging.
Honey scrapper: Used for scrapping the bee glue and combs.
Smoker: Used to produce smoke to drive away from the bees.
Bee brush:- Used for brushing the bees from the honeycomb before extraction. So that the honey is extracted due to centrifugal force.
Comb cutter: Used for cutting and removing old and worn combs.
Frame gripper: Used for removing frames from beehives.
Queen cage: It is a simple rectangular queen introducing cage.
Queen excluder: It is used to separate the brood chamber from the supers where honey is stored.
Swarm bag: It is for putting a swarm into a swarm bag. The swarm bag is opened in the hive to enable the bees to occupy the frames.
Wire embedder:- It is a device used to embed the comb foundation sheet onto the wires of the hive frame.
Comb foundation: It helps in obtaining regular strong worker brood cell comb.
Cold uncapping knife: It is a simple steel knife employed to remove the caps that steels the honey cells after filling before the combs are placed in the honey extractor.
Steam uncapping knife: Uncapping can be done more easily by a steam uncapping knife that has a double-walled blade that is heated by steam.
Uncapping basket: It is a basket in which the caps of honey cells are collected during the uncapping. A wooden T-bar rests on its mouth to support the bottom bar of the hive frame while the uncapping is carried on.
Wire entrance guard: This wire gate is placed in front of the hive entrance also confines the queen inside and thus helps to prevent swarming.
Queen cell protector: It is a cone-shaped structure made up of a piece of wire wound spirally. It fits around a queen cell, giving protection to the queen inside.
Swarm catching basket: It is a small basket made up of bamboo and is used for collecting a sitting swarm and bringing it back to the hive.
Drone trap: The worker escape, whereas the drones or queen when they reach the upper compartment, can not pass through the wire screen excluder and are thus trapped, the drone is the queen trap is used for getting rid of the drones or for confining the queen just for swarming, so as to facilitate the catching of a swarm.
Bee escape: It is a funnel-shaped structure fitted in the inner board which allows the bees to go out of the super. The bees can not come back through the narrow end and the superframes are thus cleared of the worker bees.
Dummy board: It is a wooden partition that fits perpendicular, just like an ordinary frame and serves as a moveable wall.
SEASONAL MANAGEMENT OF BEEKEEPING
- SEASONAL MANAGEMENT
- It varies in different parts of the country although the basic management methods are the same. Flow management, dearth management, provision of feeding, and control and cure of bee disorders, bee diseases, pests and enemies, are some of the routine measures to keep bee colonies healthy and strong.
- Beekeeping activity depends for its success on the execution of a series of coordinated operations determined by the cycle of the seasons and successive flowering of plants. Combination of various operations- routine, seasonal and special is collectively referred to as “Bee colony Management”.
SPRING SEASON MANAGEMENT OF BEEKEEPING
- Spring can also be known as the build-up period. This is when plants are starting to open up and flower. Spring is the time to get bees and start your hive.
- During the spring, the bees will work hard to collect pollen and nectar to build up their food stores. Right now, the colony is focusing on building comb, laying eggs, and caring for the brood.
- If you bought package bees, you may feed them, if necessary.
- Harvest leftover honey. If your existing hive has any honey leftover from winter, you may harvest that honey now.
- Set up and leave an empty hive out in case your colony decides to swarm.
- Observe the brood pattern during hive inspections.
- Confirm that the queen is still alive. If she is not, you must get a new queen as soon as possible.
SUMMER SEASON MANAGEMENT OF BEEKEEPING
- Summer is the honey flow period. You may notice that many flowering plants are now in full bloom. Because of this strong honey flow, bees are able to collect a lot of pollen and nectar. At this time, you may notice a larger amount of food stores in the hive.
- SUMMER TASKS
- Keep the queen in the brood area by inserting a queen excluder.
- Add extra supers when needed.
- Stop feeding the bees, there should be enough nectar for them to forage.
- Ensure that there is a good water source near your hives.
- Frequent hive inspections to see that the brood pattern is good.
- Monitor for varroa mites or other pests.
- Harvest honey if the supers are full
FALL SEASON MANAGEMENT OF BEEKEEPING
- Fall is the time in which beekeepers harvest honey. In the fall, beekeepers must inspect their hives regularly to determine the right time for this. Another important fall task is to make sure that your bees are ready for winter.
- Around honey harvesting time you may notice that there are more worker bees outside the hive. The guard bees may also become more aggressive than usual. Be sure to use a smoker and wear protective clothing when harvesting honey.
- Check the hive signs of pests or disease.
- Remove any diseased comb.
- Can feed bees if dearth starts early.
- Add entrance reducer and mouse guards.
- Ensure that the hive has adequate ventilation.
- If in a windy area, place a weight on top of the hives to prevent them from falling over.
WINTER SEASON MANAGEMENT OF BEEKEEPING
- Winter is the dearth period for bees. That means that there is no pollen or nectar available to the bees. The queen will stop laying eggs at this time, so no more brood will be made.
- Cold temperature is a big reason for a dearth period. When temperatures drop below 50°F, bees are not able to fly well. Instead, they’ll stay in the hive to cluster and form heat.
- Complete all disease treatment and make sure no pests are present.
- Monitor hives for wind damage. If necessary move hives behind a wind break.
- Frequently check hive openings to ensure that there is good ventilation.
- On warmer days, open the hive to check how much food the bees have left.
- If bees run out of food, you may feed them.
- Order and assemble new equipment and bees for next season.
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