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Benefits of Natural Honey Enterprises – Beekeeping for Profitable and Diversified Farming

The author is a villager, M.Phil. in Botany, MBA Marketing, a certificate in IPR and farming in South India. Natural farming is his passion.

Beekeeping

Beekeeping or apiculture is an age-old practise by the farmers. Apis cerana is the scientific name of honey bees which is usually cultured. Honey bees belong to the insect category of living beings and are well known for community activity. These are living examples of community members engaging for a common cause and the efforts made by each member in the group of workers accounts for the common benefit without selfish motives.

The farmers learn a lot about group working habit from the honey bees and these honey bees are also the best companions of the farmers for pollination.

Bee with pollen on its appendages

Bee with pollen on its appendages

Stingless bees

There are different honeybee species producing honey, out of which the melipona or dammer bees are very small and not stinging type. The honey obtained from the hives of this type of bees is highly medicinal type. The honey of the stingless bees is of low glycemic index and more healthy for the diabetic people. Usually, these honey bees make their colonies in the hollows of wood and bamboos.

Types of honeybees

HoneybeesScientific name

Normal honeybees

Apis cerana

Wild honeybees

Apis dorsata

Shrub/ floral honeybees

Apis melifera

Stingless bees

Melipona irridipennis

Stingless bee keeping inside bamboo hollows

Stingless bee keeping inside bamboo hollows

Occupational benefits

For the farmers, on one hand, it is learning of group activity and on the other, getting engaged for honey bee culture and production of honey and more crop. If a farmer maintains 100 beehives, it will be a continuous occupation for him, to look after the colonies, extract the honey and breed and multiply the honeybee colonies.

In the present day, honey bee enterprise is more profitable as compared to cropping alone. It is furthermore profitable to sell honey bee colonies rather than simply extracting the honey and selling it. It is not that honey is not remunerative but selling colonies is more remunerative service-oriented enterprise. There is a great demand for honey bee colonies among the farmers and by selling the colonies the breeder can earn more profit and help other needy farmers as compared to extracting honey alone.

Importance of honey bee in agriculture

Cross pollinated crops get benefit from the honey bee colonies. The honeybees regularly visit the flowers and do pollination. Due to this the crop yield increases and thereby increase in farm production volume due to effective pollination. Aiming at production increase, some farmers also do apiculture and leave it as such, without extracting honey from the beehives.

Harvesting the honey

During sunny morning hours, honeybees do not sting, if you will not hurt them. You can protect yourself with cloth covers to avoid ticklish feeling due to honeybees moving over you. So, carefully you can open the beehive lid and inspect them and clean step by step, without hurting the bees. When the honeycombs are filled and are sealed with bee wax by the honeybees, it is time to harvest the honey. The honeycombs are carefully removed and the seals are opened and the frames are kept on a machine to extract the honey. When the extraction is complete, the empty honeycombs are replaced inside the Supers.

Nowadays there are different techniques which help to avoid bee stings. There are automated beehives available in the market, which are as simple as collecting the honey by just opening out the tap of a honey cans.

Uses of honey

Honey is used for feeding infants and adults. It is not only nutritious but also very tasty. It is also used in human and veterinary oral medicines. Honey is also used in beauty makeups, healing and skin cures. Honey is also used to make squashes and sweets.

By-products are highly valuable

The byproducts of honey extraction is the bee wax. Using the bee wax has a great demand due to its different uses. It is used in medicine and industry. In the cosmetics field also bee wax has been in great demand.

Honey filled bottles

Honey filled bottles

Bee wax cream for curing crack on the heels

Bee wax cream for curing crack on the heels

Dammer or stingless bee honey is very healthy

Pesticides are harmful to honeybees

Honey bees are highly vulnerable and will not tolerate many pesticides. Spraying of strong and unsafe pesticides on your crops causes the death of the honey bees. It may be because the honey bees getting the pesticides to spray or they may come in contact with the flowers which are sprayed with pesticides. Even spraying with some of the antifeedants like neem oil will prevent the honey bees from the flowers and decrease honey yield.

Highly sensitive honey bees acting as the farmer's friends but if we fail to understand this and spray pesticides to eradicate harmful insects, honey bees get eradicated first. The poisonous chemicals have no demarcation between beneficial and harmful insects. They kill everything depending on the potential of the active ingredient. The pesticides are classified as environmentally safe if they do not harm the honeybees and other life, but just avoid the pest infestation. So a honeybee friendly farmer should buy safe pesticides.

Apiculture tools

Many tiny and handy tools are useful for maintaining beehives. Various knives, sieves, blow pumps, masks, wax plates, boxes, frames, smoking devices, honey extracting machines, storage bottles, rain shelters, sun caps, beehive gates, and a lot more types of equipment and supplies are needed at the locality for the farmers. Most of the apiculture communities of farmers, join together to form cooperative companies, to easily get the necessary inputs as well as to market the honey.

A worker bee visiting a flower

A worker bee visiting a flower

Dammer bee in a flower

Dammer bee in a flower

Women are busy beekeeping in rubber plantation

Women are busy beekeeping in rubber plantation

Economy of colonies

Whenever there are plenty of worker bees and plenty of flowers with nectar, honey production will rise. The quality and density of the honey are also dependent on the type of flower which the honey bees are visiting. Most of the time density of the honey in the forest locations are heavier compared to those of the plantations with lighter and thinner honey.

Organoleptic quality of the honey is based on the type of plants from which honey bees visit and collect nectar and to the seasons at which the honey is collected.

Save the honey bees

The death of the honey bees indicates there is pesticide pollution or harmful environment. Now there is a lot of consciousness regarding honey bees and there are campaigns to save honey bees, whenever there are chemical interventions in crop cultivation. To support the honey bees, pesticide spray holidays are proposed by environmentally conscious people.

Honey bees are prone to viral diseases. In many regions, it is a severe problem and entire bee colonies get wiped out because of viral disease. Sometimes wax inhabiting wasps havoc bee culture. Periodic cleaning and wasp prevention netting will help in preventing wasp damage.

Some of the wasps and lizards are the natural enemies of honey bees. These pests enter the beehive and destroy the honey bee colonies. So, one should be watchful frequently to safeguard our friendly insects.

Pesticides are harmful

Highly sensitive honey bees acting as the farmers friends but if we fail to understand this and spray pesticides to eradicate harmful insects honey bees get eradicated first. The poisonous chemicals have no demarcation between beneficial and harmful insects. They kill everything depending on the potential of the active ingredient. The pesticides are classified as environmentally safe if they do not harm the honeybees and other life, but just avoid the pest infestation. So a honeybee friendly farmer should buy safe ones.

Honey bees are highly vulnerable and will not tolerate many pesticides. Spraying of strong and unsafe pesticides on your crops causes the death of the honey bees. It may be because the honey bees getting the pesticides to spray or they may come in contact with the flowers which are sprayed with pesticides. Even spraying with some of the antifeedants like neem oil will prevent the honey bees from the flowers and decrease honey yield.

Catching honey bees from the habitat

The partitioned colonies fly away and go in search of the possible location for forming the beehive.

Easiest ways of catching the honey bee colonies are to keep empty and fresh beehives near the blossoming trees with nectar. The worker honey bees which are coming in search of the nectar find empty beehives and bring their colony for inhabiting in that. In the same manner, the partition colonies also come for inhabitation.

Catching the honey bees from the holes is a special art. Those who have skilled in the art will be able to collect the honey bees and put it in the beehives easily with just a piece of cloth. Some of the colonies are very peaceful and do not get outrageous. There are some other colonies, which will easily get outrageous and sting at just small disturbance. To tackle such stinging cases, only face masks and full protective suiting with gloves are very helpful.

After the housing of the colony, the gates are placed so that the queen honey bee will not escape and the colony will be conserved.

Things to monitor

  • Periodical inspection and cleaning of the beehive is essential to protect the honey bees from getting affected by diseases.
  • General hygiene will also help the beehive breed quickly and produce a lot of honey.
  • The enormous number of drone bees emerging warrant culling of drone bees, which will help to keep the colony undivided. Otherwise increase in drones will result in quick partitioning of the colonies and honey collection will be drastically diminished.
  • In case there is a lack of honey in the beehive and during the rainy season or in severe drought conditions, some sugar syrup feed can help make the honey bees survive the unwanted climates.

Future is sweet

Honey bees teach human great lessons for life. Even though having a very short lifespan of around a hundred days, they produce a lot of reserve honey and keep it for the stock, for the future period during which the next generation may get benefited. Selfless services of the previous generation provide the main benefit of resources to the upcoming generations of honeybees and also persons employed in apiculture.

However, from the age-old learning, it is honey bees which are synonyms of group working habit and producing reserve of the treasure of honey are becoming basic lessons for entrepreneurial principles. In many of the countries, there is a lot of encouragement for apiculture. Incentives are provided for large scale apiculture and related small scale industries will benefit in natural food, natural medicine and valuable crops. In rural areas, it is a promising enterprise with employment and profits.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Halemane Muralikrishna

Comments

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on April 22, 2020:

Thank you, Mr Vikram, for spending time on my article. One of the biggest threats to honeybees is the recent pesticides. If it is sprayed somewhere in neighbours plot, our entire colony will get eradicated. It is nice to know that you are aware of honeybee maintenance. I too was doing it, but now no colonies.

Vikram Brahma from Assam, India on April 21, 2020:

Hey Mr. Murali, very nice and in-depth article. There was a time when I was involved in this beekeeping activity but only for a short period of time. During this exercise, I came to know natural honey is such a product which don't become bad even after many years. I also did few times honey extraction activity in my own home a few years back.

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on April 11, 2020:

Thank you Ms Swati for reading and liking my article. Having natural honey has many benefits

Swati Khandelwal from Nainital on April 11, 2020:

Simply wow, i have been using honey in many things but honestly, i was unware of the information..thnk u sir for providing such a valuable information

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on January 13, 2020:

Thank you Mr Jnanesh first for reading my article and then for liking and commenting on it. Wild bees are dangerous as compared to normal ones. Never go play with them as it is very dangerous. But honey from wild bees are as delicious as the sweetest honey you might have tasted in life!

Jnanesh Sharma H from South India on January 13, 2020:

Wow, a very long formatted article which explains all about the bees. Never knew that bees are divided into these groups like the wild bee, stingless bee, normal bees, etc. all I knew about it was it was an insect that bites us and I used to think that all honey bees give honey. I never felt minutes passing and read your article for half an hour. Now its time to say 'Goodbye'.

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on January 03, 2020:

Thank you Ms Suchismita and Mr Prateek.

Prateek Jain from Madhya Pradesh, India on January 03, 2020:

This is a very informative article sir. As it covers a great number of aspects of Apiculture. Earlier I wasn't aware of all the benefits which honey bee holds.

Suchismita Pradhan from India on January 03, 2020:

Very informative piece.There are many things we can learn from honeybees like working together for a common cause.I use honey in many ways from applying it to my face to adding it in lemonade.I love honey as its benefits are many.Thanks for sharing.

Naveen Krishna on January 02, 2020:

There are lot of things learn from honey bee ... I thing this honey bee is one of the wonder in this world

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on January 02, 2020:

Thank you, Ms Shruthi Sharma, for spending time on my article and offering your inputs. It is nice to know something called honeybee milk. I think you can write an article on that on HubPages for the readers.

Then, one or two bee sting in a year is said to be beneficial in keeping away the stroke. I am collecting detailed literature on that. Your comments were very useful, thank you.

Shruthi Sharma M from Bangalore on January 02, 2020:

This is a very informative write-up that covers a great number of aspects of Apiculture. Never imagined the way pesticides affect honey bees.

In my recent visits to Vietnam, I could see that they prepare a skincare product called "Royal Gel" using the milk of honey bee, which can be consumed orally and even applied on the skin!

Halemane Muralikrishna (author) from South India on January 01, 2020:

Thank you, Ms Hema Mala and Mr Nitin, for your appreciations. In this year let us find out more and more natural ways to have a healthy life and also protect our environment for happiness and the benefit of future generations.

Hemamala B from Karnataka, South India on January 01, 2020:

Wonderful article.. Very 'sweet' way to begin the new year too. I enjoyed reading your article , which is very informative .

Nitin Khaire from Mumbai on December 31, 2019:

Wow. A highly informative and practical article on honey and honey bees. I love honey and so I read this article with great interest. The commercial benefits of bee keeping were interesting.

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