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Methods of Bee Keeping

Methods of Bee Keeping

Beekeeping is the maintenance of bee colonies, and a method used to obtain more and more pure form of honey. The old method commonly used by old apiculturists is very crude, cruel and of unplanned type. This old method is called as Indigenous method.

Indigenous Method

  • Hive- Two types of hives are used in indigenous method of bee keeping that is; wall or fixed hive and movable hive.
    1. Wall or fixed type- This contains a purely natural type of comb because the bees themselves prepare the hive at any place on the wall or trees. There is an opening on one side through which bees come out of the hive.
    2. Movable hive- It consists of hollow wood logs, empty boxes and earthen pots etc. placed in verandas of houses. There are two holes in the hive, one for entrance and other for exit of the bees. The swarmed bees usually come to the box on their own choice. Some bee keepers use to take the clusters of the swarms from a tree and keep them in the hive.
  • Extraction of Honey- For extraction of honey, burning fire is brought near the bee hive at the night as a result of which bees are either killed or they escape off. Then the hive full of honey is being removed, cut into pieces and squeezed to get honey. Sometimes smoke is released near the hive so that bees may escape from their hives.

Drawbacks of Indigenous method

Indigenous method of bee keeping has numerous drawbacks:

  • Honey extracted is impure because at the time of squeezing, the brood cells, pollen cells, honey cells and larvae are also extracted.
  • The colony becomes weak due to killing of the eggs and larvae at the time of extraction.
  • Formation of new hive by the escaped bees requires extra energy which affects the yields.
  • The activities of the bees cannot be controlled.
  • Bees may not hivate in the same hive; it is only a matter of chance.
  • The race improvement programme may not be applied, so there is no possibility for the selection of the best bee.
  • The hazards created by climatic factors cannot be controlled.

Modern Methods of Apiculture

Modern methods were developed to overcome the drawbacks of indigenous methods using scientific facts. In this method, first of all work is done to improve the texture of the hives and during this race hive patterns were introduced in India.

The Newton Model with 7 to 10 frames (21 x 14.5 cm) in the brood chamber with a shallow super (21 x 6.5 cm sized frames) has been most popular in the south, east and central India.

Longstroth hive containing 10 frames (44.8 x 23 cm) has been used as a standard hive in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

Hive used in Uttar Pradesh contained 8 frames (30 x 20.4 cm) which was evolved at Jeolikote apiary.

Standards were made after gaining experience from the above mentioned hives. Indian Standard Institute has standardized the hives of small size accommodating frames of 21 x 14.5 cm and big size accommodating frames of 31 x 20.4 cm.

Now a days, movable hive is constructed which is capable of expansion or contraction according to the requirement of the place, season and climatic conditions.

Appliances for Modern Method

The common appliances for modern methods of bee keeping include:

  1. Typical movable hive
  2. Queen excluder
  3. Honey extractor
  4. Uncapping knife
  5. Other equipments

Typical movable hive-

It is an artificial movable hive which made by wooden box based on bee space theory. The size and number of frames are variable from hive to hive according to the need. A small space is enough to permit the entrance and exit of workers and drones but queen once placed in hive never comes outside the hive. The perforation is made on zinc sheet which is of the size 0.375 cm but the thorax of the queen is 0.43 cm to 0.45 cm, hence the queen can never pass through this pore. This typical movable hive contains 6 parts which are:

  1. Stand- It is the basal part of the hive on which the whole hive is constructed. The stands are adjusted to make slope for the hive. This slope helps the rain water to fall down quickly.
  2. Bottom board- It is present above the stand and forms the proper base for the hive having two gates in the front position. One gate is for entrance and the other is for exit purpose.
  3. Brood chamber- The bottom board carries the brood chamber which is the most important part of the bee hive. It is of large size made up of 5 to 10 frames. Each frame contains a wax sheet bearing hexagonal frames which are held up by a couple of wires in a vertical position. Along with the margin of every hexagonal mark, the bees start making wall and ultimately the cells. These wax sheets are known as comb foundation which attracts the bees and provides the base for the comb preparation on both the sides. The frames are kept vertically in brood chamber which is covered over by other frames having a wire meshing through which the worker bees can easily pass. The comb foundation helps in obtaining a regular strong worker brood cell comb which can be used repeatedly. The Central Bee Research Station, Pune arranged the manufacturing of a comb foundation mill which manufactures different sizes of cells required in several regions of the country. The brood chamber is covered by another chamber known as super.
  4. Super- It is without cover and the base. Super is provided with many frames containing comb foundation to provide additional space for expansion of the hive.
  5. Inner cover- It is a wooden piece used for the covering of the super. Many holes are present for providing proper ventilation.
  6. Top cover- Its purpose is to protect the colony from rains. A plain and sloping zinc sheet is fitted in the top cover.

Queen excluder-

It consists of wire-gauze, entrance guards and drone traps with individual wires placed 0.375 cm apart. It permits the worker bees to pass through it but keeps back the queen in the brood chamber.

Honey extractor-

It is used for the extraction of the honey from the comb and functions on the principle of centrifugal force. When combs are centrifuged by this device the pure honey is thrown out without any damage to the comb.

Uncapping Knife-

When all the combs are filled with honey, they are sealed by capping with the wax. So before placing the capped combs in the honey extractor, the wax sealing is removed with the help of uncapping knife heated by steam before use.

Other equipments- Some equipments like protective garments, gum cages, gloves, net veil, bee net, brush etc. are also required for easy and well planned handling of the bees.

Advantages of Modern Method

Modern method of bee keeping has several advantages which are as follows:

  • There can be a proper watch on the activities of bees.
  • A strong colony can be developed by providing sugar, syrup, pollen substances to honey bees.
  • Swarming of bees is checked by modern hive.
  • The same hive is used again and again so less energy is wasted in making the hive on part of bees and worker bees can pay more attention on the honey formation.
  • Hive can be transferred to other place under any adverse climatic conditions for the protection of the bees.
  • Comb can be protected from the enemies.
  • Pure honey can be obtained in large quantities.

Precautions of Bee Keeping

For the proper management of bee keeping, some precautions should be taken which are enlisted below:

  • The hive should not be kept more than half a mile away from the place from where the bees have to collect the nectar and the pollen.
  • The boxes must be kept at cool place under the shade.
  • Industry should be near the road for proper transport facility.
  • Fresh water reservoir should be near the hive.
  • Good flora for the collection of pollen and nectar should be there.

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