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View the documentBeekeeping


Raising bees for honey is called beekeeping or apiculture. With knowledge of bees, a little equipment, and practice, farm women can harvest honey and wax for home use and sale.
And, honey bees are important pollinators of field crops. which means better harvests.

Honey bee colonies

Honey bee colonies can be established easily in areas rich in flora. Places abundant in flowering plants can yield honey almost year-round.

Honey bee colonies

Honey bees are social insects and form three distinct castes in a colony. The queen bee mates with the drone once or more during its lifetime and continues to lay eggs until she dies. The drones are attended by worker bees during the breeding season. The worker bees maintain the colony, gather pollen, take care of the young, the queen bee, and the drones.


Beehives or nests are built downwards from ceilings or the lower surface of tree branches. Hives are comprised of thousands of six-sided cells made of wax and filled with honey.

Building a beehive

Bees can be encouraged to build their hives in special frame structures for easy care and harvesting. Several designs are available.



Beekeeping is a low-cost source of income for small and marginal farmers.

There are two main species of honey bees for domestication:

- Apis melifera Western honey bee
- Apis Indira Indian honey bee

Beekeeping tools

Smoker. Smoke makes bees docile and easier to handle.

Hive tool. This piece of flattened iron bent at one edge is used to carry frames, scrape combs, and pull out nails.

Bee veil. Cotton or plastic netting will protect your face from bee stings. You will also need thick, loose-fitting clothing, such as overalls, to protect yourself from stings.

Uncapping knife. A long, broad knife with a strong, shard blade is used to remove the wax that caps each honey cell.

Queen excluder. This is a perforated aluminum or zinc sheet through which the workers can pass but not the large queen.

Honey extractor. Combs full of honey are uncapped with the uncapping knife. The combs, one after the other, are then placed in a holder attached to a device which spins the combs at great speed. Honey is thrown out by centrifugal force into a collection bucket.

Embedder. This device is used to emboss the foundation plate. See the box on "Making a starter comb."

Honey extractor

Bee smoker

Hive tool

Bee management


Some cells in a honeycomb are brood cells where bees grow to maturity. The cells of worker bees are sealed with a bulging cap of wax. The cells of drones are sealed with a bulging cap of wax with a hole in the centre. A developing queen occupies the "royal cell" which is always located in the centre of the comb. Honey cells have flat, air-tight caps.

Making a starter comb

Bees build their combs on foundation combs prepared by the beekeeper. A smooth piece of wood is dipped in molten wax. A device called an embedder is used to stamp outlines of the six sided cells. The six-sided pieces of wax stamped out by the embezzler are removed to leave shallow impressions around which the bees will build their cells.

Beeswax Uses of beeswax:

- Candle-making
- Batik-making
- Ointment preparation
- Leather strengthening
- Waterproofing fabric honey extractor hive tool bee smoker

1 Place your beehives in a shaded area, on wooden benches 45 cm off the ground. Face hives in different directions. Do not place them in a straight line. This will help bees to find their hives.

2 Smear grease on the legs of the benches to prevent ant attack.

3 Start beekeeping in the spring.

4 Remove the queen cells when you notice overcrowding (when you notice bees crawling over one another), and distribute brood frames to make equal-sized colonies.

5 Feed the bees sugar syrup in summer when plant nectar is not available. Place a water dish outside the hive.

6 Add combs to avoid overcrowding.

7 Sprinkle water over the hives at least twice a day to reduce high temperatures during summer months.

8 Store strong and disease-free colonies during winter. Cover hives to protect them from extreme cold.

Talk to a beekeeper

Advice to beekeepers

- Literature on honey bees and their management can be obtained from expert beekeepers.

- Training courses and bee colonies can be obtained from state agriculture extension agencies, Khadigram Udyog Industries, and subject matter specialists of agricultural universities.

Hive frame covered with bees and filled with honey.

You will need help to establish your first hive. Seek advice from a local beekeeper.

Contributor: Dr. L. M. L. Mathur