Beekeeping in India

Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by human.
Bees are accommodated in artificial hives where they live comfortably within easy reach of the bee keeper for examination and extraction of surplus honey, after keeping of sufficient in the combs for the bees.

Honey is aproduct of bees, which gather sugar containing nectars from flowers. Honeyshould be processed as soon as possible after removal from the hive.

Honey processing is a sticky operation, in which time andpatience are required to achieve the best results. Careful protection againstcontamination by ants and flying insects is needed at all stages of processing.Bee honey is natural, unrefined food consumed as much in fresh or canned state.It is readily assimilated and is more acceptable to the stomach, particularlyin the case of ailing persons, than cane sugar.

It is an antiseptic and is applied to wounds and burns withbeneficial results. Honey collection and its marketing in India are still notfully organised. The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread onbreads and as an addition to various beverages such as tea and as a sweetenerin commercial beverages. Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholicbeverages, which is also known as honey wine or honey bear. Honey is also usedin medicines.

A number of small scale industries depend upon bees and beeproducts. Honey and bees products finds use in several industries which areunder; Pharmaceuticals, meat packing, bees wax in industries, bee venom, royaljelly, bee nurseries, bee equipment’s and hives etc. There is considerable demandfor the honey and other products. Honey is largely used on a small scale aswell as at an industrial level.

History of Beekeeping in India, Present Status and Future:

After independence, India launched a massive programme ofrapid industrilization with the belief that the benefits would percolate downto the masses. Contrarily only elites got benefited and rural people continuedto be poor resulting into movement of the unemployed to the cities.

Although honey and honey bees are known to human beings sincetime immemorial still beekeeping is not a strictly traditional industry inIndia. Efforts were made to introduce Apis mellifera the European honeybees inIndia since 1880. For various reasons these experiments did not meet withsuccess. It was around 1910 that Rev. Father Newton designed a smaller hivesuitable for the Indian honeybee Apix cerana indica in Kanyakumari andsuccessfully maintained it in hives.

Mahatma Gandhi realised the importance of beekeeping industryand included it in his rural development programme. Several freedom lighterslike Smt. Rama Devi and Manmohan Chaudhary from Orissa, Shri Rajdan from Jammuand Kashmir did pioneering work in the establishment of modern beekeeping inIndia.

World Scenario in Beekeeping:

Beekeeping is practised over a greater area of the earthsurface than perhaps any other single branch of agriculture and on it dependsthe success of many other branches of agriculture. Honeybee originally belongsto the old world Europe, Africa and Asia and the bees spread to the new worldafter 1638 in America 1822 in Australia and 1842 to Newzealand.

The Pattern of Beekeeping Today:

In new world beekeeping is generally a means of livelihoodand average honey yield in most of the countries ranges from 10 to 20 kg/colonyand the average yield in best beekeeping district ranges from 100 kg to 150 kgor even 200 kg, contrary to this in the old world. The beekeeping is a hobbyand sideline beekeepers are much higher, each owning 5, 10 or upto 50 hives andgetting a harvest of 5kg to 20 kg/hive.

Race of Honeybees:

The most predominant species of hive honeybees in the worldis Apis mellifera whose races can be divided into three i.e.,

1. European races

2. Oriental races and.

3. African races.

Dark bees A. mellifera mellifera L:

They are spread throughout Europe north and west of Alps andCentral Russia. But in the last decade they lost ground almost everywhere andpresently are confines to Spain, France, Poland and Russia.

Italian bees A. mellifera Ligustica Spin:

Its original homeland is Italy (exclusive of Sicily) and issomewhat smaller than, A mellifera mellifera with slender abdomen.

Carniolans. A mellifera carnica (Pollmann):

With original homeland Austrian Alps, this bee is generallyquite similar to ligustica. Caucasian A. mellifera caucasica (Gorb)

Original homeland is Central Caucasus. In shape and size itresembles carnica. Besides these important races. Apis mellifera adansoni hasalso been much talked about these days. In addition to these races of Apis melliferawe have the Asiatic hive bee Apis cerana which closely resembles Apis melliferain its body structure. There are two other species of genus Apis in southernAsia which are entirely tropical.

Beekeeping in India:


The KVIC or (Khadi & Village Industries Commission) is astatutory body created by an Act of Parliament (No. 61 of 1956 and as amendedby Act No. 12 of 1987). It is charged with the planning promotion organisationand implementation of programme for the development of Khadi and other VillageIndustries in the rural areas.


Development of Beekeeping Equipments:

It is an important task and CBRTI has designed lots ofequipments:

(1) Bee hives ISI (A type B type and C type),

(2) Bee hives stand (folding type and fixed type)

(3) Honey extractor Tangential and radial type

(4) Comb foundation sheets

(5) Comb foundation mill

(6) Travelling bee box

(7) Wasp trap

(8) Lay out of honey house

(9) Lay out of honey processing plant

(10) Solar wax extractor.

The above mentioned equipments have already been standardisedby Bureau of Indian Standards (formerly ISI). The following approved, draftsawaiting standardisation are (1) Cylinderical bee packages (2) Honey extractortangential (3) Beeman’s kit.

Some of these techniques include:

(1) Management of apiaries year round

(2) Supplementary feeding in dearth period

(3) Swarm control

(4) Management for higher yields

(5) Apis mellifera management

(6) Migration both local and distant.

Introduction of exotic bees:

The exotic bee Apis mellifera was initially introduced inPunjab, Jammu & Kashmir on the individual level as well as by AgriculturalUniversity Ludhiana. After its successful introduction Apis mellifera bees waspopular and it was taken up in Punjab on commercial basis. The KVIC after dueexperiments in the States of Bihar, U.P., M.P. and Punjab approved introductionof A mellifera in nothern States and approved the pattern of assistance of Apismellifera under its scheme of beekeeping for the southern northern States.


Achievements include identification, extent of damage andmanagement of pests parasites and predators of bees including green bee, eaterwax moth, mites etc. The control of the mites was achieved employing advancedindigenously prepared strips impregnated with insecticides. The most importantwork includes isolation purification and identification of mandiculate glandpheromone of different bee species, different insecticides to bees were taken.

Bee Pathology:

This includes isolation, fungal identification, etiology andmanagement of different bacterial and viral diseases including EFB, TSBV etc.The hill variety of bees A.C. indica was found to be relatively tolerant to theTSBV which has played havoc on beekeeping industry.

Bee Botany and Melletopalyonology:

This department has collected and classified more than 3000plants species useful as bee plants. More than 300 species and plants have beengiven to forest/agricultural department. The polynarium with more than 4000slides of pollen types of India is unique which serves as a reference task tothe scientists from India and abroad.


3. Beekeeping business empowers women in northern India

4. Honey Beekeeping(Apiculture) in Indian Agriculture

india beekeeping agriculture farming agromanthan