- Knowledge and training on bee keeping
- Knowledge on local bee flora
- Sufficient local bee flora
- Knowledge of migratory bee keeping
- The site should be dry without dampness. High RH will affect bee flight and ripening of nectar.
- Water: Natural or artificial source of water should be provided.
- Wind breaks: Trees serve as wind belts in cool areas.
- Shade: Hives can be kept under shade of trees. Artificial structures can also be constructed to provide shade.
- Bee pasturage and florage: Plants that yield pollen and nectar to bees are called bee pasturage and florage. Such plants should be plenty around the apiary site.
1. Hive inspection: Open the hive at least twice a week and inspect for following details. Hive record also is to be maintained for each hive.
Presence of queen
Presence of eggs and brood.
Honey and pollen storage
Presence of bee enemies like wax moth, mite, disease
During honey flow season there is considerable increase in the foraging activity of the workers and in the rate of egg laying by the queen. Necessary additional space has to be provided for all these and this is done through supply of new, clean, yellow combs or comb foundation sheets.
In the case of weak stocks, the population can be increased, taking advantage of the favourable environmental conditions, by giving brood combs from strong colonies or by simply changing its position to that of a strong colony in a bright morning when the bees are busy. The bees of the strong colony after their foraging trip return to the weak hive now located in the site of their original home and thus the weak colony becomes strong. This should be done in a prosperous season and at a time when bees are busy.
The strength of colonies gets denoted as a result of Swarming. Swarming can be prevented by clipping off special queen brood cells as they are constructed, since a colony does not send out a swarm unless a new queen is ready to take the place of the reigning queen.
Bees do not visit each and every flower. They visit only flowers having ample pollen and nectar (non-toxic to them) and it should be within their reach. Therefore, the bee flora of a particular region is most important for the bee industry. Whenever there is a dearth of nectar and pollen in nature and the stock of these materials is not in the hive, then artificial feeding becomes imperative. The dearth periods vary from region to region in this country. If the bees are not fed artificially during dearth period, they start starving and dwindling, develop wander lust and ultimately abscond. White sugar syrup is a cheap substitute of honey but no pollen substitutes have been tried in this country although different pollen substitutes have been found useful elsewhere. Attempts to replace sugar syrup by cheap cane jaggery to the colonies resulted in the absconding of bee colonies because in most of the cases they did not accept it and suffered from starvation; in some cases if they accepted it they suffered from dysentery.
A source of fresh water within a short distance of an apiary is essential. Water is required to blend with the food and to lower the temperature of the hives during hot weather. Water can be supplied in a tank or an earthen pot set up so as to permit the water to drip. The water can be given in a glass bottle inside the hive also.
The question of uniting stock of bees arises only when the colony becomes weak or queen less and all attempts of requeening fail. It is then necessary that weak colonies should be united. As each colony has its own peculiar odour, it is necessary either to blend the odours of the two colonies slowly or suppress both by a stronger one. If this is not done the bees of the two colonies fight. The colonies to be united should be brought near each other by moving them closer, 0.5 to 1.0 m each day, so that incoming bees may not drift back to old site when the colonies are sufficiently close. Two other methods described below can also be used for uniting the colonies.
- Remove queen from week colony
- Keep a newspaper on top of brood chamber of queen known as right colony
- Make holes on the paper
- Keep queen less colony on top of right colony.
- Close hive entrance so that the smell of bees get mixed in both the colony
- Unite bees to the brood chamber and make it one colony.
The queen is the most important and indispensable individual in the bee colony, and should be handled properly and carefully.
The presence of an active queen in the colony can be judged by the presence of worker eggs. If, however, it is essential to spot her or to catch her, then she must be searched properly. In a strong colony sometimes it may be difficult to spot the queen at the first look.
Of several methods of introducing the queen, some are direct and others indirect. For safe introduction, first it should be made sure that the colony into which it is to be introduced is really queen less and further that no queen cell is present in the brood combs. The queen should be put into a queen-introducing cage, with the exit plugged with queen candy, and then placed in the centre of the brood nest. The queen can be kept in a small specimen tube, the mouth of which is closed with a muslin cloth having a small hole to permit it to escape eventually.
It is very important for beekeeper to increase his bee colony every year and this can be done by dividing the existing colonies into 2 or 3 sub-colonies with fresh queens.
This season coincides with spring. During this season,
- Provide more space for honey storage by giving comb foundation sheet or built combs
- Confine queen to brood chamber using queen excluder
- Prevent swarming as explained in swarm management
- Prior to honey flow, provide sugar syrup and build sufficient population
- Divide strong colonies into 2-3 new colonies, if colony muitiplication is needed
- Queen rearing technique may be followed to produce new queens for new colonies
Bees have to survive intense heat and dearth period by following means.
- Provide sufficient shade, under trees or artificial structure
- Increase RH and reduce heat by Sprinkling water twice a day on gunny bag or rice straw put on hive
- Increase ventilation by introducing a splinter between brood and super chamber
- Provide sugar syrup, pollen supplement, substitute and water
It includes the following
- Maintain strong and disease free colonies
- Provide new queen to the hives
- Provide winter packing in cooler areas hilly regions
- Remove empty combs and store in air tight container.
- Use dummy division board to confine bees to small area
- Unite weak colonies
- Provide sugar syrup, pollen supplement and substitute
- Avoid dampness in apiary site. Provide proper drainage
- In rain when bees are confined to the hive, provide sugar syrup feeding
Plants that yield pollen and nectar are collectively called bee pasturage or bee forage. Plants which are good source of nectar are tamarind, moringa, neem, Prosopis juliflora, Soapnut tree, Glyricidia maculata, eucalyptus, Tribulus terrestris and pungam. Plants which are good source of pollen are sorghum, sweet potato, maize, tobacco, millets like cumbu, tenai, varagu, ragi, coconut, roses, castor, pomegranate and date palm. Plants which are good source of both pollen and nectar are banana, peach, citrus, guava, apple, Sunflower, berries, safflower, pear, mango and plum.
- Honey Bee Biology
- Races of Honey Bees
- Preparing to Keep Bees
- Beekeeping Equipment
- How to Light a Smoker
- Buying and Moving Colonies
- Installing Packaged Bees
- Catching Swarms
- Honey Bee Management
- A Synopsis of Bee Management in Georgia
- Processing Honey
- Pollination Background
- The Flower and the Fruit
- Managing Honey Bees for Pollination
- Other Pollinating Bees
- Establishing a Bee Pasture
- Crop Pollination Requirements
- Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides
- Table of Insecticides and Miticides
- Sample Beekeeper / Grower Contract
- Plants for Year-round Bee Forage
- Africanized Honey Bees
- Bee Conservation in the Southeast
- Bee Friendly Landscaping
- GA Dept of Agriculture - Honey Bees
- Georgia Honey House Regulations
- Honey Bee Swarms and Bees in Walls
- On Einstein, Bees, and Survival of the Human Race
- Resource posters, courtesy of Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota
Honey Bee Disorders
- Bacterial Diseases
- Fungal Diseases
- Viral Diseases
- Honey Bee Parasites
- Small Hive Beetle
- Non-infectious Diseases and Pests