Introduction to Bees & Beekeeping

Beekeeping or Apiculture is the maintenance of honey bee colonies. These commonly are kept in man-made hives, by humans. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary. The aim of beekeeping is to collect honey and other products that the hive produces including beeswax, propolis, flower pollen and royal jelly. Beekeepers also produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. Honeys are classified in 2 major categories. The first category is of blossom honeys, which are made from nectar. The second category is type of honey which is available in market by the name Honeydew honey. This is the honey which is prepared by bees from sticky secretion that is produced by some scale insects, some moths, certain caterpillar species, a few types of butterflies, and aphids. These sticky secretions are called honeydew. Most plants that are attacked by these flies are trees, the coniferous trees yielding worldwide the highest amounts of honeydew. The most common honeydew honey come from fir, pine, oak, willow, white poplar, plum, beech, peach, metcalfa etc. These honeydew can be referred as forest honey, Pine honey, Fir honey etc. New Zealand’s premium export honey is New Zealand Beech Honeydew honey. Two species of beech tree inhabited by two species of honeydew insect from the Margarodidae family produce New Zealand’s largest single exported honey crop. The beech trees are Black Beech (Nothofagus solandri) and Red Beech (N. fusca). The two insects are Ultracoelostoma assimileand U. brittini. U. brittini tends to inhabit the trunks and larger branches, while U. assimileis recorded as favouring the upper branches and twigs, thus the very important purpose of beekeeping is to pollinate crops. Some plants are pollinated by animals, wind or water. Plant flowers have adapted to the different pollinators. When a bee collects nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens—the male reproductive organ of the flower—sticks to the hairs of her body. When she visits the next flower, some of this pollen is rubbed off onto the stigma, or tip of the pistil—the female reproductive organ of the flower. When this happens, fertilization is possible, and a fruit, carrying seeds, can develop.

Besides pollen, Nectar is also an important components required by bees for survival and it is gathered by bees from the flowers. Nectar provides an important energy source (carbohydrate) – it supplies a complex range of sugars, whilst pollen gives vital protein and fats. Although all bees need pollen at some stage in their lives, not all bees gather it.

Male bees (Drones) do not collect pollen, and have no pollen baskets with which to transport it from flowers to the nest or hive. Drones do not have stingers, pollen baskets on their legs, or glands for producing wax, and their mouthparts are too short to gather nectar. The nectar is produced by glands called nectaries. Nectaries can be located on any part of a plant, but the most familiar nectaries are those located in flowers (called “floral nectaries”).Depending on the species, a flower’s nectarines can be located on its petals, anthers, stamens, sepals, pistils, styles, ovaries or other parts of the flower. Nectars range in sweetness from as little as 8% to as high as 50%. Nectar stored within their stomachs is passed from one worker to the next until the water within it diminishes. At this point, the nectar becomes honey, which workers store in the cells of the honeycomb.


Lovish singla, Vinod Mahendru and Vikas Nanda
Deptt. of Food Engg. and Tech.
Sant Longowal Institute of Engg. and Tech.

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