Honey Bee Farming

(Maryam Javed, Bahawal Pur)

For thousands of years it has been known that obtaining a honey crop is made much easier and more convenient than honey hunting if bees are encouraged to nest inside a man-made hive. The hive makes ownership of the colony very clear, it can be kept near to home, and harvesting the honey is easier. Depending on the type of hive, and the species and race of bees, it is also possible to manage the colony.

The Bee

There are many types of bee species and most do not live in colonies. The Apis mellifera is one of the honey producing bees and has been introduced in most regions of the world. In tropical regions there are also bees, such as Trigona and Melipona that are stingless.

Hives A hive is just a container to keep bees inside, and good, serviceable hives can be made from many different materials. The purpose of a hive is to encourage the bees to build their nests in such a way that it is easy to manage and maintain them.


Collection of Nectar

Nectar is the main source of carbohydrates in the natural diet of honey bees. Sugar concentration in nectar can vary widely, from 5% to 75%, although most nectar is in the range of 25% to 40%. A honey bee uses her proboscis to suck up nectar from flowers and stores the liquid in her honey crop. The crop is a specialized part of the digestive system, and has a structure between it and the midgut, where digestion takes place. This structure, the proventriculus, can let some nectar in when the forager needs energy on its way home, remove pollen inside the nectar, and serve as a one way valve to prevent backflow from the midgut. This ensures that no contamination of nectar or honey can take place. The honey crop is also the site of synthesis of ethyl-oleate, a pheromone from foragers that tells young bees that they do not need to develop into foragers. The average weight of the nectar inside the crop is 25.5+15 mg, quite a feat considering that an average worker bee weighs 120 mg.

Conversion of Nectar into Honey

Foragers add enzymes (invertase, glucose oxidase) to nectar during foraging, so some digestion is already occurring before nectar is brought back to the hive.Invertase converts sucrose into two six-carbon sugars, glucose and fructose. A small amount of the glucose is attacked by the second enzyme, glucose oxidase, and gets converted into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Gluconic acid makes honey acidic, and hydrogen peroxide has germ-killing properties, both contributing to honey’s unfriendly disposition to bacteria, mold, and fungi.

Foragers then pass the nectar to special “receiver” bees, which are middle aged bees that have finished nursing, but have not started foraging yet. Receiver bees deposit nectar into cells and dry the nectar either on their mouthparts, by forming a large drop between the proboscis and the mandibles, or by fanning over the cells. The moisture has to be reduced to 17%-18% before bees.


Management Like many other agricultural enterprises bees follow a seasonal cycle.The colony cycle can be subdivided into three periods: build-up, honey flow and dearth. In temperate regions it is far easier to understand the cycles as they are well defined, with only one for each period of the year,while in the tropics and sub-tropics periods are variable and more than one of each can occur in a yearly colony cycle.

1. Build-up period:

Keep the colony in a small space when it is still small, for instance, in a small hive or big hive with divider board.Enlarge the hive when the colony grows by removing the divider board, by hanging the combs in a bigger hive or by adding a chamber.Ensure there are enough small hives to bait swarms. Put late swarms and smaller colonies together.Prevent absconding occurring later in the dearth season by keeping bigger colonies i.e.; by merging them.

2. Honey flow period:

• Do not harvest honey from small colonies. Harvest when there is enough space in the hive. Top-bar hives are hanged the combs in a harvest hive, if possible also do this with traditional hives. Do this so that damage to the combs is kept to the minimum and then extract the honey. Movable frame hive remove an entire honey frame, using a bee outlet if necessary.
• Do not harvest honeycombs from the lowest brood chamber. These are for the colony.Harvest in moderation so that there is enough honey left over for the bee colony and to limit absconding.

3. Dearth period:

 • Prevent absconding by removing empty combs. • Limit the space by using a divider board, hanging the combs in a smaller hive or reverting to fewer chambers. Provide a supply of water inside or close to the hive. • Open the hives as little as possible and Cover the top of the hive well to avoid heat loss.


Honey is harvested at the end of a flowering season. The small scale farmer selects the combs that contain ripe honey, covered with a fine layer of white beeswax. These combs are usually the outer-most ones. As far as possible, combs containing any pollen or developing bees need to be left undisturbed.The honeycomb can be simply cut into pieces and sold as fresh, cut comb honey. Alternatively, the honeycomb can be broken up and strained through muslin or another form of filter to separate the honey from the beeswax. After honey is separated from the beeswax combs, the beeswax can be melted gently (over water) into a block. Beeswax does not deteriorate with age and the scarps of beeswax can be saved until there are sufficient amounts to sell. Honey is obtained from frame hives by spinning the frames in a centrifugal extractor. The empty honeycombs are then returned to the hive. Because the combs are recycled, bees put effort into honey production rather than beeswax comb production.Choice of harvesting and processing equipment depends upon the quantities to be processed, and the type of product required. In some areas, traditional beekeeping is practiced on a large-scale and may well the provision of relatively expensive, large scale honey processing equipment capable of dealing effectively with honey in bulk for export.


Bee keeping and its products require on farm processing prior to being sold.Primary processing is cutting honey comb, extracting honey and filtering. This is a first step in setting up a processing enterprise on farm. Moreover value is addedto processing methods for bee products, referred to as secondary processing. This can produce such value added products as honey sweets, honey soap and so forth.Processing is not only important for higher incomes, but also for food security and availability .Equipment is required manual honey extractor. The creations of honey collection centers are better for processing honey. As value is added to bee products, but quality control and quality maintenance are also required.


Marketing bee products that have been processed requires packaging. Typically in local areas small scale farmers use recycled bottles and jars. In such cases it is important that not only the packaging is clean and free from odors and consumers can see the bee product,the color of the honey, but it is also not excessively heavy.Plastic containers may be preferable. Importantly whatever the packaging it will have to protect the bee product, keep it clean, uphold the quality of the bee product and be able to withstand handling and transport to final destination.

Labeling is another aspect of packaging that is import.A label on a honey jar should provide information to consumers on such aspects as the type of honey, where the honey comes from,the name of who produced it and the date when it was packaged and the expiry date of when it needs to be consumed by.


Honey is a sweet liquid made by bees using the nectar from flowers. It contains about 70 to 80 percent sugar, which provides its sweetness.According to production honey is classified as:
1. OrganicHoney 2.Filtered Honey 3.Raw Honey 4.Dark vs. Light Honey

Varieties of Honey on Flower source:

The 300 types of flowers worldwide the bees have fed on. The most common varieties are clover, orange blossom and wildflower.


One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, 17.3 grams (g) of sugar, and 0 g of fiber, fat, and protein.Choosing honey over refined and processed sugar may lead to long-term health benefits. Honey is known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and soothing effects.

• It is made up of glucose, fructose, and minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium, and magnesium.

• The slightly acidic pH level of honey is what helps prevent the growth of bacteria, while its antioxidant elements clean up free radicals that are linked to diseases.The physical properties of honey vary depending on the specific flora used in its production, as well as its water content.


Modern science is finding evidence for many of the historical uses of honey.

1) Healing wounds and burns 2) Reducing the duration of diarrhea 3) Preventing acid reflux 4) Fighting infections 5) Relieving cold and cough symptom 6) Improves Sleep7) Natural Energy Booster8) Treats Cough 9)Replacing added sugar in the diet 10) Honey for Immunity booster 11) Prevents Heart Diseases 12) Honey for Weight Loss 13) Honey for Fabulous Skin 14) Honey Also Helps Improve Cholesterol

Medicinal use:

Honey has been used to treat a wide array of illnesses, ailments, and injuries. It can be mixed with other remedies and consumed or rubbed onto the skin. Practitioners of Ayurveda medicine have attempted to use honey as a remedy for the following:
• stress, weakness, sleep disturbance, vision problems, bad breath, teething pain, in children over a year old
• cough and asthma, hiccups, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery and vomiting
• bedwetting and frequent urination, high blood pressure, obesity, jaundice
• hangover relief, eczema and dermatitis, burns, cuts, and wounds, arthritis

While not all uses of honey are confirmed as effective, trying it as treatment will not make conditions any worse or cause harm. Honey is sometimes touted as a cosmetic solution for cracked, dry.

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04 Sep, 2020 Views: 543


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