Beekeeping is one of the oldest businesses in India. The commercial production of honey requires beekeeping on a larger scale. A place where bees are kept is called the apiary. The rearing of honeybees to collect honey is called Apiculture.
This is a challenging business but a highly profitable one that earns 2-3 lakhs for 100 bee colonies. Depending on the type of bee that you are farming the annual income varies from INR 1,50,000 to 3 lakhs per division. It is an all-season business that needs very little investment, but you need a thorough understanding of the entire process to get the profits.
Honeybee farming in India
In India, beekeeping is a flourishing business in many states such as Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, some parts of Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, etc. It is suitable for all types of terrains. At the same time, bees prefer slightly warmer temperatures in the initial period. Because of this reason, bees are initiated in the spring to allow them a warm climate when they need it. It doesn’t require much maintenance and there is no need to feed them either. This ease and flexibility have attracted many into this business. Earlier farmers were reluctant to allow beekeeping near their fields but now they are also part of the huge beekeeping community and are reaping high profits.
Different honeybee species in India
Although there are more than 20000 species of honeybees in nature. Among them, only 7 specific species are used for beekeeping. The top 5 species used for commercial beekeeping are,
- Rock Bee: They are giant Himalayan subspecies mainly seen in mountain areas. They are hard to rear but produce up to 36 kg of honey per honeycomb annually.
- Italian bees are larger than other bees and make parallel combs. Each colony of these bees makes 25-40 kg of honey annually.
- Little Bee: They usually make their combs anywhere in the open on plants, trees, other structures, etc and can bring half a kg of honey per hive in a year. Their combs are vertical.
- Indian Hive Bee is a tamed species and is considered the local variety. They make parallel combs with an overall yield of 6-7 kg per colony, annually. These bees are bigger but not larger than the Italian variety.
- Dammar or Stingless Bee is smaller but is more important in the pollination of flowers. They are considered tamed varieties with a total yield of just 100 gms.
Both Indian bees and Italian bees are the most popularly used species. They are reared to get honey, beeswax, bee pollen, jelly, bee glue, bee venom etc.
How to do honey farming?
Choosing the bee species is the primary step in starting honey farming. There is a queen bee, worker bees, and drone bees that make up a bee colony. Once you choose the species, get a queen bee and other bees will follow. To set up the business you need to start by getting the necessary tools.
Types of equipment needed
- Hives: Man-made equipment where the bees are kept. It has a dimension of 19 7/8″ X 16 1/4″ X 9 5/8″ in length, width, and height.
- Frames are rectangular and work as a filing system to rest inside the hives. This is where the honeybees make their combs.
- Protective Clothing in the form of a body suit, veil to defend your head, gloves for hands, shoes, etc., are essential. You can easily get them online. Gloves are another important factor which should be made in strong material.
- Hive Tool is a multipurpose tool mainly used to examine the apiaries.
- Bee smoker to calm the bees when the hives are under examination.
- Queen Catcher helps you segregate the Queen bee from the colony.
- Feeders are used in unfavourable conditions when the blooming is delayed. Feeders will provide pollen, honey, and other substitutes to sustain the honeybees.
- Bee Brush is used to separate bees from the honey frames.
Where to buy honey bees from?
A bee farmer can purchase the bee colony which includes a queen and other workers from other local farmers. This way you can get extra tips on beekeeping as well. Another method is to catch the wild bees from the trees which can be an adventurous effort. The third method is to get a Nucleus Hive. It is nothing but a small portion of a larger bee colony which you can get from other local beekeepers.
Apart from getting the bees, setting up the equipment and collecting tools, you must undergo training sessions and be aware of the various rules and regulations as well. The Government of India allows you to get a loan for the initial investment in beekeeping business.
Note: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing herein shall be construed to be financial or legal advice. Pesticides are a considerable risk of loss in crops and viewers are advised to do their own research before making any decisions.