Honey Beekeeping – Overview
India is home to contrasting climates, because of this, there is a massive variety of vegetation which helps in beekeeping. Honey bees are the most unique blessing of nature to mankind. Honey is the only insect that produces food that humans can consume. From ancient times, Indians are connected to beekeeping. In many regions in India, beekeeping is practiced as a full-time occupation and provides a stable source of income. There are few crops like almond, blueberries, apple, cherries, avocados, orange and a lot more will vanish if honey bees get wiped out as there will be no significant pollination.
The only unpleasant experience of bee-keeping is the bee sting. Honeybees are very defensive, they sting to defend their colony. In the initial stages of beekeeping, beekeepers are more susceptible to their bitterness. And after getting used to keeping bees, most beekeepers build up a capacity to bear honey bee venom after some time and have decreased affectability to pain and swelling. Honeybee science is extremely captivating and mesmerizing.
Beekeeping is not only done for honey extraction but also pollination and products such as beeswax, propolis, bee venom, etc.
Honeybee Species In India
In India there are five main Honeybee species :
1)Stingless Bees(Tetragonula iridipennis)
Stingless bees popularly known as dammer in India belong to the family Apidae and subfamily Meliponinae. Stingless honey bee can be characterized into two genera, the Melipona and the Trigona. These bees can’t sting and can be domesticated. The honey which they produce is high on nutrition value and has certain therapeutic properties as well. They produce as little as 100g of honey per colony per year.
2)European Bee/Italian Bee (Apis mellifera ligustica)
Italian bee called as Apis mellifera ligustica is one of the subspecies of A.mellifera. It was introduced from Europe and now they are farmed extensively in India and mostly present in northern India. Its introduction to India is applauded as it created a lot of employment opportunities. They produce 22–42 kg of honey per colony per year.
3)Indian Bee (Apis cerana indica)
Indian honeybee or Eastern honeybee is a notable bee species in India. Preceding the entry of Italian bee, this was the main rearable bee in India. These less aggressive and once in a while shift locations. Bee farming with these honeybees is more prevalent in the southern part of India. These bees produce 6–7 kg of honey per colony per year.
4) Little Bee (Apis florea)
Apis ﬂorea or dwarf honeybee is also a wild honeybee spp., these bees are less aggressive. These bees can camouﬂage in dense forests. On seeing a predator Apis ﬂorea makes a peculiar hissing sound. These bees produce around 500g of honey per colony per year.
5)Rock Bee (Apis dorsata)
Apis Dorsata is quite big and aggressive. In India, it is found in most of the parts. Honey produced by rock bee is usually priced high due to the danger involved. These bees produce approximately 45–82 kg of honey per colony per year.
Forms Of Honey And Its Uses
Honey comes in four forms 1) Raw Honey – It is the rawest form of honey which is neither filtered nor heated. 2) Pure Honey – It does not have additional ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, rice syrup, and artificial or natural flavor. 3) Natural honey – It does not contain added color, flavor, or synthetic substance. 4) Regular Honey – It is usually processed and may contain additives.
Honey is primarily used in the following industries :
- The food and beverage sector accounts for around 70% consumption of honey.
- Honey due to its antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties are used for medical purposes.
- As honey is naturally humectant, it is used in the personal care and cosmetics industry.
The Truth About Honey
There is a myth regarding honey that if it crystallizes or gets granulated, it is often considered as fake or adulterated. Widely, companies take its advantage and they sell processed honey which is often heated or mixed with some other ingredients. Rice syrup or corn syrup is commonly used by. Honey doesn’t get crystallized if it’s heated or mixed with other such substances. These added substances or quality deterioration due to overheating can be tested by higher tests like Carbon isotope testing, SMR, TMR, Oligosaccharides & NMR, etc. The only way to check the purity of honey is to get it chemically tested.
Indian Honey in Global Market
In today’s times, people are becoming more aware of healthy eating habits as this surely is one necessary step to keep diseases away. It acts as an alternative to the table sugar. Honey across all parts of the world is considered as one of the healthiest ingredients of our meals. As a result, the demand for good honey is growing globally. Medical use of honey is another reason to fuel its demand further in the global market, it is gaining importance in nutraceuticals. By 2024, analysts believe the honey market size will increase considerably. Indian honey demand is increasing in the international market. India’s exports of natural honey are growing by 19% year on year basis, the United States being the largest importer. Indian honey is gaining popularity in South Korea, Japan, and Australian markets as well. National bee board is actively working with bee farmers and making them aware of scientific methods of beekeeping. These efforts have doubled India’s honey production in recent years.
Fun Facts About Honeybee :
All worker bees are female.
Honey bees mate high in the sky. A short time later the male honey bee loses his reproductive organs and passes on.
Bees would prefer not to sting you because they die.
The typical honey bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in the course of its life.
Honey is 80% of different kinds of sugar and 17% water and 3% minerals, vitamins, & enzymes.
Honey bees keep up a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their nest whether or not the outside temperature is 110 or – 40 degrees