Apiculture: Production of Honey and Beehive Products
Posted on : 20-11-2017 Posted by : Admin


Commercial production of honey is done by two methods, namely indigenous method and modern method. To obtain pure and more amount of honey modern methods of apiculture are in practiced.

1. Old or indigenous method

This is primitive and unplanned method of apiculture. In this method two types of hives are used,

  1. Natural fixed combs prepared by bees on the walls or the branches of trees
  2. Artificial or man-made movable hives. These hives are made from wooden logs or earthen pots etc.

In the indigenous method, the bees are first killed or made to escape from the hive with the help of smoke when the bees are at rest during night. This method has many drawbacks and it is not suitable for commercial large-scale production of honey. The following are the disadvantages of indigenous method:

  1. The honey cannot be extracted in the pure form. The extracted honey also contains the larvae, pupae and pollen cells.
  2. The future yield of the honey is affected as the colony has to be destroyed to extract the honey. Moreover it takes lot of energy of the bees to build new hive.
  3. The bees may not construct the new hive in the same place as the old one.
  4. The natural hives also have the danger of attack by the enemies like rats, monkeys, ants etc. The natural hives can also be damaged by the climatic factors.
  5. Also scientific intervention is difficult in the indigenous method and thus improving of the bee race is impossible.

Though the indigenous method has many drawbacks, it still persists.

2. Modern method

In the modern method of apiculture the honey bees are reared in movable artificial hives. This was designed and invented by Longstroth in 1951. This invention has turned apiculture into a cottage industry and has provided employment to lakhs of people.

The modern beehive is made up of a series of square boxes without tops or bottoms, set one above the other. These hives have a floor board and a bottom stand at the bottom and a crown board at the top. Inside these boxes, frames are vertically hung parallel to each other. The frames are filled with sheets of wax foundation on which the combs are built by the bees.

modern method of commercial production of honey, honey production-modern methods

The entrance of the hive can be reduced with the help of the entrance reducer. The queen is usually confined to the brood chamber. The boxes termed honey supers are used for storage of honey. The queen is prevented from going to honey supers by the queen excluder that allows only the workers to move.

The following are the steps included in apiculture or commercial production honey

Catching a swarm: Swarm is an old queen accompanied by huge population of workers flying to start a new hive. The swarm is generally collected with a straw basket called as skep with a lid.

Hiving a Swarm: It is the process in which the collected swarm is transferred to the hive to build up the colony and produce honey.

Initial feeding: After the hiving of the swarm, they are fed with sugar syrup. This feeding will help the bees to settle down to work in their new home.

Starting the work: After settling down in the new hive the bees start to work in their respective job roles in the new hive. The worker bees move about in the surrounding flora collecting nectar and pollen. Consequently the colony expands and starts the production.


The two main products from a bee hive are honey and wax which are valuable and marketable commodities.


Honey is the most important product of apiculture. It is a food material for bees and their larvae. The bee hive stores large quantities of honey to meet the demands in scarcity. Chemically, honey is a sticky water solution of sugar.

Composition of honey

  • Water: 13-20%
  • Fructose: 40-50%
  • Glucose: 2-3%
  • Minerals: Traces%
  • Vitamins: B1, B2, C (minute quantities)

However, composition of honey and its different flavours depend on the kinds of flowers from which the nectar is collected. Nectar is sucked from flowers and mixed with saliva. It is swallowed into a special region of the gut called honey stomach.

Nectar is a disaccharide (sucrose) it is hydrolysed by the salivary amylase to produce monosaccharides (fructose and glucose). Inside the hive the workers regurgitate the processed nectar. The honey thus produced is still very dilute.

After placing this honey onto the storage cells of the hive the bees “fan” with their wings to evaporate the excess water and bring the honey to its required concentration. Extraction of honey from the combs is done by the method of centrifugation.

honey, honey comb, products from bee hive, honey bee, commercial production of honey

Uses of Honey: Some uses of honey are as follows,

Honey is a nutritious food, rich in energy and vitamins. Our body readily absorb sugar, minerals, vitamins and other materials from honey.

  • It is used as a carrier in ayurvedic and unani medicines.
  • It acts as a laxative, antiseptic and sedative.
  • It prevents cold, cough and fever.
  • It is also used as a blood purifier.
  • It is also used in religious ceremonies.
  • It goes in the making of alcoholic drinks and beauty lotions.
  • Another important use is in scientific research for making bacterial cultures.
  • It is also utilised for making poison baits for certain insect pests.


Generally bees consume about 10-20 kg of honey to produce one kg of bee wax. Beeswax is secreted by the wax glands located on the underside of the last four abdominal segments of the worker bee. This wax is used by the bee in constructing bee combs in which the colony of the bees develops.

honey bee, bee wax, commercial production of honey, products of bee hive

Uses of beeswax: Some uses are as follows,

  • Making of traditional candles.
  • Making pharmaceutical preparations like ointments.
  • It is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics like face creams.
  • Carbon papers are also mad with the help of bee wax.
  • In laboratories it is used in microtomy work to prepare blood tissues.
  • Preparation of varnishes and paints
  • Water proofing and waxing of threads; and
  • Formation of comb foundation (wax foundation in apiaries).

  1. Discuss the process of production of honey through old method.

  2. Explain the commercial productin of honey with modern method.

  3. Mention the steps included in the commercial production of honey.

  4. What are the main products from an apiary?

  5. Write the uses and the composition of honey.

  6. List the uses of bee-wax.

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