Beekeeping is the art and science of rearing bees. It is widely known as apiculture. The bees are bred commercially in Apiaries which is an area where a large number of beehives can be placed. Here, the bees are taken care of and managed to produce wax, honey and other by products like propolis, royal jelly and bee venom. It is essential or incorporating it in farming is essential due to factors like generating employment, boosting the economy, quality production, its contribution to the medical world, and climate recovery.
Why are bees the best pollinators?
Bees comprise an estimated 25,000-30,000 species worldwide, all obligate flower visitors. Bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their growing offspring and the body type of bees are specially modified to pick up pollen grains, they can work for long hours, show flower constancy and are adapted to different climates.
The hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes/pockets on their legs or body, and then carry it back to their nest. Many plants require cross pollination in order to produce viable seeds for which bees are a perfect match since individual bees tend to focus on one flower at a time which means pollen of one flower will be transferred to another flower of the same species.
Honeybee pollination has been reported to increase seed production in oilseed, rapeseed, and sunflower seed, as well as the oil content in the seed and beekeeping activity provides benefits in terms of employment, pollination of crops, and conservation of biodiversity.
Number of crops depend on a small number of managed pollinators and the most efficiently manageable pollinators are honey bees that a farmer can buy or have access to for pollination in crops.
Agriculture relies on bees to pollinate 70% of the most valuable crops that are used directly for human consumption. It is estimated that about one third of all plants or plant products eaten by humans are directly or indirectly dependent on bee pollination. The decline in natural pollinators increases the scope of beekeeping as it contributes to the pollination services, assuring crop yields and can strengthen livelihoods through commercialisation to increase economic revenue.
Effectiveness of honey bees make them the best choice for pollination as they not only pollinate flowers, but also fruit plants. Their great number and social life with an ability to pollinate a broad variety of different flowers and fruit plants marks their great value in the field of agriculture.
The commercial value of bees have made it an easy access for anyone who wants to venture into Beekeeping. However, the role of bees in pollination is more vital than acknowledged. A well pollinated crop has superior quality of shape, well filled seed pods, an uniform seed set and tight cluster of fruits or seeds, and a major production of crops depends on bee pollination.
The practice of rearing bees is quite easy once one learns the important measures while beekeeping. One has to understand the technicalities of the method to achieve the desired goal. Once the potential apiarist is well accuantained with the process, the profits of commercial beekeeping are not undesirable; whether in agriculture, medical or generating livelihoods.
Farmer’s need for Beekeeping
With the rapid decline in the number of pollinators due to factors habitat loss, climate change, toxic pesticides and disease, beekeeping is a solution in the field of agriculture. Lack of bees for pollination can mean a loss for the farmers of upto 75% as the unpredictability of the weather and climate determines the rate of pollination (spring to summer being ideal for bees to pollinate).
The whole pollination work in some years has to be done in a few days where thousands of worker bees are needed to do the job. In the failure of the farmer with exposing the fields with honey bees or other bees for pollination, an entire harvest can fail and such a loss is cathartic to endure. As we are all aware of the current living conditions of farmers in context of socio-economic stability, Apiculture is only a strategically wise implication in horticulture. The amalgamation of both methods have major profits only.