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Zooming in on India

Size

3,287,263 km

Population

843.9 million

GNP

S610 per capita

Location

India lies to the north of the equator. It measures 3214 km north to south and 2933 km east to west, with altitudes ranging from sea level to 8581 m in the Himalayas. 

Main agriculture

Cashew, coconut, coffee, cotton, jute, maize, pulses, rice, sugarcane, tea, tobacco and wheat are just some of the important crops: many fruits and vegetables are grown. 

Honeybees

Apis cerana, Apis dorsata, Apis laboriosa and Apis florea are native bee species. The following sub-species of Apis cerana have so far been identified: Apis cerana cerana, Apis cerana himalaya and Apis cerana indica. Apis mellifera was introduced to the north in the mid 1960s and to southern India only recently. 

Beekeeping

Wooden boxes, hollowed-out logs, earthen pitchers and wall hives are traditional ways of keeping Apis cerana. Modern hives for Apis cerana are wooden movable-frame hives, called the ISI villager's hive. Apis mellifera is kept in Langstroth hives. Migratory beekeeping is practised in some parts, especially in the north. Beekeeping equipment is supplied by government departments and private dealers. 

Problems

Frequent swarming, absconding, robbing and decline in populations of Apis cerana. Mating and foraging competition between Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. Pesticide poisoning and invasion by pests and pathogens. 

Number of beekeepers

There are around one million colonies of Apis cerana and Apis mellifera being kept in traditional and modern hives, which are being maintained by about 250,000 beekeepers in 45,000 villages.

Melliferous vegetation

India enjoys tremendous ecological diversity. A variety of honey resources are present in different agro-climatic zones which can be categorised as agricultural crops, forest and avenue trees and shrubs, fruits and vegetables.

Honey production

Annual honey production is more than 18,500 tonnes. Apis cerana colonies yield 4-10 kg, whereas Apis mellifera produce 10-25 kg per colony.

Honeybee diseases, pests and predators

These include the parasitic mites Acarapis woodi and Tropilaelaps clareae, ants, bears, beetles, birds, predatory wasps (Vespa spp) and wax moths. Acarine, nosema, sacbrood and cluster virus are the most important diseases. Thai sacbrood virus which killed almost 80% of Apis cerana colonies in the early 1980s is still prevalent in some parts of the country. As a result of this the large scale multiplication of Apis mellifera is taking place, which is threatening the existence of Apis cerana.

Beekeeping Association

The All India Beekeepers Association, Pune. There are also regional associations and societies.

Research

Beekeeping research is being conducted by universities and institutes in Bangalore, Himachal Pradesh, Hisar, Kerala, Ludhiana, New Delhi, Palampur, Pune, Punjab, Simla, Solan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Training

The state departments of horticulture and agriculture look after the extension work of beekeeping and give training to farmers and young entrepreneurs. Beekeeping is becoming an important component of Integrated Rural Development Programmes.

Central Bee Research Institute, Khadi and Village Industries Commission. Training from beginner to post- graduate level. Overseas students are accepted. 

Projects

Many projects are underway in universities and institutes. major one is: All India Co-ordinated Project on Honeybee Research and Training, Haryana Agricultural University, Hisa.r

Locally organised development projects have been funded by: ActionAid; CARE-India; Oxfam, SIDA, YMCA, and others.

Journals

Indian Bee Journal, All India Beekeepers’ Association, 817 Sadashiv Peth, Pune 411 030. (In English. Quarterly).

Indian Honey, Indian Institute of Honey, Martandam, Kuzhithurai, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629 163. (In English, Malalyalam, Tamil. Quarterly).

Madhu Prapancha, D K Beekeepers’ Co-operative Society Ltd, No 386, Puttur 574 201. (In Kannada. Quarterly).

Patrika, Uttar Pradesh, Mannapal Sangh, PO Jeolikote, Mainital, Uttar Pradesh. (In Hindi. Irregular).

Publications

Mattu, V K  (1992) Scope and strategies for apicultural development in Himachal Pradesh. In Honeybees in mountain agriculture. New Delhi India; Oxford and !BH. 181-192. 

Mishra.R C; Sihag, (1987) Apicultural Research in India. Hisar, India; AICRP. 120 pp. Rawat, (1978) Beekeeping questions and answers. Ranikhet, India; Rawat Apiaries. 146 pp. in Hindi.

Rawat, (1981) Elementary beekeeping. Ranikhet, India; Rawat Apiaries. 63 pp. In Hindi.

Shah, F A (1983) Fundamentals of beekeeping. Shah Apiaries, India. 60 pp. 

Verma, L R(1991) Beekeeping in >. integrated mountain development. Edinburgh, UK; Edinburgh Aspect Publications. 367 pp.

We thank Dr V K Mattu of Himachal Pradesh University for much of the information for this item.