General Information

The species is Apis mellifera. It is also known as Italian bee. It is native to India but imported from European countries. The species is less prone to absconding and swarming. They build parallel combs. It gives an average yield of 25-40kg/colony/year. 


By farming of these crops, it will help to attract bees to pollinate. As a result of this the population of bees will increase. 
•    Vegetable crops: Turnip, radish, cauliflower, carrot, onion, melon, pumpkin, cabbage and coriander.
•    Fruits and nuts: Peach, strawberry, litchi, citrus, apple, almond and apricot.
•    Oilseed crops: Safflower, mustard, niger, sunflower and rape seed.
•    Forage crops: Lucerne and clover. 
These crops increase the yield of bee pollination and as a result increase in honey bee farming. Following are the crops and the percentage of the yield increase.

Crop % yield increase
Mustard 44
Sunflower 32-45
Cotton 17-20
Lucerne 110
Onion 90
Apple 45

Care of the breed

Apiary site requirements:

Provide bee’s appropriate amount of natural and artificial water.

Shelter: Hives should be kept in natural or artificially made sheds. In winters, hives should be kept near trees or any other shelter to protect them from chilly winds.

Spring season (mid-February- mid-April) management:
This is also known as honey flow season. As the season came, unpack the honey bee colonies. At the starting of the season, check the colonies at noon time on clear sunny day. As the colonies will rise provide them adequate food and space. Provide adequate feed (mainly solution of sugar and soil in the ratio of 1:2) for good growth and development of colonies. The dense colonies will destroy the swarms. Divide the colonies in a way so that swarms get proper space for living. Combs older than 3 years and queen older than one and a half year should be removed. Spring season is best for the multiplication of colony, mass queen bee rearing, pollen collection and royal jelly production.

Summer season (mid-April – June): Provide them adequate amount of water and shade for the survival of bees. The bees have to survive from dearth rate (honey yield is minimum) in this season.

Monsoon season (July – mid-September): Ensure that there is no wetness in apiary site. It should have proper drainage system. Provide them feed of sugar syrup. If colonies are short of pollens, then give them pollen substitute (having mixture of 42gm brewer’s yeast + 4gm skinned milk powder kneaded with 50g of 50% aq. Sugar solution + 4gm parched gram flour) by adding 10% pollen substitute.
Autumn season (mid-September – November): Autumn season is known as the second best season for colonies multiplication. The colonies mainly migrate to pigeon pea, toria, guava and ber crops. At the end of November, bees give good honey yield. Take all the measures same as taken in spring season. At the end of monsoon, shift colonies slowly to the sunny places.

Winter season (December - mid-February): For brood rearing, shift colonies to Raya (sarson) growing and sunny areas. Check the weaker colonies, merge them with stronger ones. Give weak colonies supplementary feed of sugar: water@2:1w/w. place the hives in south east to protect them from chilly winds.



Diseases and Treatment

Wax moths: Wax moths are the enemies of the bees. They attack the live colonies of bees and stored combs. The larvae of the wax moths eat the combs. The symptoms are black faecal pellets on the abdomen.
Surplus combs are placed in chambers. Fumigation of chambers is done in air-tight conditions with burning Sulphur@250gm/m3 of chamber area. Treatment is done after every 15 days of interval.

Brood mite:
The pest is Tropilaelaps clareare. The symptoms are sunken or punctured brood cells, bees have malformed and twisted wings and the pupae is seen lying dead on the ground in the front of the hive.
Dust of powdered Sulphur@1gm/comb is done or formic acid (85%) @5ml/day is done at the interval of 14 days to treat the brood mites.

Varroa mite:
They are brown to dark brown in color and have shiny body mites. The symptoms are bald patches on brood cells, death of smaller bees is found in the front of hive and malformed wings or legs and shortened abdomen is seen on bees.
Treatment with formic acid (85%) @5ml/day is done continuously for 2 weeks. Alternatively, oxalic acid@5ml is used between every two combs of bees at the weekly interval for 3 weeks. Alternatively, dusting finely ground sugar@20gm/10bees is also done in the late evening to treat the Varroa mites.

These are brown color wasps having yellow spots on the body. They attach the bee colonies by catching bees in the post monsoon i.e. in July-November and monsoon season with the peak activity in the September month in the Punjab regions.

Use of plastic wasp traps or large nylon mesh or fixing queen guard in apiary will help to catch the wasps and not entering into the hives.

Black ants:
If ants attack is major then it will lead to death of whole colony of bees.

Firstly drenching with pesticides is done and then cover it with dry soil to destroy the ants nest.

Bee eating birds:
Green bee eater and king crow will destroy the colonies by catching the flying bees or queen bees. Green bee eater is more serious towards attacking as it attacks the whole flock in apiary.

Use of tinsel tapes, nets or birds scarer is done to scare away the birds.

Disease and their management:

European Foulbrood (EFB):
It is a bacterial disease which affects the larvae present in open cells. First they turn from dull white to yellowish white in color and then later on brownish yellow to brownish in color. The symptoms are soft and pasty larvae, body segmentation gets faint and ultimately death of larvae.

Shook swarm method along with the antibiotics is the promising method to get rid of EFB disease. Alternatively requeening and destruction of infected colonies are also used.

Sacbrood (SBV):
It is a viral disease which affects the prepual or very late larval stages. The symptoms are pointer and darker dead larva heads. The infected larva turns greyish in color and then to straw color and ultimately dark in color.