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INTRODUCTION

APIS CERANA INDICA, or the Asiatic honey bee, which is a small honey bee found in southern and southeastern Asia. This species is also known as the Himalayan hive honeybee. Apis cerana is still found in the wild, where it nests in tree holes, fallen logs, and crevices, but it is also one of the few bee species that can be domesticated.

Apis Cerana is found at altitudes from sea level up to 3,500 metres in areas with appropriate flora and climate. This bee species has adapted to adverse climatic conditions and can survive extreme fluctuations in temperature and long periods of rainfall. It is unique in its ability to survive temperatures as low as -0.1șC, a temperature lethal for other bee species . Worker bees do not re-use old wax as often as in other bee species and therefore their brood capping looks much lighter than those of Apis mellifera; they usually tear down old combs and build new wax constantly.

Farmers in the Himalayan region benefit directly from honey and other bee products from Apis cerana, which are a source of income, nutrition, and medicine. The bees are also important pollinators, ensuring the pollination of mountain crops, especially early flowering fruit and vegetables. It is available when temperatures are still too low for the exotic Apis mellifera species, and still flies under cool and cloudy conditions. As with other wild bees, Apis cerana also plays an important role in combating soil degradation by pollinating wild plants and ensuring that more biomass is available to be returned to the soil.

Beekeeping with Apis Cerana has become an important source of income for mountain farmers, especially the poor and marginalised, as it is easy to practise. There is no capital outlay as the bees do not need to be fed, fumigated, or migrated to warmer areas in winter, and are mostly kept in traditional log hives. They also produce high-quality honey and their wax is organic and natural. Honey production is lower than for Apis mellifera, but is being increased through a focused queen breeding and selection programme.

Workers do not re-use old wax as often as in other bee species and therefore their brood capping looks much lighter than those of Apis mellifera; they usually tear down old combs and build new wax constantly.


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