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ROLE OF BEE

Insect play a vital role in increasing crop productivity by way of pollination. The insects like coleopteran, Diptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera are very important pollinators of cultivated plants. Coleopterans are beetles which feed on petals as well as on pollen and nectar. But any mutual adaptation between pollinators and flowers has not developed. They may take one meal from a single flower or from many different flowers and thus are unreliable pollinators.

Diperan flies are important pollinators in Arctic regions where more specialized hymenopteran pollinators are absent. They are found feeding commonly on pollen/flowers like rose, potato, poppy, grapes, stone fruits, strawberry, cacti etc.. lepidopterans have long coiled proboscis and suck nectar from flowers with long corolla tubes. While sucking nectar, pollen sticks to proboscis and body is transferred to stigma of their flowers. Hawk moths are reliable pollinators of this order.

Colonies with freshly drawn out combs, with brood of all stages and plenty of young bees.

The most important order of the anthophiles is the Hymenoptera. The important families of Anthophoridae, Halicidae and Melittidae. The striging group include important pollinators such as ants wasps, hornets and bees. The flower visiting ant walk on foot and generally do not come into contact with anthers and stigma and at the most can accomplish self pollination. Vespoid wasps have long hairy bodies and are well adapted for pollination. Adults of spider wasps (Pompilidae) and digger wasps feed on both nectar and pollen. Sphecids are abundant visitors of carrot, cotton, sweet clover and sunflower.

About 80% of the world’s fruits, vegetables, seeds ad other agricultural crops depend on insect pollination. Among the insect pollinators, honey bees are of prime importance. Unlike the wild pollinators, whose number is limited in any area, the population of honeybees can be production through their efficient pollination service. Although importance of beekeeping has been recognized as one of the most environment friendly rural industry, its role in agricultural production has been surprisingly overlooked.

Many of our plants reproduce by means of flowers. A flower is composite structure of sepals, petals androecium and gynoeciym. The glands in the flower secrete nectar, called nectarines which are located at the base of the petals.

The deposition of pollen from another to the stigma of the flower is termed pollination and the union of the pollen with ovule is fertilization and the ovule later develops into seed. When a flower used its own pollen grains to pollinate its own stigma, it is called self pollination and if it is from another flower of the same plant or from different plant, it is termed as cross pollination. Cross pollination takes place with the help of insects, wind, water, and animals. Flowers of bisect pollinated crops usually provide pollen or nectar or both. Insects are attracted by these food substances and in collecting them they transfer pollen from one flower to another. In this way they bring about the cross pollination. Many of the Indian crops need cross pollination, Vegetables, Legumes, Fruit crops and other crops require pollination agents for fruit and seed set.

Now a days, the aspect of crop pollination with honey bees has been receiving some attention. Scientific and practical experience have proved that cross pollination of flowers of entomophilous crops by insects is the most effective and cheapest method of increasing yield. Besides, increasing the yield, bee pollination also improves the quality of seeds and fruits. The cost of planned pollination of plants by bees is annually recovered 15 to 20 times over through the value of additional crop yield. The income from agriculture in regions of intensive cultivation obtained after using bees in plant pollination is 14-15 times greater than the cost of honey and wax produced.

Simple and a very effective method of pollinating agricultural plants by bees are a planned introduction of large bee colonies into flowering crops. This method is commonly employed in most countries through out the world. A amore wide spread use of bees as pollinators would significantly increase the income.

However, of all insecta, the Apoidea are the most important and are highly adapted for anthopohily. Adults of all the species feed on nectar and pollen. Large number of species of Apoidea and wild bees may be solitary, gregarious or social. Social bees like Bombus sp. Live together in large numbers. Wild bees are valuable pollinators. The family Apidae consists of bumble bees, stingless bees and true honey bees.

There are four Apis species of honey bees, viz, Rockbee, Apis dorsata, the little bee, Apis florae, Asian honeybee, Apis mellifera. First three are native in India while A.mellifera was introduced from European countries.

Rock bees are seen all over India in the plain and in the hilly area up to 1600m above sea level. They are not domesticated. They are larger than other types of bees and dark brown in colour. They are nomadic in character, wild and ferocious. The comb may be suspended from rocks, ceilings of neglected and uninhabited houses, high hedges or branches of trees such as baniyan, peepal, mango, jamun, etc

The rock bees are food honey gatherers honey is stored in the top half portion of the comp. about 50-80 kg of honey per colony can be obtained. The hill strains are superior since they are more active and gather more honey. They are reported to forage during night also. This species is hard working and very efficient pollinator of crops in India.

Apis florae is found in plants of India to about 300m above the sea level. It is highly migratory in nature. Disturbances cause them to desert the comb, leaving behind honey, brood and pollen. They build single comb nest and the bomb is fixed to branches of bushes, hedges, trees, etc..in shaded places and the bomb is always covered by a curtain of bees. They have gentle temperament, but do sting when irritated. They are poor yielder of honey. Colonies can be sifted to crops at blooming time for pollination.

Indian honey bee, Apis cerana is found practically throughout India, there are many distinct strains present in different geographical regions, four ecotypes of this species were reported from Tamilnadu and Kerala. The bee lives in the cavities of tree trunk, hollows of rocks, poles and other covered places. It can be domesticated in all kinds of hollows and recesses. It can be domesticated in all kinds of hollows and recesses. It is a bee with gentle temperament and is easy to handle. This is a low honey yielder. On an average 5-10kg honey in plains but in hills they yield up to 15-25kg.

European bee, Apis mellifera is found all over Europe and has large number of well recognized strains and varieties. It is considered to be the best and has been introduced in almost in all countries of the world. This is similar in habits to Indian bees and builds parallel combs, with many desirable traits. It maintains a prolific queen, swarming is less, has gentle temperament, good honey gathering qualities. The average yield of honey recoded is in India 20-25kg.

The stingless bees are smallest of the honey yielding bees. The most common species seen in Tamilnadu and Kerala is Trigona iridipennis. They are not true honey bees. They make nest in ground, in hollow rocks, bamboo and cracks of walls. Nest cells are made of wax and plant resins. Honey and brood cells are found separate inside the nest. Their honey yield is low 300grm 1kg.

Honey bees are the most efficient pollinators of several cultivated and wild plants because of certain characteristics. Their body is specially adapted to pick up pollen grains. Hind legs in worker bees are modified for pollen collection. The tibia has double row of curved hairs, the space enclosed in between these is the corbicula or pollen basket. Hairy brushes in the tarsi of fore and middle legs collect pollen sticking to head and thorax respectively. They show flower fidelity and constancy. Honey bees restrict themselves to blossoms of one plant species at a time, without flitting from one species to another.

Bee start work early in the morning and continue late evening and put more work. They work their way into the flowers so efficiently and bring about pollination. When they extend their proboscis to the nectar of the flower they come into contact with the stigmatic surface first and them with the pollen grains which may immediately stick to the body.

Long tongued bees like apis dorsata can work on flowers with long corolla tubes. Sttingless bees with their small body size can work on smaller flowers. Honey bees have the memory of the source. They continue to visit the source as long as they do not find a better source. Nectar and pollen rewards are available at a particular time of the day and the bees memorize to visit the source during those hours.

The availability of pollen and nectar is the only thing which links the pollinators with entomophilies plants. Bees have a sharp instinct for locating nectar and evaluating its quality. The yield of the plants depend upon nectar production and honey collection. Entomophilies flowers are showy, brightly colored, large, odoriferous and produce nectar. Generally, pollen grains liberated by them are sticky. When a bee is collecting nectar or pollen, thousands of pollen grains stick on the body of the bee. Upon landing on another flower and trying to collect the reward the pollens get deposited on the stigma of the flowers and pollination is effected.

It would be highly desirable to have a big population of pollinating insects at the blossoming time of a crop so that maximum yield of the crop is obtained and the number of insects available at that time does not act as a limiting factor.

The advantage of cross pollination by insect is that it helps to increase the yield of agricultural crops, increase fruit set and reduces fruit drop, the fruits produced will be more nutritious and aromatic, increase in number, size and weight or seeds, increases oil content in oil seed crops, diseases and other environmental conditions, germination of seeds improves, increase viability of seeds, embryos and plants.

The advancement of agricultural technologies have resulted in the dwindling of wild insect pollinators. Irrational use of pesticides cause agriculture has resulted in clearing of waste lands. disappearance of uncultivated strips and corners destroys the succession of nectar and pollen yielding plants that provide food for these insects. Wild pollinators and honey bees are killed by pesticide use in corp protection. Because of these facts dependence on hive bees for pollination of crops is on increase. True honeybees and stingless bees have many desirable qualities and surpass all other insects in their value as pollinators.

Cultivated plants are infested by pest during their flowering season and chemical control measures are taken. This results in the elimination of pollinator population. Farmers apply large quantity of pesticides and they are unaware of their hazards to insect pollinators and other beneficial insects. Killing of bees by pesticides is the most discouraging factor of apiculture.

Dust are more hazardous than sprays. Wettable powders have long residual effect. Pesticides applied directly on flowers do harm to bees since they visit plants during their flowering period. Bees are generally active during the day time and they start foraging early in the morning hours. Evening or late applications, depending on the bee activity, will be safe. Ground application is safer than aerial application because the danger of drifting is reduced.

At present beekeeping is confined to limited areas and it is oriented towards honey production. The full utilization of bee flora is possible by migration of bee colonies to crops in bloom. Hence, there is ample scope for migratory beekeeping in the country. Implementation of planned bee pollination will bring in great revolution in rural development through appreciable increase in agricultural production ad honey production.

Before the placement of bee colonies in the field, the following points should be considered. Colony strength, number of colonies required, distribution of colonies in the field and time of placement of colonies. Large and stronger colonies are better pollinators than smaller and weaker ones because it has a higher number of older bees as foragers. Good honey yielding colonies are better and more efficient pollinators. The strength of a colony depends on honey bee bread, availability of nectar and pollen plants as food resources and management practices employed.

The number of bee colonies required for different cultivated species for pollination depends on density of plant stand, total number of flowers in the inflorescence of each plant, duration of flowering, strength of bee colonies and number of flowers over an area of the land.

Honeybees always tend to forage in the area which is closest to their hive. Usually they visit primarily those sources of nectar flow which are within 0.3 to 0.5km radius from apiary. At a distance of more than 0.5km pollination activity diminishes significantly. Bee colonies should be placed in the field when 5-10 % of the plant is in bloom. If the bees are moved in too late, they can only pollinate the late and less vigorous flowers. The amount of nectar collected by the bees decreases as the distance of the flowering plants from the apiary increases. Weather conditions play an important role in pollinating as it affect the bee activity as well as fruit settings. Excessive low and high temperature and high wind velocity adversely affects foraging activity of bees.

In USA and some of the countries, pollination service with bees is commercialized. Large agricultural farms for the production of fruits and seeds pay large amounts of money to apiaries that specialize in bee pollination of plants.

A planned and organized placement of large bee colonies toward the beginning of plant flowering always results in a significant (40 to 50 % or more ) increase in the yield of plants as well as high level of honey collection. It is proved that crop production is enhanced in plants like coffee, cardamom, cashew, coconut and vegetables by the pollination of honey bees. Care should be taken to avoid irrational use of pesticides and use only sager ones so that the natural honey bee fauna can be protected for enhancing crop productivity.

We have 4000 thousand apis cerana bee colonies, We do migration on rent/lease basis with our bee colonies in south India. Anyone want to do the honey bee pollination, contact us for more information. We give best service for your better agree yield


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