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Honey bee on a flower

European honey bee

Apiculture (beekeeping) is maintaining honey bee colonies and collecting honey, beeswax and other products. The root word of apiculture is 'apis', meaning bee in Latin. Honey bees are social species and live in large colonies. There are several species suitable for apiculture.

Popular honey bee species

Apis mellifera species (western honey bee) is universally preferred by the beekeepers in Europe and America. There are many subspecies of Apis mellifera and several local varieties. Apis mellifera ligustica (Italy), Apis mellifera mellifera (European) and Apis mellifera carnica (Carniolan) are popular subspecies.

Apis cerana are the tropical species managed in tropics for honey production. Subspecies of Apis mellifera have been hybridized by selective breeding techniques and honey bees with brand names like Buckfast Bee or Midnite Bee have been marketed.

Many desirable qualities for apiculture like resistance to disease, resistance to parasites, reduced swarming behavior, prolific breeding, very mild disposition are looked for while hybridizing the subspecies. However subsequent generations during apiculture may lose the hybrid vigor and lose these qualities.

Domesticating honey bees

Domesticating honey bees is very ancient and evidence of apiculture can be found in ancient cultural artifacts in China, Greece, Middle East, Near East, Egypt and Maya areas. Francois Huber (July 2, 1750 – December 22, 1831) and his assistant Francois Burnens made detailed study about the social and colonial life of honey bees and their breeding and propagation.

He had written his observations in "Nouvelles Observations sur Les Abeilles". For his contribution to apiculture he is regarded as "the father of modern bee-science".

Earlier in apiculture, to extract honey, the whole comb with the colony was destroyed. Later Lorenzo Langstroth (1810-1895) designed a series of sliding wooden frames within a hive box, leaving 'bee space' (between 5 and 8 mm, or 1/4 to 3/8"). The honey bees do not fill up this space with wax and leave it open as a passage.

Individual frame can be removed without destroying comb for inspection. The frame with honey can be emptied of honey and return for refilling by honey bees. This invention of movable-comb-hive gave great fillip to the apiculture. Based on the Lorenzo Langstroth apiculture model a number of improvements and modification have been done by apiarists and inventors a wide range of moveable honey come boxes are available in the market.

Interesting topics on apiculture

Interesting topics coming up on apiculture: history of apiculture, modern beekeeping, bee smoker, natural beekeeping, beginner beekeeping, beekeeping equipment, organic beekeeping, urban beekeeping, pictures of honeybees, top bar beekeeping, honey bee colonies, honey bee colony collapse disorder, harvesting honey, africanized honey bees, European honey bee and beekeepers.

Apiculture is an art by itself, and a beekeeper has to closely monitor his colonies. Management errors take a big toll on the honey production and loss of colonies.

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