1. Apiary site:

  • Apiary is a place where bee hives are kept and should be free from pollution.
  • Surrounded by enormous flowers to collect honey
  • Natural water sources for bees
  • Should be free from pesticides, else bees die
  • Temperature should not be too hot
  • Not in strong winds, so that bees can easily collect honey

2. Bee hive structure

  • Bee hive or bee box needs to kept on stand to prevent it from ants
  • Bee hive consists of three sections,
  • Bottom brood chamber,
  • Middle super chamber and
  • Lid at the top
  • Super chamber is most important for producing pure natural organic honey
  • 99% beekeepers in India do not keep super chambers

3. Brood chamber

  • It consists of 7 frames of honey comb.
  • This chamber contains the entrance at the bottom, through which bees can come and go out of the hive.
  • Breeding of honey bees takes place in brood chamber
  • Contains eggs, larvae, pupa and 30% honey & pollen to feed young bees
  • Honey should not be harvested from this chamber
  • The combs in this chamber are big, so more breeding of bees takes place, which increases population on bees and hence help in increase honey collection.

4. Brood frame:

  • A wooden frame with projections for hanging inside the hive.
  • Totally 7 such frames are kept in a brood chamber
  • It consists of string at the center to give mechanical support to honey comb.
  • It should be made of teak wood

5. Comb foundation sheet or Wax sheet

  • We make comb foundation sheet from 100% pure bees wax.
  • This is fitted in empty frame and forms the foundation for bees to build a straight honey comb on it.
  • Without comb foundation sheet, the bees will not build a straight comb.
  • Straight comb is necessary, else bees get killed while removing and placing combs in the bee box.

6. Forming a new hive

  • A new bee hive needs to be developed from brood chamber
  • Three brood frames from a developed hive is separated and kept in an empty brood chamber.
  • Now empty brood frame with wax sheet is kept inside the hive, next to the fully developed frame.
  • When enough bee flora is available, bees collect honey and convert it to wax to build the comb.
  • Since bees are less in population, one brood frame will take 10 days to be constructed

7. Setting up a new brood chamber in bee hive

  • Four new brood frames with wax sheet fitted are kept inside the hive.
  • Bees will build brood frames one by one
  • Queen bee will lay eggs in the finished cells of the comb.
  • Now lid needs to be placed on brood chamber.
  • Empty super chamber should not be kept on partially developed brood chamber

8. Developed Brood chamber

  • After 1 month time, the entire brood chamber is filled with bees.
  • Now each frame in brood chamber consists of 70% eggs and 30% of honey and pollen to feed eggs and larvae.
  • As a good practice, honey should not be collect from brood chamber.
  • But in India, beekeepers collect honey from brood chamber only and they don’t use super chamber at all.
  • The brood chamber honey is meant for bees to feed larvae and eggs.
  • Brood chamber honey will be used by bees during, non honey flow season.
  • If brood frame honey is not extracted, artificial sugar feeding is not required during non honey flow season.

9. Adding super chamber to bee hive – Important for producing best quality honey

  • Only after brood chamber is fully developed with bees, the super chamber needs to be placed on top of brood chamber.
  • The super chamber consists of 7 frames but small in size compared to brood frames.
  • If enough bee flora is available, the super chamber will be filled with honey in 2 weeks.
  • The super chamber will have top and bottom open, so bees can pass from brood chamber to super chamber for storing surplus honey

10. Checking super chamber for honey storage

  • Lid of bee hive is removed first.
  • Since bees are now exposed to air, the bees slowly move from super chamber to brood chamber.
  • If the combs in super chamber are bulged, then honey is full in super chamber.
  • It’s now ready for harvesting.

11. Removing Super frames for honey harvesting

  • The super honey frames needs to be removed one by one.
  • If bees are aggressive, smoke produced by burning coconut fiber can be used.
  • Honey bees in each super frame needs to be dusted into the brood chamber.
  • The removed super honey frames is kept in empty super chamber beside me.

12. Honey bees from super chamber are dusted into brood chamber frames.

  • The dusted bees present in the top of brood chamber frames moves down to the brood frames and continue some work there.
  • The hive should not be kept open for long duration; else bees from other hives come to rob honey from this open hive.

13. Super honey frame filled with honey and wax capped.

  • Honey comb is formed of numerous hexagonal tubular cells made of bees wax.
  • In each tubular cell, the bees store honey.
  • Once each cell is filled with honey, bees prepare wax and seal each cell to prevent honey from exposing to moisture in air.
  • This is called wax capping.
  • As honey is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture from air and gets fermented.
  • So bees do wax capping of honey to prevent fermentation.

14. Uncapping the wax to remove honey.

  • Uncapping of wax needs to be done with sharp bee keeping knife
  • It’s like removing the skin of a mango fruit.
  • Wax capping needs to be removed on both side of the comb.
  • This needs to be done slowly; else it would damage the cells of the comb

15. Uncapped super honey frame with honey

  • The uncapped honey frame is ready for extraction.
  • Uncapping is done to extract honey with best quality.
  • Else comb needs to be squeezed, which will not produce best quality honey.
  • Approximately 2kgs of honey will be available in this single frame

16. Stainless steel extractor for best quality honey

  • This is one of the stainless steel extractor used in our farm.
  • We don’t use iron or galvanized iron extractor, as that will degrade the quality of honey.
  • In India 99% of beekeepers use ordinary galvanized iron honey extractors
  • The iron rust in ordinary galvanized iron extractor will react with honey, which makes honey not suitable especially for babies and kid’s consumption.

17. Fitting super honey frames in extractor

  • Four super frames can be loaded at a time in this extractor.
  • If the frames are not seated properly, then honey comb will be damaged during extraction.
  • This is on-field extractor, which can be taken to different beekeeping sites for spot extraction

18. Extraction of fresh raw honey from the comb.

  • If the extractor shakes during rotation, the combs will be damaged.
  • So extractor needs to be held firmly, before rotation of handle.
  • On rotating the handle, only honey from comb comes out due to centrifugal force.
  • The frame and the comb will be help in position by the mesh present in extractor.

19. Honey settling at the bottom of extractor.

  • The honey which hit the inner walls of the extractor during rotation, will now settle at the bottom of the extractor.
  • The combs are empty without honey.
  • The honey comb is intact with the frame without damage.

20. Empty super honey frame after extraction.

  • After honey extraction, the empty honey frames from the extractor are removed
  • This needs to be placed back into the super chamber of the hive.
  • We don’t cut and remove comb wax because 3kgs of honey is used by bees to prepare 1kg of bee wax.
  • So, if this is kept inside the hive, the bees need not use honey to prepare wax again.
  • It can immediately start storing honey in the comb.

21. Loading back the empty honey frames into super chamber.

  • The empty super frames are brought back to the bee hives from which it was removed.
  • One by one the empty frames needs to be kept inside the super chamber.
  • This needs to be done gently without disturbing the bees.
  • After keeping all the frames inside super chamber, the lid can be placed above the super chamber

22. On-field filtering of honey

  • As wax capping was removed from comb using knife, there may be small wax particles in the extracted honey.
  • These wax particles needs to be removed.
  • Immediate on-field filtration is best to maintain quality of honey
  • Stainless steel filter is used for this purpose.

23. Honey is full in super chamber and not extracted.

  • Suppose honey is full and not extracted from super chamber, the bees will start to build natural comb in the space found between the lid and super chamber.
  • This happens often in our apiary, during the honey flow season.
  • Now the honey combs in the lid need to be cut and removed.
  • The wax from these combs is used for preparation of wax sheets for our beekeeping purpose.
  • Excess wax is supplied to cosmetic industry for organic facial preparations.

24. Honey comb in the lid of hive

  • These are the honey combs naturally built by bees inside the lid of the hive.
  • When super chamber is full of honey and no space available to store honey in the hive, bees build combs naturally on inside the lid.
  • The honey in this lid will be around 4 kg.
  • Only honey will be stored in this comb, no eggs or larvae will be present.
  • This comb honey taste will be awesome, if we chew honey along with the comb.

25. Honey bee hives in Mango orchid

  • These are the bee hives in mango farm.
  • Based on the flowering season, we shift the bee hives to floral sources.
  • Pollination increases the crop yield by 30%