APICULTURE UNIT                                                                 
Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin; apis "bee") is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect their honey and other products that the hive produces (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and bee venom). For developed countries including Nigeria, apiculture (bee keeping) frequently represented untapped natural resources.

In Nigeria, there was no record of any scientific approach by farmers to rear bees, although they harvest the honey stored by wild bees in the hallows by with fire as they do so. Honey and other products are bonus crops for those who produce them as honey bees collect the raw materials for resources that would otherwise remain un-harvested by man, the nectar and saps of wild and cultivated plants.

Apiculture is a highly technical science the basic skills of bee keeping are easily learned, the first of the skills being interest.
Products of bee hives
a.   Propolis                                                                        
b.   Pollen
c.   Royal Jelly and
d.   Bee venom

·        Propolis: Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps (approximately 6 millimeters (0.24 in) or less)/ while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its botanical source/ the most common being dark brown. Propolis is sticky at and above room temperature, 20 °C (68 °F). At lower temperatures, it becomes hard and very brittle.
·        Pollen: Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the female cone of coniferous plants. When pollen lands on a compatible pistil or female cone (i.e., when pollination has occurred), it germinates and produces a pollen tube that transfers the sperm to the ovule (containing the female gametophyte). Individual pollen grains are small enough to require magnification.
·        Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of worker bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste. When worker bees decide to make a new queen, because the old one is either weakening or dead, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of  royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully-developed ovaries needed to lay eggs.
·        Bee venom: Apitoxin, or honey bee venom, is a bitter colourless liquid; its active portion a mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. A honeybee can inject Q.l. ing of venom via its stinger. It may have similarities to sea nettle toxin.
·        Bee venom therapy, is used by some as a treatment for rheumatism and joint diseases due to its anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to desensitize people allergic to insect stings. Bee venom therapy can also be delivered in the form of a balm although this may be less potent than using live bee stings. Bee venom can be found in numerous beauty products. Tt is believed to increase blood flow therefore plumping the applied area, producing collagen. This effect aids in smoothing out lines and wrinkles.

TYPES OF BEE HIVES                    
a.  Kenyian top bar hives
b.  Fixed comb hives                                                                
c.   Movable frame hives                                                         
d.  Natural bee hives

Kenyian top bar hives: Top bar hives were originally used as traditional beekeeping a method in both Greece and Vietnam. These have no frames and the honey-filled comb is not returned to the hive after extraction, as it is in the Langstroth hive. Because of this, the production of honey is likely to be somewhat less than that of a Langstroth hive. Top bar hives are mostly kept by people who are more interested in having bees in their garden than in honey production per se.

Fixed comp hives: A fixed comb hive is a hive in which the combs cannot be removed or manipulated for management or harvesting without permanently damaging the comb. Almost any hollow structure can be used for this purpose, such as a log gum, skep or a clay pot. Fixed comb hives are no longer in common use in industrialised countries, and are illegal in some places that require inspection for problems such as varroa and American foulbrood and yet to be introduced to Nigeria.

Movable frame hives (e.g Langstroth hive): In Nigeria, the Langstroth hive is commonly used. The Langstroth was the first successful top-opened hive with movable frames, and other designs of hive have been based on it. The Langstroth hive was, however, a descendant of Jan Dzierzon's Polish hive designs. In the United Kingdom, the most common type of hive is the British National Hive: And it has the Brooder, Scavenger or Forager and the Supra. Natural hives: The natural beekeeping movement believes that modern beekeeping and agricultural practices, such as crop spraying, hive movement, frequent hive inspections, artificial insemination of queens, routine medication, and sugar water feeding, weaken bee hives. Natural beekeeping' tend to use variations of the top-bar hive, which is a simple design that retains the concept of movable comb without the use of frames or foundation.

Mating of queens: The queen emerges from her cell after 15 days of development and she remains in the hive for 3—7 days before venturing out on a mating flight. Mating flight is otherwise known as 'nuptial flight'. Her first orientation flight may only last a few seconds, just enough to mark the position of the hive. Subsequent mating flights may last from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, and she may mate with a number of male drones on each flight. Over several matings, possibly a dozen or more, the queen receives and stores enough sperm from a succession of drones to fertilize hundreds of thousands of eggs.

Female worker bees: Almost all the bees in a hive are female worker bees. At the height of summer when activity in the hive is frantic and work goes on non-stop, the life of a worker bee may be as short as 6 weeks; in late autumn, when no brood is being raised and no nectar is being harvested, a young bee may live for 16 weeks, right through the winter. During its life a worker bee performs different work functions in the hive, largely dictated by the age of the bee.
·        Male bees (drones): Drones are the largest bees in the hive (except for the queen),, at almost twice the size of a worker bee. They do not verk, do not forage for pollen or nectar and have no other known function than to mate with new queens and fertilize them on their mating flights. A bee colony generally starts to raise drones a few weeks before building queen cells so they can supersede a failing cuoen or prepare for swarming. When queen-raising for the season is over, bees in colder climates drive drones out of the hive to die/biting and tearing their legs and wings.
·        Colony reproduction, (swarming and supersedure): All colonies are totally dependent on their queen, who is the only egg-layer. However, even the best queens live only a few years and one or two roars longevity is the norm. She can choose whether or not to fertilize an egg as she lays it; if she does so, it develops into a female worker bee; if she lays an unfertilized egg it becomes a male drone. She decides which type of egg to lay depending on the size of the open brood cell she encounters on the comb. In a small worker cell, she lays a fertilized egg; if she finds a larger drone cell, she lays an unfertilized drone egg.
·        All the time that the queen is fertile and laying eggs she produces a variety of pheromones, which control the behavior of the bees in the hive. These are commonly called queen substance, but there are various pheromones with different functions. As the queen-ages, she begins to run out of stored sperm, and her pheromones begin to fail. Inevitably, the queen begins to falter, and the bees decide to replace her by creating a new queen from one of her worker eggs. They may do this because she has been damaged (lost a leg or an antenna), because she has run out of sperm and cannot lay fertilized eggs (has become a 'drone laying queen'), or because her pheromones have dwindled to where they cannot control all the bees in the hive.
·        At this juncture, the bees produce one or more queen cells: by modifying existing worker cells that contain a normal female egg. However, the bees pursue two distinct behaviors:
·        Supersedure: queen replacement within one hive without swarming Swarm cell production: the division of the hive into two colonies by swarming.                                                                         
·        Factors that trigger swarming: It is generally accepted that a colony of bees does not swarm until they have completed all of their brood combs, i.e., filled all available space with eggs, larvae, and brood. This generally occurs in late spring at a time when the other areas of the hive are rapidly filling with honey stores. One key trigger of the swarming instinct is when the queen has no more room to lay eggs and the hive population is becoming very congested. Under these conditions, a prime swarm may issue with the queen, resulting in a halving of the population within the hive, leaving the old colony with a large number of hatching bees. The queen who leaves finds herself in a new hive with no eggs and no larvae but lots of energetic young bees who create a new set of brood combs from scratch in a:very short time.
·        Artificial swarming: When a colony accidentally loses its queen, it is said to be "queenless". The workers realize that the queen is absent after as little as an hour, as her pheromones fade in the hive. The colony cannot survive without a fertile queen laying eggs to renew the population, so the workers select cells containing eggs aged less than three days and enlarge these cells dramatically to form "emergency queen cells". These appear similar to large peanut-like structures about an inch long that hang from the center or side of the brood combs. The developing larva in a queen cell is fed differently from an ordinary worker-bee; in addition to the normal honey and pollen, she receives a great deal of royal jelly, a special food secreted by young 'nurse bees' from the hypopharyngeal gland. This special food dramatically alters the growth and development of the larva so that, after metamorphosis and pupation, it emerges from the cell as a queen bee. The queen is the only bee in a colony which has fully developed ovaries, and she secretes a pheromone which suppresses the normal development of ovaries in all her workers.

·        Diseases: The common agents of disease that affect adult honey bees include fungi, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, parasites, and poisons. The gross symptoms displayed by affected adult bees are very similar, whatever the cause, making it difficult for the apiarist to ascertain the causes of problems without    microscopic identification    of microorganisms or chemical analysis of poisons.
Share on Google Plus


NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin