Beekeeping in the Southern Hemisphere is a all-the-year-round enterprise.

Beekeeping in the Southern Hemisphere is a all-the-year-round enterprise.

Article by Gerald Crawford Stellenbosch South Africa +27-0720390184

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 honey and beeswax, for the purpose of pollinating crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary.

History of beekeeping

OriginsGlobally, there are more than 20,000 species of wild bees, including many which are solitary or which rear their young in burrows and small colonies, like mason bees and bumblebees. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is concerned with the practical management of the social species of honey bees, which live in large colonies of up to 100,000 individuals.

The advantages of the initial F1 hybrids produced by these crosses include: hybrid vigor, increased honey productivity, and greater disease resistance. The disadvantage is that in subsequent generations these advantages may fade away and hybrids tend to be very defensive and aggressive.

Wild honey harvestingCollecting honey from wild bee colonies is one of the most ancient human activities and is still practiced by aboriginal societies in parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. Some of the earliest evidence of gathering honey from wild colonies is from rock painting, dating to around 13,000 BC.

The domestication of bees was well developed in Egypt and sealed pots of honey were found in the grave goods of Pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.

Study of honey beesHe observed queens laying eggs in open cells, but still had no idea of how a queen was fertilized; nobody had ever witnessed the mating of a queen and drone and many theories held that queens were “self-fertile,” while others believed that a vapor or “miasma” emanating from the drones fertilized queens without direct physical contact. Huber was the first to prove by observation and experiment that queens are physically inseminated by drones outside the confines of hives, usually a great distance away.

He was also the first to confirm that mating with drones takes place outside of hives and that queens are inseminated by a number of successive matings with male drones, high in the air at a great distance from their hive.

Traditional beekeeping

Fixed frame hivesOnly the young nurse bees can produce wax flakes which they secrete from between their abdominal plates; they build honeycomb using the artificial wax foundation as a starting point, after which they may raise brood or deposit honey and pollen in the cells of the comb.

Movable frame hivesStraw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are now unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases. However, straw skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives.

Types of beekeepersBeekeepers generally categorize themselves as:

Commercial beekeeper

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