Honey bees are considered as farmer friends because they benefit farmer in so many ways. These honey bees are domesticated for purpose of honey and wax production. Honey bees are fascinating insect of order hymenoptera. Farmer domesticate them due to characteristics of these bees that they make social organization, produce sweet honey, industriousness and selflessness (produce honey and die in defending their hive). Beekeeping depends upon land availability, adequate floral resources, finances and value of honey in market.
Honey bees farming has basically two benefits ; one is yield of honey or wax and second is pollination of crops. Honey bees collect nectar from the flowers and make honey with glandular secretions .Honey farming is a very successful and comparatively ease process. Due to their honey value and vital role in pollination, they are artificially reared. A farmer can gain 20-25 kg honey from a single colony of Apis cerana while in case of Apis dorsata up to 50 kg of honey is gained per year. Farmer sale out his yield and fulfills his requirements. Forage honey bees visits plants to plants throughout the day to get nectar to make honey. Normally a single bee can visit 50 to 1000 flowers in one tour which takes about 30 minutes to 4 hour. The flowers of white, blue and yellow colour are more attracted by honey bees.
Honey bees act as farmer friend because almost 80% of flowering crops are cross pollinated by honey bees. Honey bees play major role in transferring pollen from plant male part anther to female part stigma. As all the cross pollinated crops, Vegetables and fruits are pollinated by others organisms. So, almost 1/3 of human food is gained directly or indirectly by pollination done by bees. So most beneficial aspect of honey bees is pollination not production of wax or honey.
Honey bees transfer pollen not only from plant to plant but also from flower to flower. Honey bees are considered good pollinator for the farmer due to their characteristics of having hairy body structure, large number of members of their colony, and their size of body which helps them to pollinate blossom of many structure and size. Honey bees colony can be shifted from one place to other which is a desirable aspect for the farmer.
Honey bees pollinate a wide range of crops, fruit and vegetables especially cotton, cucumber, apple, squash, muskmelon, pumpkin, alfalfa, blueberry, blackberry, true clover, watermelon, peach, apricot, cherry, plum, oranges, sunflower, onion and pear. In cotton 19.5% yield is increased if ½ colony /acre is managed. In sunflower honey bees play vital role in pollination. Pollination in apples should be housed in a two story hive with a laying queen and 4-5 frames with brood are required and sufficient bees to cover these frames. For apple normally 1.5 hive per acre gives better result. For cucumber 4 hives per acre are efficient. Honey bees also responsible in cross pollination of fodder crops of farmer like alfalfa and soybean which are feed of cattle of farmer. In United State almost 150 billions dollors are annually gained be pollinated crops whose 80% pollination done by bees.
Honey bees visit same species of plant at a time to collect pollen which enhance effectiveness of phenomenon of pollination. When they move from one plant to other for collection of pollen, pollen attach to their hairy body which transferred to next plant on which they sit. Pollination is the last chance for farmers to increase yield in fruit or nut bearing crops. Pollination made it possible for farmer to gain maximum number of fruits from a fruit tree. Honey bees improve quality of grapes, okra, eggplant and strawberry. If pollination is not done then nurse bees can not produce Royal jelly for queen, so egg laying by queen is stopped.
Farmer should be very careful in maintaining the honey bee population because honey bees can swarm from that place if environment will not be suitable for them. Sometimes farmer use chemical attractants to attract bees to visit their field. In this way bees will make orient to the nest of that farmer. These chemicals are called as Nasonoy pheromone or synthetic queen pheramone. There must be proper number of crop or blossoms to be visited to do pollination by bees.
Farmer apply pesticide in field to kill target insect but our desired or beneficial insect are also killed in such a way. Excessive pesticide application in fields has badly affected the population of honey bees. It has devasted economically. There are several parasitic species of mites which devasted honey bees population. Colony is collapsed and cause disorder.
Pesticide are dangerous for foraging bees when they sit on flower, pesticide attach to their skin, when they go back to hive this pesticide can kill young brood. Slow acting pesticides are more hazardous because when forage bees with contaminated pollen enter to hive, it kills young ones for weeks. Farmer should apply those insecticides which are in granular forms or solution. Wettable powder and dust are more harmful for honey bees. As these honey bees visit the plants at daytime, So farmer should spray the field in early evening. Till morning target insect will be killed and residual affects also be reduced. So farmer must care his best to save his friends honey bees to increase the process of pollination and to gain good honey yield.
Dr. Muhammad Anjum Aqueel1,3, Dr. Rashad Mukhtar Balal1,2, Dr. Muhammad Adnan Shahid1,2, Bilal Ahmad1
1 University College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Pakistan;
2 Cornell University, NY, USA
3 Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, SL5 7PY, U.K.