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Honey supplying and bee colony providing unit

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Kerala is blessed with rich floral diversity and congenial climatic conditions which offers immense scope for beekeeping in the state thus contributing a major share of total honey production in India.  Beekeeping has been practiced in Kerala traditionally by indigenous methods.  The first concerted effort in this direction was the formulation of a project by Kerala Agricultural University on improvement of beekeeping practices in the homesteads of Kerala in 1984. The project was initiated with a view to limit the constraints in beekeeping for making it a profitable venture in the homesteads.

During 1993, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) accorded sanction to implement an ad-hoc project entitled “Epidemiology of honeybee disease in Kerala and its management”.Considering the need for research and development of apiculture in Kerala, ICAR was pleased to sanction an All India Co-ordinated Research Project for the State during the VIIIth Plan period.  Vellayani was identified as its centre and thus the AICRP on Honeybee Research and Training Centre started functioning with headquarters at College of Agriculture, Vellayani in 1994. 

Mandate and objectives of the AICRP on Honey bees and Pollinators

  • To undertake apicultural research for standardization of advanced scientific technologies for bee management, better honey production and other hive products, bee health management, bee pollination, production of value added products of honey and wax etc.
  • To impart training to beekeepers on high tech management in apiculture
  • To generate employment potential to women and unemployed youth
  • Conservation  of germplasm  of different bee species and other insect pollinators for  pollination and to enhance crop productivity


   Achievements/ technologies generated

  1. Rejuvenation of beekeeping industry in Kerala

This centre has developed TSBV tolerant / resistant nucleus colonies of Indian bee Apiscerana indica by selective breeding. These nucleus colonies were distributed to selected bee breeders, they multiplied them and distributed to the beekeepers.


  1. Technologies generated/ standardized
  • Technologies for seasonal management, bee health management, quality honey production, honey processing, marketing, hive based value added products
  • Technology for  mass multiplication of bee colonies
  • Technology for increased production of quality honey to helpthe beekeepers to fetch better price for honey in the market.
  • Standardized the number of bee hives required for yield enhancement in culinary melon as four Indian honeybee hives with six frames for one hectare
  • Melissopalynological investigations of honey and pollen samples collected from Indian bee apiaries of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts revealed the presence of 69 different foraging plants for their colonial sustenance and honey production.  Of these, C. nuciferaand M. pudica were the predominant as well as the frequently occurring pollen types during all the three seasons.
  • Laboratory evaluation of insecticides revealed that the Neonicotinoids, Thiamethoxam 25 WG and dinotefuran 20 SG was found to be highly toxic to Indian and stingless bees at both the concentrations (0.3 gL-1 and 0.15 gL-1).

Cyantraniliprole 20 SC @ 1.2 mL L-1 and novaluron 10 EC @ 2.0 mL L-1 are safe to the pollinators in terms of their foraging behaviour when compared to dimethoate 30 EC @ 0.5 mL L-1.Considering the safety of new generation insecticides to the dominant pollinators, they can be used for effective pest management in vegetable crops.

  • Maximum incidence of Indian honeybee brood disease was recorded from the apiaries of Kollam followed by Thiruvananthapuram. The pathogen was identified as Bacillus pumilus and Achromobactersp. Timely removal of the infected combs, replacement of queen and provision of crushed garlic 0.25 % along with the artificial feed (sugar syrup 50 %) at weekly intervals was found to be effective in managing the brood disease.
  • Histomorphological studies of honey bee larvae subjected to various stressors (brood disease, sugar fed) had adverse effect on the midgut where they exhibited necrosis of epithelial cells, broken and unclear microvilli and distorted peritrophic membrane.  When probiotics @ 1.2 g L-1 was supplemented to such honey bee larvae, it helped in mitigating the intensity of cell necrosis by restoration of number of regenerative cells and the larval health was found to be recovered which was indicated by the even distribution of microvilli.


  1. Meliponiculture (Commercial beekeeping with stingless bee)
  • Stingless bees are very good pollinators and produce the unique honey with high medicinal properties.  The centre has identified the species of stingless bees seen in Kerala as Trigonairidipennis Smith for the first time in India with the support of ICAR adhoc scheme.
  • The Centre has pioneered in generation of techniques for commercial Meliponiculture viz., hiving feral colonies, managing the bees in hives, stingless honey extraction, division of colonies, management during brood rearing, honey flow season and lean season and also to protect the species from diseases and enemies. 
  • The small hive beetle which primarily infested the stingless bee colonies is identified as the nitidulid beetle, Epuraea. latissima. The hive beetle incidence can be reduced by using good quality wooden boxes, where the bad quality wooden boxes along with high rainfall predisposes hive beetle incidence in the apiaries.
  • ICAR has recognised Vellayani centre as the nodal centre for stingless bee research throughout the country.
  1. The ICAR has entrusted this centre to explore the possibilities of stingless bee species for pollination in poly houses/ protected cultivation (Indo-Australian Project), yield enhancement and quality seed production in vegetables.



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