Apiculture is an important part of agriculture which has immense potential for supplementing farmers’ income and providing employment to rural youth. It also helps in improving the quality and quantity of the crop-yield.
Honey is rich in vitamins, nutritious and of high medicinal value. Each l (X) gram of honey contains 60 mile go of vitamin B, 6 mg of vitamin B1, 5 mg of vitamin C and 32 mg of nicotine acid with caloric value of 319 calories. Honey is exhilarating, antiseptic and a good medicine for a number of diseases like acidity, dyspepsia, diabetes, anaemia, calculi etc.
According to FAO the total production of honey in the world during 1991-92 was 15 lakh tones of which only 1 lakh tones (0.66 per cent of world production) came from India. The country has potentiality of producing about 1.5 to 2 lakh tones of honey annually. Present production of honey in the country is about 27,000 tons per year.
Major portion of it is obtained from Apis Dorsata, though the share of apiary honey is increasing every year. Most of the honey produced in India is collected by tribal from forests and hilly areas.
Only 30 per cent of the production is raised through Khadi and Gramodyog and commercial bee keeping. Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh are the major producers of honey in the country. Himachal Pradesh is the only state in the country where every year support price is announced for the honey.
Although five varieties of bees (Apis Floria, Melipona spee, Trygona spee, Apis Serona Indica and Apil Dorsata) are found in India most of the honey production comes from the Apis variety. The per bee-hive production of honey amounts to 5 kg which varies from 1.8 to 2.3 kg in south India and from 5.5 to 6.8 kg in north India. By using improved techniques and scientific techniques of apiculture the output may be raised to 50 kg per hive per year.
A major portion of the honey produced in India is used in medicines and only a small quantity j finds a place on the table as a food. There is a great scope for its export to the European countries, the U.S.A. and Japan because Indian honey is cheaper than Brazil and Argentina.
To promote apiculture in rural areas of the country the government has established training and research centers in different parts of the country. The Ram Krishna Dham center at Almora and Gandhi Ashram center at Haldwani in Uttaranchal are catering to the needs of apiculture in the state. Financial assistance is provided by the Vikaskhand (block) to encourage apiculture on modern lines.