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All India Coordinated Research Project on Honey Bees and Pollinators

Success Stories

  1. Managed bee pollination for harvesting more apples

Telangi, a small village in hilly tracts of Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh dominated by tribal farmers growing apple in their small land holdings. Surveys on the constraints in the apple production in the village by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Reckong Peo identified pollination deficit as the major reason for low yields of apple orchards due to poor pollinizer ratio and lack of sufficient pollinators in orchards for effective pollination. Krishi Vigan Kendra, Reckong Peo in collaboration with AICRP (Honeybees and Pollinators), Solan centre have organized one day  awareness camp on pollination management in apple orchards to the tribal farmers and distributed 60 Apis mellifera colonies  under TSP funding for pollination of 40 ha of apple orchards. The colonies were placed in apple orchards through GPS mapping during entire flowering period of apple. As a result of introduction of bee colonies the apple yields have been increased by 19.44 per cent. In addition, the bee colonies have produced 210 kg of pure white organic honey by foraging on medicinal herbs in the off season. The farmers are selling this honey under brand name “Telangi Honey” at a premium price. Each farmer got an additional income of Rs. 20000/acre of apple orchard by using honey bee as input at a minimal cost. A small intervention in the production process enhanced the apple production in turn the economic prosperity of the resource poor tribal farmers.


  1. Pollen dispenser for efficient pollination of apple crop:

Apple is a highly cross pollinated crop and depends on insects in particularly on bees for efficient pollination. Pollination deficit was observed to be major factor responsible for low yield in orchards with low pollinator population and pollenizer ratios. Modified light weight pollen dispensers made of Kail wood designed by the AICRP (HB&P) center at Dr. Y.S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry was proved to be boon for apple orchards having low pollenizer proportion. Pollen dispensers can be easily fixed on to hive entrance of Apis mellifera colonies and filled with scientifically harvested and processed pollen from the suitable pollenizer varieties. These colonies were placed in the orchards at suitable intervals with the help of GPS technology to achieve efficient pollination. Quantity and quality of apples produced in the orchards supplemented with Apis mellifera hives with pollen dispensers was found superior compare to orchards supplemented only bee hives and orchards without any supplementary pollination. Use of pollen dispensers was found to increase the apple yield by 21.00 per cent in orchards with low pollenizer proportions. The orchardists of Himachal Pradesh readily accepted this technology and the center is in the process of transferring this technology to progressive bee keepers for manufacture of pollen dispensers in commercial scale.

                       Pollen dispenser


  1. Low cost technology for artificial domicilation of solitary bees

Solitary bees are important pollinators of the agricultural and horticultural crops and their role in pollination of crops is well documented. The rapid decline in their population owing to dearth of nesting sites, habitat destruction and pesticide use warrants for the suitable measures for the conservation of the these valuable pollinators. Surveys on nesting sites of solitary bees indicated that dry paddy straws either stacked in village areas for feeding cattle or used as a thatch material is the preferred substrate for constructing nests. Paddy straws of 4 to 6 mm diameter cavity and 15 cm length were kept in the farm as bundles. Bundles were monitored at weekly interval for their acceptance and per cent domiciliation by the bees. After 18 days, 30% of the straws were nested by the solitary bees. Similar trials paper roll bundles of 0.8 cm to 1 cm installed at height of 2m height is preferred by leaf cutter bees (Megachile sp.) for its nesting.  These low cost technologies can be deployed for the conservation of pollinators as well as augmenting the pollination services. These nested bundles can be shifted to cropped areas for pollination purpose.


Paddy straw bundles

Nesting by Ceratina paddy straw bundles


Nesting by Megachila paddy straw bundles

       Paper roll bundles

  4.Integrated Management of Swarming and absconding in Apis cerana

Swarming and absconding are the major problems in Apis cerana bee keeping. Each year Apis cerana bee keeper’s reports loss in number of colonies due to absconding and swarming. AICRP (HB&P) center at OUAT, Bhubaneswar has developed integrated management of Apis cerana colonies to prevent the frequent swarming and absconding. The bee keepers can prevent the swarming and absconding in Apis cerana colonies by following the practices like regular and periodic bottom board cleaning (at seven days interval), maintaining healthy& populous colony, regular and periodic dearth feeding of sugar solution (sugar: water:: 1:1), removal of old combs and allowing new comb construction, need based brood comb alteration, need based colony union or division. The adoption of these practices in the apiaries of the university has resulted in minimizing the problem of swarming and absconding colonies to zero per cent compare to 25-30 per cent colony loss due to swarming and absconding. 

5. Scientific domiciles for stingless bees

Stingless bee keeping is an age old practice in Kerala and north eastern states of the country. Stingless bees are traditionally managed in log hives or bamboo node hives for the production of highly priced honey having medicinal properties. Some of the disadvantages with the traditional hives were difficulties in opening of the hives during the extraction of honey, problems with division of the colony and disturbance to brood development during the honey extraction. AICRP (HB&P) centers have designed scientific domiciles for different regions for rearing the stingless bees. Newly designed domiciles have achieved good colony strength in a short time compare to traditional hives with more honey storage. The scientific hives are also easy to open during the honey extraction and colonies can be easily divided in split wooden hives designed by the centers.  The new domiciles designed by the centers have been adopted by stingless bee keepers in Kerala and Nagaland. Honey production has been increased by using the new scientific domiciles. Since, the new wooden hives are light in weight; they can be transported easily for managed pollination in crops.