Ludhiana, August 17: “The beekeepers in India domesticate bees only to produce honey and some beeswax. However, in addition to honey, production of bees wax, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, pedigree queen bees, package bees and renting out honey bee colonies for crop pollination are some of the potential areas of apicultural diversification in the Punjab state,” said the entomologists of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
Technologies for the production of different products like royal jelly, bees wax and bee venom are now available in India, shared Dr Balwinder Singh, Head of Entomology Department, while highlighting that PAU has initiated a regular training course on “Diversification in Beekeeping” for progressive beekeepers of the state. All these hive products present a great scope for increasing colony productivity and enhancing income of the beekeepers, added he.
Referring to royal jelly, the PAU beekeeping expert, Dr P.K. Chhuneja divulged that in China, its average production is 5-7 kg/colony (maximum being 10 kg/colony). China exports 1500-1800 tones of royal jelly while Taiwan exports 260 tonnes annually. Informing that royal jelly is used in several medicines, cosmetics and as dietary supplement, he said that the price of royal jelly in different countries varies from US$ 50-80 (Rs 2500-4000)/kg for raw and over US$ 3000/kg for processed or freeze dried royal jelly. Dr Chhuneja further told that bees wax is used in candle making, shoe polish, vehicle and floor polishes, varnish, gum, carbon paper, electrical appliances, fabric industry, cosmetic industry, wax crayons, metal casting and food processing and packaging. In beekeeping industry, it is used for the preparation of comb foundations. Recently, imported German machines have been installed in Punjab for continuous fabrication of comb foundations, said he, adding that in India, its whole price in Rs 150-200 per kg and its foundations are sold at Rs 250 per kg.
Discussing about pollen production, another expert, Dr Jaspal Singh said that this hive product finds its use in medicines, cosmetic industry and as highly nutritive dietary supplement in health clubs for muscle building. The countries producing pollen are USA, China, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Australia. He told that its whole sale price in the international market varies from US$ 5-13 (about Rs 250-650)/kg and retail price from US$ 11-30 (about Rs 550-1500)/kg. The capsules and tablets made from the pollen are sold at US$ 900 (about Rs 45,000)/kg. Dr Singh explained that propolis is used in human and veterinary medicines and that its price varies between US$ 4-12 (about Rs 200-600) though in some countries, it is as high as US$ 52 (about Rs 2600)/kg. He said that the main producer of bee venom is USA and its price varies from US$ 100 to 200 (Rs 5000-10,000)/g.
About queen bees and brood, the PAU experts said that nearly 150 to 200 queens/colony can be produced in 5-6 months, during breeding season, in northern India, especially in Punjab. In India, a good quality/pedigree queen bee can be sold for Rs 150 to 200. They highlighted that honey bees are excellent agents of crop pollination because they can be easily managed at time and in any number. In India, there is a great demand of honey bee colonies for pollination of apple, other temperate fruit plants and for hybrid production of various vegetables, oilseeds and other field crops. Thus, beekeepers can earn additional income by renting out their bee colonies to the farmers for pollination service to their crops, exhorted the experts.