Lesson Note
Subject: Agricultural Science
Topic: Apiculture (Bee Keeping)
Lesson Objective: by the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:

  1. State the meaning of Apiculture;
  2. List different types of bees;
  3. State the importance of bee keeping;
  4. State various methods of bee keeping and their equipment;
  5. State precautionary measures in bee keeping;
  6. Prepare equipment for bee keeping and produce quality honey.

Lesson Summary/Discussion


The term Apiculture is derived from the the Latin word apis which means bee. Apiculture can be defined as the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans for the purpose of producing honey and wax. In other words, bee keeping is the art and science of domesticating bees (insects) for production of products such as honey and wax. Bee-keeping is an important part of small-scale integrated farming systems and works particularly well near natural forests or on integrated farms with abundant water and flowers.

A bee-keeper is called an apiarist. He specializes in keeping bees for the sole purpose of collecting honey, and other products of the hive (including bees wax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other bee keepers. A location where bees are kept is called
apiary or “bee-yard”.

There are two major types of bees. These are indigenous bees and exotic bees:

A. Indigenous Bees: These are local bees commonly found in local environment.

Characteristics of Indigenous Bees

  • They are majorly of African origin.
  • They have smaller body size, height, low productive ability, lower growth rate, lower honey and wax production.
  • They are not very economical in terms of commercial production of honey and wax. Example is the African black bees.

B. Exotic Bees: These are bees imported from other countries to West Africa. These species are capable of interbreeding and hybridizing. Many bee breeding companies strive to selectively breed and hybridize varieties to produce desirable
qualities such as disease and parasite
resistance, good honey production,
swarming behaviour reduction, prolific breeding and mild disposition. Some of these hybrids are marketed under specific brand names, such as the Buckfast bee or midnite bee.

Examples of Exotic Bees

  • Western honey bee (Apis millifera)
  • Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica)
  • European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)
  • Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica)
  • Meditterenean bee (Apis cerana)


Bee-keeping by farmers is of great importance and such benefits include:
Income generation: The sales of honey and other products do generate income for farmers when offer for sale or export.
Provision of food: Honey which is the main products derived from bee-keeping is consume locally as food.
Employment: Bee-keeping is a source
of employment as it generate income to many people from production to
marketing of the products
Industrial purpose: Honey is used for many industrial purposes e.g. production of cosmetics etc.
Production of wax: Bee-keeping also
help to produce a special substance
called wax. Wax is very important for
the production of candles.
Medicinal purposes: Honey and other associated products are also known to be use in the preparation of medical items that are useful to humans.
Production of crops: Honey bees cross pollinate flowers to produce fruits and seeds for growing crops. To farmers, the honey bees are worth billions of naira.
In fact, farmers rent honey bee colonies from the apiculturist for these purpose.


There are two major methods of Bee-keeping. These are the traditional
method and modern methods.

1. Traditional method of bee-keeping:
In this methods, honey bees are allowed to remain in their natural habitats. The natural home for a honey bee colony is a hollow tree, log or cave. Honey bee build a nest only in locations which are dry and protected from the wind and sunlight. These bees are less selective and may
nest in hollowed-out termite mounds, rock piles and locations which are less well protected. The management of this method is very low as the bees are left to fend for themselves.
Gathering or harvesting honey from the wild bee colonies is usually done by subduing the bees with smoke and breaking open the tree or rocks where the colony is located, often resulting in the physical destruction of the nest.
Production of honey under this system is very low.

2. Modern bee keeping: This is the
method commonly used in today apiculture. Exotic breeds which ensure high production of honey and other products are used or reared.
Scientific bee keeping started in 1851 when an America L.L Langstroth discovered bee space and the movable frame hive. Bee space is the
open space which is about 0.4 in (lcm) wide and this space is maintained around and between the combs in any hive or natural nest and in which the bees walk. If this space is smaller or
larger than 0.4 in (1cm), the bee will join the combs. Under this condition, when the combs are stuck together, the hive is not movable, and it is not possible for bee-keepers to manipulate a colony or to examine a brood nest. This was later corrected as the bees could be forced to build a straight comb in a wooden frame by given them a piece of wax called foundation, on which the bases of the cells were already embossed. Bee now use these bases to build honey comb, the cells of which are used for both rearing brood and for storing honey. When a hive of bees is given a foundation, they are forced to build the comb where the bee keeper want it and not where they might otherwise be inclined to build it.

In this method, the honey can be
harvested or removed from the comb by placing a comb full ot honey in centrifugal force machine called an extractor. If the bee keeper can return
an intact comb to a hive after removing the honey from it, the bees are saved from the time and trouble of building a new comb and the honey
harvest is increased under this method of bee keeping.


The honey which bee keepers harvest is made from nectar, a sweet sap or sugar syrup produced by special glands in flowers collected from both wild and cultivated plants. Nectar, the honey bees source of sugar or carbohydrate, and pollen, their source of protein and fat, make up their entire diet. Nectar contain 50-90%
water, 10-50% sugar (mainly sucrose) and 14% aromatic substance; colouring materials and minerals. To transform nectar into honey, bees
reduce it moisture content, so that the final honey produce contains between 14-19% water and also add two enzymes which they produced in
their body.


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There are certain precautionary measures that must be taken to prevent hazards especially during the management and harvesting of honey
bees. These precautionary measure includes:

1. Location of apiaries far from human dwellings: This is done to ensure that bees do not sting people regularly. It also ensure that honey production are not disturbed from time to time.

2. Putting warning symbols near apiaries: The apiarist must ensure that warning symbols are placed in strategic location few distance to
the apiaries. This is to ensure that people do not run into bees that can sting them.

3. Wearing of protective clothing: Bee keepers often wear protective clothing to protect themselves from stings. Some of the items that are use as protective clothing include a good
quality bee keeping suit, sturdy gloves and a hat with accompanying veil to cover the face.

4. Use of smokers: Bee keepers always use “smokers during the management of the colony including harvesting of honey. A smoker is a device designed to generated smoke from the incomplete combustion of various fuels. Smoke calm bees, it initiate a feeding response in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire. The ensuring confusion creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the hive and work without any disturbance from the honey bees.

See previous lessons in Agricultural Science

Lesson Evaluation/Test
1.Define apiculture
2. State the importance of bee keeping.
3. List and explain the various types of bee keeping.
4. Mention and discuss the two methods of Bee-Keeping.

Questions answered correctly? Great👍

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