Flight of the Indian honey bee

The Apis Mellifera is the commonest bee species in the world, and the most extensively farmed — 75% of honey produced in India comes from them. But it’s excessive time we checked out our personal bees. From the forests and farms to our balconies, these exhausting staff will be noticed all over the place. More suited to our local weather and our flora, they might even be higher pollinators.

Apis Cerana Indica

AKA the Indian hive bee

Size: 9 mm. Colour: yellow and black

– Love darkish areas and often construct combed nests in tree hollows

– The bees have gotten widespread amongst farmers for pollination (from greens to coconut palms) and honey

– A colony can yield between six and eight kilos of honey per 12 months

Flight of the Indian honey bee

Apis Dorsata

AKA the rock bee

Size: 30 mm. Colour: much like the Mellifera, with golden and black bands on the stomach

– Love the mild and keep away from darkish areas

– In the wild, they construct uncovered combs underneath branches and cliffs. In cities, they like ‘artificial cliffs’ — corresponding to our condominium buildings

– They have higher a foraging vary, migrate throughout the monsoons, and may fly in dim mild

Flight of the Indian honey bee

Apis Florea

AKA the little bee or dwarf honey bee

Size: 7-10 mm. Colour: reddish-brown stomach

– Like the Dorsata, they like the mild. They make small, single comb, round hives

– They are often present in the plains

– They make a piping noise to scare of predators

Flight of the Indian honey bee


AKA the dammar bee or stingless bee

Size: 5 mm. Colour: largely black (some species have lighter abdomens)

– Much smaller than their friends

– The honey is nutritious since the bee goes deep into the flower and thus collects many nutritional vitamins and minerals

– Popular in Ayurveda — the honey is sweet for the immune system, has anti-bacterial properties, and so forth


Flight of the Indian honey bee

The international competitors

Apis Mellifera

AKA the western honey bee or European honey bee

Size: 10-20 mm. Colour: pink/brown with black bands and orange-yellow rings on the stomach

– They produce between 20 and 40 kilos per colony per 12 months

– Apis is Latin for ‘bee’ and Mellifera is Latin for ‘honey-bearing’

– Their hives will be moved simply, so many farmers use them in monoculture plantations

Sources: Sujana Krishnamoorthy, Under The Mango Tree; Axel Brockmann, National Centre for Biological Sciences; Hema Somanathan, IISER Thiruvananthapuram

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

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