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Apiculture (from Latin: "bee") is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect their honey and other products that the hive produces (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary or "bee yard".
Depictions of humans collecting honey from wild bees date to 15,000 years ago. Beekeeping in pottery vessels began about 9,000 years ago in North Africa. Domestication is shown in Egyptian art from around 4,500 years ago. Simple hives and smoke were used and honey was stored in jars, some of which were found in the tombs of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun. It wasn't until the 18th century that European understanding of the colonies and biology of bees allowed the construction of the moveable comb hive so that honey could be harvested without destroying the entire colony.
At some point humans began to attempt to domesticate wild bees in artificial hives made from hollow logs, wooden boxes, pottery vessels, and woven straw baskets or "skeps". Traces of beeswax are found in pot sherds throughout the Middle East beginning about 7000 BCE.
Honeybees were kept in Egypt from antiquity. On the walls of the sun temple of Nyuserre Ini from the Fifth Dynasty, before 2422 BCE, workers are depicted blowing smoke into hives as they are removing honeycombs. Inscriptions detailing the production of honey are found on the tomb of Pabasa from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (c. 650 BCE), depicting pouring honey in jars and cylindrical hives. Sealed pots of honey were found in the grave goods of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.
|Days 1-3||Cleaning cells and incubation|
|Day 3-6||Feeding older larvae|
|Day 6-10||Feeding younger larvae|
|Day 8-16||Receiving nectar and pollen from field bees|
|Day 12-18||Beeswax making and cell building|
|Day 14 onwards||Entrance guards; nectar, pollen, water and
propolis foraging; robbing other hives
|Stage of development||Queen||Worker||Drone|
|Egg||3 days||3 days||3 days|
|Larva||8 days||10 days||13 days :Successive moults occur within this period 8 to 13 day period|
|Cell Capped||day 8||day 8||day 10|
|Pupa||4 days||8 days||8 days|
|Total||15 days||21 days||24 days|
(1000 metric tons)
(1000 metric tons)
of bee hives
|Europe and Russia|
|Serbia||3 to 5||6.3||30,000||430,000|
|United States (*2006, **2002)||70.306*||158.75*||12,029** (210,000 bee keepers)||2,400,000*|
|Canada||45 (2006); 28 (2007)||29||13,000||500,000|
|Argentina||93.42 (Average 84)||3|
|China||299.33 (average 245)||238||7,200,000|
|Turkey||82.34 (average 70)||66||4,500,000|
|Central African Republic||14.23||14|
|South Africa (*2008)||~2.5*||~1.5*||~1,790*||~92,000*|
|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Uncapping the cells by hand using an uncapping knife
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