Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. Nearly 70% of human population is dependent on agriculture. In the initial plans, huge investments were made in agricultural research and development as a result of which India became self-sufficient in food grain production. Special emphasis were also given to develop various agro based enterprises like dairy, poultry, fish farming, sericulture and beekeeping with a view to maximize farm-income and self-employment. Out of these, beekeeping industry received inadequate attention resulting its poor development in India.
It is a proven fact that beekeeping improves the economic condition of the farmers, restrict the migration of rural youth to urban areas and helps in holistic development of rural society. It is the only enterprise which did not create any problem to the nature, does not require more capital investment and skilled labour. This profession can be successfully adopted by well to do as well as small/marginal farmers, farm-women, landless labourers, rural unemployed youth and retired or in-service personals. This enterprise has minimum land and structural requirement. Initial cost to start this profession is also very nominal and recurring cost in negligible. It is suitable for rural tribals and other weaker sections of human society.
The honey bees play a vital role in upliftment of crop production through cross pollination. They can fly 50,000 miles and visit 5,000,000 blossoms to gather enough nectar to produce about 400 450 gm of honey, which is stored not for themselves but for the survival of the colony. It is estimated that India has 50 million hectares under cross pollinated crops that are benefitted by Honey bees pollination 3 to 9 bee colonies depending of crop per hectare are generally required for adequate pollination. Even if a minimum of 3 colonies per hectare are considered essential, then about 150 million colonies would be needed for assured pollination of 50 million hectare crops. Against this requirement, only 1 million bee-colonies are available at present. On the other hand, the population of wild insect pollinators is on the decline because of reduction in hibernating and nesting places due to intensive agriculture, deforestation, cleaning of wastelands and indiscriminate use of pesticides. It is, therefore, considered necessary to promote and develop beekeeping industry in India for breakthrough in agricultural production, self-employment generation and socioeconomic upliftment in rural areas.
For proper beekeeping development in our country, it is very important to provide scientific proven technology of beekeeping to beekeepers and create mass awareness in potential areas at National level. Although, various books on beekeeping are available in India, but authentic, practical And precise informations are still lacking for most of the Indian beekeepers. This manuscript is intended to provide practical information on various aspects in precised and digestible form. Various key issues have been discussed to make it very useful to every beekeeper, farmer, student, scientist, planner and policy maker.