What’s the Buzz?

June 3, 2020

Humanity is celebrating weeklong Bee Week (from May 20 onwards), to spread awareness regarding the significance of bees and other pollinators, involved, in securing the global food security.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed World Bee Day on December 20. However, this year, May 20 was selected as World Bee Day, as it marks the birth of Anton Jansa, the father of modern beekeeping techniques and one of the pioneers of apiculture on a global scale. More than 20,000 species of bees, organized into seven families, are known to exist in the world. Bees act as crucial links in maintaining the ecosystem resilience, food security and global biodiversity. This article highlights the role of honey bees as pollinators. India can boast of being a centre of origin of the world's honeybee species. Out of the five honey-producing bee species, four have occurred in India since ancient times.

We often confuse the term apiculturist and beekeeper when we speak about honeybees. Apiculturist is a beekeeper while beekeeper is a person who maintains hives and keeps bees, especially for the production of honey.

A few years back, we attended an agri-exhibition at Kadri Park and were surprised, yet thrilled to find apiculturists displaying bee boxes with live colonies of honey bees, and other equipment related to the safekeeping of honeybees. The majority of visitors to these stalls were youngsters, and also students from primary and high school. What a wonderful way of introducing young minds to the world of pollinators!


There is overwhelming evidence provided by scientists worldwide, on the significant role played by insect pollinators, mainly honey bees, in enhancing crop production and conservation of biological diversity. One in three bites of food we eat is dependent on honey bees for pollination. Honey bees pollinate 90 % of the crops (vegetables, oilseeds, fruits) that provide the world’s food security.

However, the importance extends beyond, in terms of pollinating wild fruit trees, herbs, shrubs and vegetables which enable biodiversity to flourish. Honey bees are also responsible for increased yields and superior quality crops. The worldwide economic value of the pollination service provided by biological pollinators is in the range of 300 to 550 billion US Dollars. Honeybees contribute between USD 65 and 70 billion annually.

Honey Bee species

Five species of bees of commercial importance are found in India; Apisdorsata (Rock bee) (and a larger Himalayan subspecies, Apisdorsatalaboriosa), Apisceranaindica (Indian hive bee), Apisflorea (dwarf bee), Apismellifera (European or Italian bee), and Tetragonulairidipennis (Dammer or stingless bee).


Scientific research first reported massive die-offs of honey bee colonies in the early 1990s. But the alarm bells did not buzz until the summer of 2008 when apiculturists, world-wide started reporting of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (that kills about 1 in every 3 honeybees each year) responsible for wiping out significant bee populations throughout the globe.


Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors – Pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air & water pollution, global warming and so forth.

How to overcome loss

To combat the massive die-off of wild honey bee colonies, across the globe, modern horticulture and agriculture practices use managed honey bees (domestic) as a replacement to provide the much-needed pollination services to enhance cross- pollination. But many are unaware that a large body of peer- reviewed research, supports the view that managed or introduced honey bees are spreading diseases to wild bees and also stressing out the remaining viable population of other wild insect pollinators.

How You and I Can Safeguard Honey Bees

• Plant nectar-bearing flowers on balconies, terraces and gardens.
• Place a bee box in your backyard
• Buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers
• Just say no to pesticides and herbicides (ideally, pick flowers that are native to your area and will bloom at different times of the year. Put a shallow container of water in your garden so that the bees have a place to re-hydrate )

• Keep a small patch of land for weeds to grow in your backyard. It provides a safe natural habitat.
• Buy honey from local beekeepers.
• Start a beekeeping club in schools/colleges
• Introduce flowering trees and fruit trees which provide flowers all the year-round
• Avoid the use of indiscriminate chemical sprays
• Avoid the introduction of genetically modified crops
• Try practicing extensive farming rather than intensive farming which puts undue pressure on the land.
• Employ urban beekeeping as a corporate sustainability initiative.
• Start getting curious about honey bees…Read and update your knowledge.


Honey has been used since ancient times as both a food and medicine.
Used commercially for food, skin creams, anti-ageing lotions, and medicinal wound dressings.


Beeswax and pollen are also produced by these insects and are used in lip balm and other cosmetic products. Propolis, a resinous sealant created by bees to construct their hives, serves as a varnish for stringed musical instruments, and in some countries serves as toothpaste or mouthwash.


As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonne. The US is the largest importer of honey in the global market and also a top destination for Indian honey. Honey exports from India in 2018-19 was to the tune of $105 million. Punjab, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among the leading honey- producing states in India.


We would like to highlight two important concerns.

Honey bees are the most economically valuable pollinators worldwide. From the standpoint of the stability of world food production, honey bees are of principal importance. Safeguarding honeybees is akin to safeguarding the human race from hunger.

Beekeeping is practiced around the world and can provide a valuable source of income to people in developing regions with relatively little investment. Setting up a few bee boxes does not require a large amount of space and can be accommodated on small raised platforms.



By Dr Anand, Geeta N Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • Ophelia Lazarus, PUNE / OMAN

    Fri, Jun 05 2020

    Dear Dr. Anand & Geeta N Pereira,
    Thank you for this well articulated and informative article on Bees
    As always it's a pleasure to read through your articles as it has so much in depth knowledge that captivates us and gives us a deep insight on the importance that flora and fauna play in creating a balanced life.
    Your passion as an environmentalist in saving Mother Earth is so evident in the relentlessness pursuit in spreading awareness among the people. So many of us have been greatly influenced by your articles and have been making a conscious effort to do our bit to save planet earth.
    Please continue to share the vast knowledge that you and Geeta have so more people are made aware of how important it is to save our planet for the future generations.
    God bless both of you in your future endeavours.
    Ps: I am still holding on to that invitation to visit both of you and see your amazing coffee estate.

  • Venkataraman Shenoy, Mangaluru

    Fri, Jun 05 2020

    The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.-Elizabeth Lawrence...Appreciate you for bringing this topic up with a informative write-up... Bees are extremely important for pollination/cross pollination without which we would face fruit/vegetable extinction...its about time the society at large think about the drastically declining bee population and take urgent steps to arrest it... Once again kudos for the wonderful article...

  • Ivan Frank, MANGALURU

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    What would have been without the Buzz or the Bees. Probably you and I wouldn't have been here. And yet we take the Bees for granted little realising that if they go extinct we will all loose the plant's and all the animals who survive on the plants and the food chain would be completely destroyed. Gone are the days when every house had a garden and one could watch the the bees flying around the flowers. Now we can hardly see any greenery but only concrete structures. Most of today's generation see the bees in the pictures or Television. It is not enough to remember the bees on the bee day and then forget the bees for the next 365 days. Your article is an eye opener to each and everyone one of us. It is definitely a gift to the children where they can know A to Z about bees under one heading what's the buzz.

  • Rakesh, Sakleshpur

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Thank you for reminding that bees are an important part of coffee plantations & other crops through this article. We can hardly identify the colonies in the wild as they are extensively killed during the insecticides used by us. In most countries the insecticides contain a small info. saying if it is BEE SAFE or not. Such an info. on the lable could save thousands of bee colonies.

  • Roshan, Mangalore / Abu Dhabi

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Thanks for your good article with more information

  • Nihal Joseph, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    The beehive is a perfect hexagon to store maximum amount of honey. This indeed is a feat of engineering by honey bees. Today, man is replacing natural beehives with plastic membraned beehives. A carbon copy of the natural beehives and try to increase the honey supply through Managed or domestic bees. This can cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem because it drive's away the native pollinators.

  • Rekha, Kodagu/Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    My favourite topic. My dad had a small apiary. As a child i used to accompany him to harvest and help in turning the small drum to extract honey. I used to relish the honey from the wax crumbs .Thanx for sharing and educating the public. Very informative indeed. By the way where can I get pure honey?( coorg is not reachable now )

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    All your articles are so very informative.
    One can could see 'Honey' virtually drip from this one ! Be (e) at it !

  • Payal Ruth, Mangalore/USA

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Nice article. Supermarkets are flooded with cheap imports of honey into the US. from a number of countries. It is difficult to know if the honey is genuine or adulterated with synthetic syrup. We definitely need to be proactive in safeguarding the bees, in our own interest. As Einstein said, if the bees perish, Mankind will live just for 5 year's.

  • Vinay Bellur, Sakleshpur

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Nice article 👍.
    From the past 3 years I and my wife Surabhi have learnt the art of bee keeping and still learning.
    We have 5 bee boxes and are planning to expand slowly.
    This article is definitely a thing to keep in my library.
    Thank you so much again,

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Thank you Dr Anand, Geeta N Pereira for the wonderful article.

    Great presentation on bees, one of nature's most amazing creatures.

    It was good too to read about fake honey and the info on 'home lab' to check if honey is real or fake.

    I gather that fake honey is sold all over the world. I guess if the price is at the lower end, it most likely is fake honey.

  • Allen Pais, Brisbane

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Dear Dr Anand & Geeta N Pereira.

    During this century of computer science and Google, the common mans mind is emphasizing on food & socializing ,entertainment,comfort,etc.

    We forget the value of nature that is the number one contributor towards the above luxurious necessaries , time and again you both work hard to create awareness among the common man who takes a while to understand the importance.

    Common Man-Meaning all human beings.

    I salute you both for this lovely article.

    God Bless you both.

    The API Family ,Brisbane.

  • Peter Pais, Mangalore / Muscat

    Thu, Jun 04 2020

    Dear Anand
    Extremely informative article regarding honey and the bees. Pollination is of paramount importance and we appreciate you highlighting the simple steps one can take, to keep such important activities alive. Very relevant in todays world, to know the difference between pure and fake honey. Thank you Anand for all the tips !! Your passion & enthusiasm for nature, knows no bounds !! May God bless Geeta and you abundantly in all your endeavors !!

  • Loy Lobo, Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Jun 03 2020

    Dear Dr. Anand,
    Truly an enlightening article. Detailing is superb. Really appreciate your love for nature. May we also be inspired, especially the younger generation who would be following you, hope and pray they are the guardians of nature. Take care and look forward to more of your articles.

  • Anil Dsouza, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 03 2020

    The Buzz is all out preserving nature to protect the human race. Bee pollination is important both ecologically and commercially, Time n again Geetha n Anand have show us the way by preserving nature we can improve our quality of life and heal the world.

  • Sudhir, Mangalore/Muscat

    Wed, Jun 03 2020

    Dear Dr. Anand & Geeta Pereira,
    as always your articles are well researched, informative & educative.
    Be it Coffee, Birds, Animals, Flowers, plants, Trees technology or the Bees, your knowledge, your research and the passion to spread awareness & teach those who are interested or getting one interested in the above is amazing! I had the good fortune to spend time with you, to hear you speak on the above with so much of passion, was mind blowing . I can't thank enough Mr.Allen Pai's for that short trip to your place.
    May God Bless you to write more & to make people aware of the dangers we are causing to the environment & the future.
    Hoping to read more, &, God willing to meet & listen to you!
    Keep BUZZING!

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