Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (5) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Adoption and constraints of beekeeping in District Panchkula (Haryana), India

K Monga and A Manocha

Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Panchkula (Haryana) India   ;


Promoting diversification in agriculture through apiculture could provide both food, nutritional, medicinal and livelihood security to the rural work force on an ecologically sustainable basis. It is therefore, necessary to promote beekeeping in India. The present investigation was carried out in Panchkula district of Haryana state in India and respondents included a group of 30 beekeepers who were still in the occupation of beekeeping and another group 30 beekeepers comprised of respondents who had left the occupation of beekeeping for one or the other reason. A pre-tested interview schedule was used to delineate the ecological factors affecting beekeepers for continuing in the occupation and to assess the constraints faced by them. 


The results revealed that the respondents, who were young, educated and had more exposure to mass media continued with the profession. It was also revealed that respondents from joint families or with more members continued with the profession since the venture seemed more profitable because of saving of expenditure for hiring labour from outside. Further, the respondents who adopted beekeeping as a subsidiary occupation, at least in the beginning, were more successful as they had the capacity to offset the losses, if any, during the initial phase.

The major constraints listed by the respondents during the survey were  honeybee pests and diseases, shortage of bee forage necessitating migration to areas where bee forage was available, credit facility for starting the vocation and to offset the losses due to pests and diseases, management of bee colonies in extreme weather conditions, pesticide poisoning and lack of subsidiary occupation as in other developing countries. Lack of cooperatives and institutional support for marketing, lack of motivation, lack of skilled manpower and training institutions were other constraints felt by few beekeepers.

Key words: apiculture, honeybees


Beekeeping offers an immense potential for providing employment to rural folk in India where many evergreen and moist deciduous forests, orchards etc. constitute good beekeeping areas. The unique feature of beekeeping is that the capital investment required is small and unlike many other industries, it does not need raw material in usual sense as nature offers the same in the form of nectar and pollen. Beekeeping is a very fascinating occupation. It can be practiced equally by men, women, grown up children and even by physically handicapped and old persons. The investment required is low, and the economic returns are comparatively very high. Beekeeping does not bring any pressure on agricultural land. It produces honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis from the flowers which otherwise dry up in nature and go waste. Beekeeping is an agricultural and forest based decentralized industry and does not displace persons from their villages. If conditions are favourable, level of beekeeping can be increased to semi-commercial or commercial level. 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 a subsidiary, complementary, supplementary and a family business enterprise which is pollution free.  

Ninety percent pollination in agricultural crops in the world is being carried out by the bees only, and in its absence, the total production in agricultural crops and fruits will be reduced to one fourth. (Jain et al 1987,  Vaidya et al 1993). Honey bees through pollination increase agricultural production and enhance sustainability of agriculture. Honey bees during foraging for pollen and nectar from flowers of different plant species enhance agricultural productivity to the tune of 30–80% annually through cross-pollination (Singh 2000). It is estimated that India has 50 million hectares under cross pollinated crops that are benefited by honey bees pollination, 3 to 9 bee colonies depending on 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. (Singh et al 2006). 


Promoting diversification in agriculture through apiculture could provide both food, nutritional, medicinal and livelihood security to the rural work force on an ecologically sustainable basis. Sustainable food security means providing balanced diet including the needed micronutrients. Honey harvesting by smoking away the honeybees and squeezing out their combs for honey has been traditional in India for last several thousand years. Honey has been traditionally used in various diet preparations, medicines, cosmetics, ointments and house-hold items. Honeybee apiaries, thus, prove of great value in terms of food and medicinal security. Honeybees produce wax which is very costly and is quite frequently used in industries. Wax is used in the preparation of cosmetics, boot polish and water-proof paints. Candles are made out of wax and are thus used for the purpose of beautification. Propolis has antiseptic and anesthetic properties and is commonly used as an ingredient in medicines, toothpastes, oral sprays and chewing gums, and in shampoos, soap, skin ointments and cosmetics. It is most commonly sold as a tincture of propolis made by dissolving it in alcohol. Propolis was used in healing the wounds of the wounded soldiers during the two world wars It is, therefore, considered necessary to promote and develop beekeeping industry in India for breakthrough in agricultural production, self-employment generation and socio-economic upliftment in rural areas. However, for the effective popularization of apiculture in the farming communities, the adoption of apiculture and constraints to the adoption of same have to be evaluated which will help in determining the type of extension strategy/package to be adopted. This study is therefore, a step towards this direction.  



The sample of the study was drawn from Barwala Block of Panchkula district of Haryana State. A list of villages falling in the block was procured from the B.D.O office. From that list another list of villages where the vocation of beekeeping is taken up by the community was made and randomly three villages were selected.  



Two types of sample groups were drawn from each village randomly to delineate the ecological factors that prevented beekeepers for continuing in the occupation and to assess the constraints faced by them. One group categorized as Active (30 respondents) included the beekeepers who were still in the occupation of beekeeping and another group categorized as Not Active (30 respondents) comprised of respondents who had left the occupation of beekeeping for one or the other reason. 


Data Collection

A pre-tested interview schedule was used to find out the problems faced by bee-keepers and the reasons or constraints faced because of which they had left the occupation of beekeeping. Data was also collected on ecological profile of the respondents so as to delineate the socio-personal and economic factors that led to leaving the occupation of beekeeping, if any. 

Results and Discussion

The background information of the respondents was collected to determine the extent of their role and contribution in starting and continuing the enterprise of beekeeping. The ecological profile and contextual matrix of responses of both the sample groups is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Ecological Profile and Contextual matrix of Active and Non Active Group of beekeepers



Active  Group

N = 30

Non Active Group

N= 30


N= 60







30 (100)

30 (100)

60 (100)










25-35 yrs.

20 (55.5)

16 (44.5)

36 (60.0)

35-45 yrs.

06 (42.8)

08 (57.2)

14 (23.4)

45-55 yrs.

04 (40.0)

06 (60.0)

10 (16.6)







01 (33.3)

02 (66.6)

03 (05.0)


03 (27.2)

08 (72.8)

11 (18.4)


07 (33.3)

14 (66.6)

21 (35.0)


19 (76.0)

06 (24.0)

25 (41.6)


Type of Family





20 (43.3)

26 (56.7)

46 (76.6)


10 (71.4)

04 (28.6)

14 (23.4)


Size of Family





15 (38.5)

24 (61.5)

39 (65.0)


05 (62.5)

03 (37.5)

08 (13.3)


10 (76.6)

03 (23.4)

13 (21.7)


Subsidiary Occupation





15 (71.4)

06 (28.6)

21 (35.0)


09 (69.3)

04 (30.7)

13 (21.6)


03 (42.8)

04 (57.2)

07 (11.6)


03 (15.2)

16 (84.8)

19 (31.8)


Land Holding





00 (0)

26 (100)

26 (43.3)

< 2 acres

13 (100)

00 (0)

13 (21.6)

2-5 acres

09 (81.8)

02 (18.2)

11 (18.3)

> 5 acres

08 (80.0)

02 (20.0)

10 (16.8)


Mass Media Exposure




Audio-visual aids

28 (50.9)

27 (49.1)


Print material

20 (74.7)

07 (25.3)


Melas /fairs

10 (62.5)

06 (37.5)



Source of Training





17 (54.8)

14 (45.2)

31 (51.6)

Other beekeepers

13 (44.8)

16 (55.2)

29 (48.4)

The data revealed that the males of younger age group came forward to adopt bee keeping as compared to the respondents of older age category indicating that the respondents of younger age group are more innovative and responsive to new vocations. Furthermore, the respondents of younger age group were active in the profession of beekeeping and did not leave the profession perhaps because of liberal and risk taking attitude towards new ventures and more mobility which is required during migration to other areas. Similarly more respondents who were educated ventured and continued with the profession. The possible reasons for continuity in the profession might be better understanding during trainings and access to literature. Family being the most important unit of social organization not only serves as an important agent for socialization, but provides base for economic upliftment as well. It may further be inferred from Table 1 that majority of respondents belonged to nuclear family but respondents from joint families or with more members were active and continued with the profession since the venture seemed more profitable due to availability of more hands to look after the colonies including women and children and saving of expenditure for hiring labour from outside. Another reason which came out during discussion was family support system, when one or the other member of the family stayed away during migration with bee colonies since there were other members available to support the family. Regarding the subsidiary occupation followed by the respondents other than beekeeping, the data revealed that about one third respondents  were labourers whereas others  had agriculture or  some sort of small business like shop, Khokha (Wooden Shed) or Rehri (Wheel cart) etc. to earn the means of livelihood. Possession of land is a precious and secure resource and property which influences the social and economic status of a person. Nearly half of the respondents were landless who installed their beekeeping units on the farm of others as this enterprise does not require owning of land.  More beekeepers that had some subsidiary occupation along with beekeeping like Agriculture (72%), Business (69%) and Service (43%) and having better economic status as indicated by possession of land or other means of livelihood, at least in the beginning, could continue with the vocation of beekeeping as they could survive the initial problems encountered during adoption of vocation of beekeeping and had the capacity to offset the losses during the initial phase. Similar results were reported by Ja’afar-Furo (2007) on constraints and prospects for apiculture research and development in Adamawa State, Nigeria which appraised the perception of members of urban and rural farming communities towards adoption of apiculture as a very profitable farming system. Opinions from 160 respondents showed that a larger percentage (46.25%) of the farming communities would rather adopt apiculture as a sideline economic activity; the majority reported the stinging propensity of the bees as the major constraint to adoption of the farming system. 


Mass media plays a crucial role in spreading information related to innovations and technologies. Multiple responses were received as respondents had access to audio-visual aids, print material and other means Data revealed that nearly all respondents had T.V or radio irrespective of the fact that they watched some educational programme or not. With regards to print material, it was found that it was accessible to lesser population followed by even lesser exposure through melas and fairs etc. Multiple responses were received for the source from which the respondents undertook training. As many as 68.3% respondents   had taken training from Government source or some other Non Government organisation involved in training farmers. Some private companies from the adjoining hill state of Himachal Pradesh are also actively involved in the work of training farmers for beekeeping. Also, bee keepers from Himachal Pradesh migrate to the fruit orchards in Panchkula district for honey as well as for rearing queen bees and employ local labour which indirectly provides them with informal training. Nearly all the respondents from both the sample groups took informal training while working with some other bee-keepers.  


Data collected on number of years spent in the occupation revealed that more than 70% of the respondents left the occupation of beekeeping within 5 years and those who sustained the initial losses or had some other source of livelihood to make up the losses continued with beekeeping. Most of the respondents in both the groups started with 5-10 boxes. During lean season, the bee-keepers had to migrate up to a distance of 200 km. two to three times in a year. Regarding marketing of honey, the results revealed that the majority of the respondents were selling the honey only to firms and were not selling other by-products of honey. Queen multiplication was practised by only a few bee-keepers. In case of any problem, most of the bee-keepers relied upon their bee-keeper friends. 


Regarding constraints faced by the beekeepers who are continuing with the profession and those who have left it within 5 yrs, multiple responses were received and are listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Constraints of apiculture (Multiple Responses)






Honey bee pests and diseases








Shortage of bee forage




Financial problems




Management during extreme weather conditions




Pesticides poisoning




No other subsidiary occupation




Marketing problem




Lack of motivation




Lack of skilled manpower and training institutions



The majority of respondents (86.7%) listed attack of honeybee pests and diseases as a major constraint wherein the colonies are destroyed during heavy infestations and it becomes difficult for them to replenish the colonies (due to financial constraints) and to bring the number of bee colonies back to the level where the activity is economically viable. Shortage of bee forage which necessitates migration to other areas where forage is available was listed as other major constraints by 78.4% and 81.8% of the respondents respectively. The problem of frequent migration and the associated problems of taking care of family responsibilities during periods of absence due to shortage of bee forage were felt more by respondents having nuclear and small and medium sized families. Seventy percent of the respondents listed availability of finance as another major constraint at the time of starting the profession and later on to offset the losses during periods of heavy infestation of pests and diseases. Management of colonies during extreme weather conditions and pesticide poisoning were some of other constraints experienced by 58.3% and 51.7% of the respondents. About half of the respondents (51.7%) listed absence of any other subsidiary occupation as another constraint as the subsidiary occupation acts as a cushion to off set the losses and provides the family with some economic security during adverse circumstances. Marketing of honey and other bee products was felt as another constraint by 46.7% of the respondents. It was felt that due to absence of any cooperatives and institutional support for cleaning, packing and marketing in the nearby area, the bee keepers have no option than to sell their honey to wholesalers at very low prices which reduces their margin. Lack of motivation and lack of skilled manpower and training institutions were felt as constraints only by few respondents viz. 30 % and 28.3% respectively.Preez-Sato et al (2009) too corroborating the results revealed that diseases and pests are common problems faced by beekeepers all over the world. In India, the wax moth and Varroa are serious problems in the native and exotic honey bee colonies.  Asrani et al (2007), in a study on prospects of beekeeping in Haryana and related needs, constraints and enablers pointed out technical constraints as the major constraints faced by respondents. However, considerable numbers of respondents were interestedto undertake training and start beekeeping as an enterprise. Phadke (2008) listed excessive use of pesticides and absence of forage during other months coupled with excessive heat of summer as constraints in the development of beekeeping on agricultural plains in India. 


 FAO paper 19 published in 2009 broadly categorized the nature of constraints faced by beekeepers in developing countries as biological, technical, trade and institutional. Biological constraints include the introduction of exotic species and races of honeybees, honeybee diseases, predators and parasites, the loss of indigenous species and habitat diversity, and problems arising because of pesticides use. Technical constraints concern lack of knowledge of appropriate methods for managing tropical bee races and species, lack of appropriately skilled trainers, materials and training possibilities, and lack of dissemination of new research information, especially relating to disease control. Trade constraints faced by producer groups include problems arising because of the remoteness of producers from suppliers, traders and technical advisers, the often-small volumes of products, and difficulties of obtaining pre-finance for honey purchase, packaging and marketing. Institutional constraints include the weakness of producer organizations, and lack of resources (personnel, laboratories) to support the industry: to analyze products, certify for export, identify bees and their diseases and parasites. Further, there is a lack of policies that protect the industry and prevent the introduction of bees’ diseases and parasites. Infrastructure to monitor, certify and enable trade in honey and beeswax is also lacking in the majority of developing countries. 


Pokhrel (2008) identified predators, parasites, diseases, pesticide poisoning, and bee pasture as the key ecological problems in the hills and deforestation and pesticide poisoning as the concerned ecological problems in Terai regarding beekeeping in Chitwan in Nepal.Bellie (2009), in a study of constraints and opportunities in Burie District of Amhara Region, Ethiopia listed lack of beekeeping equipment, chemical poisoning by pesticide and herbicide application, shortage of bee forage, drought, knowledge and skill gap as  major constraints in beekeeping development in order of their importance. Ejigu  et al (2009) pointed out shortage of bee forage, pesticides poisoning, lack of skilled manpower and training institutions, low level of technology used ,honeybee pest and diseases ,shortage of bee colony, marketing problems and absence of policy in apiculture  as major constraints in a study conducted in Amhara Distt (Ethiopia) in addition to other  technical constraints like poor extension systems (absence of coordination between research, extension and farmers), lack of credit service, shortage of records and up-to- date information, shortage of reading materials regarding  beekeeping, and lack of research stations to address the problems related to apiculture .Gidey and Mekonen (2010)  have identified the major constraints affecting honey and beeswax production in Tigray regional state, Ethiopia. These constraints include inadequate availability of production technologies, limited beekeeping knowledge, limited availability of vegetation, limited training and technical assistance in beekeeping and honey marketing. Lack of proper bee management and marketing facilities are also problems facing the honey sub sector in the region. These constraints are further aggravated by inadequate extension coverage, lack of special skills and research undertaking in the beekeeping sector. Because of these and other related factors, the region and the rural beekeeping households have not sufficiently benefited from the honey sub sector.Ebojei et al (2008) in a study of Kaduna State in Nigeria reported the constraints to beekeeping in the study area mentioned by bee farmers as pest attack, lack of finance, poor storage, deforestation, inadequate beekeeping equipment and theft. 


It can, thus, be concluded that the major constraints faced by beekeepers in Panchkula District of Haryana state in India are honeybee pests and diseases, shortage of bee forage necessitating migration to areas where bee forage is available, credit facility for starting the vocation and to offset the losses due to pests and diseases, management of bee colonies in extreme weather conditions, pesticide poisoning and lack of subsidiary occupation as in other developing countries. Lack of cooperatives and institutional support for marketing, lack of motivation, lack of skilled manpower and training institutions were other constraints felt by beekeepers. 


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Received 8 August 2010; Accepted 18 March 2011; Published 1 May 2011

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