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Bees of India
Honey Bee biodiversity is rich in Southeast Asia. Rock bees are the largest honey bee species in the world. Two different species of rock bees (Apis dorsata and Apis laboriosa) are found in India. Nearly half of Indian honey production is coming from rock bees. Rock bees are called key stone species in the forest ecosystem as they play a crucial role in the conservation of certain forest flora and fauna. Some interesting facts about rock bee family and their nesting behavior are presented below.
Nesting behavior of rock bees
Rock bees usually nest on the thick limbs of tall trees or on building structures. Sometimes they are forced to build their nest closer to ground. Lack of suitable nesting sites in a locality is the main cause for such nesting behavior.
Nesting on coconut tree front
The bees have selected the lower most branch of a small growing coconut palm for building their single comb. Hence the comb has become so close to the ground. Such nests are easily disturbed by honey hunters for the purpose of robbing honey. When people disturb the front unknowingly sever stinging episode may result.
Nest on coconut tree trunk
Usually the comb of the rock bee stretches out horizontally. This is a rare way of building nest. As no tall trees are available in the vicinity, the bees selected the main trunk of the tree for attaching the comb in a vertical fashion. The comb was cut intact with bees and brought to lab and hived in an open box. The bees stayed in their home for six weeks only and later deserted. Efforts taken to domesticate the bees, all over the rock bee regions of the world failed so far. Our effort also ended in failure.
- Rock bee queen is darker in color.
- Her abdomen is not swollen greatly. It is slightly bigger than the worker bee.
- The queen bee is reared in special sunken queen cells constructed along the lower comb border.
- The queen can fly out from the comb at any time, when there is a danger.
- Capturing the rock bee queen is not an easy job as she is hiding inside the bee curtain. Use of special smoke generated by using coir pith and chicken feather instantaneously drive out the bees which sometimes exposes the queen.
- Drones are seasonal residents.
- They are produced during swarming season.
- They originate from both queen laid and worker laid eggs.
- The bizarre shaped penis of the drone is everted our when his abdomen is gently pressed.
- Though drones do not contribute for the colony labour their presence is essential for colony survival.
- The color of the worker is reddish brown.
- The transparent wings have a smoky tinge.
- The worker bee is sipping nectar from a weed plant (Leucas aspera ). Normally worker bee does not sting when disturbed while foraging.