Honey bees—Specialty Crop Profile
There are several bee species that are cultivated for their products and pollination services but the most widely used species is the honey bee, Apis mellifera. In Hawai‘i and in the Pacific, there is a great potential for beekeeping at all scales. Rural areas in the Pacific are ideal for supporting beekeeping activities because of the abundant year round floral sources that can provide enough honey for family and/or community needs with the possibility of additional income from the selling surplus honey.
The most well known and utilized of the harvestable products from honey bees is honey. Honey can be consumed as soon as it is harvested from the hive (or stored for later use) or it can be used to make a variety of value-added food products such as desserts, dressings, and mead. Honey can also be used as an ingredient in other value-added products such as cosmetics and health supplements. Other harvestable products derived from honey bee cultivation include: pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly, venom, packaged bees, and queen bees. Products such as pollen and royal jelly can be consumed in their natural state from the hive but are usually mixed with other ingredients to produce medicinal or health supplements. Other raw products such as propolis and wax need to be processed into a more stable or usable form and then used for a variety of value-added products including cosmetics, candles, and medicinal ointments or tinctures. Venom is a specialized product with a limited medicinal market. Queen bee and package bee producers are specialized beekeepers that utilize their hives for the purpose of producing bees for sale.
Pollination services are an important source of beekeeper income, especially on the U.S. mainland. This is an essential service to ensure maximum fruit yields, especially for large monocrops (e.g., almonds, oranges, apples, watermelon). In Hawai‘i and in the Pacific, beekeepers often negotiate a trade for land use in exchange for pollination services. Pollination services performed by honey bees make them an essential component on agricultural lands as well as in local ecosystems that are dependent on insect pollinators. This introduction was excerpted from the full 19-page publication: Tsutsumi, L.H, and D.E. Oishi. 2010. Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing Profile for Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). In: Elevitch, C.R. (ed.). Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry. Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR), Holualoa, Hawai'i.
Original source of this article
This article is excerpted by permission of the publisher from
Tsutsumi, L.H., and D.E. Oishi. 2011. Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). In: Elevitch, C.R. (ed.). Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry. Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR), Holualoa, Hawai‘i. © Permanent Agriculture Resources.