Special Features of Beekeeping in the Subtropics and Tropics

The subtropics (between 23.5° and 34°N, and 23.5° and 34°S) include some of the most valuable world regions for honey production. Like the temperate zones, they have an annual cycle with a distinct seasonal rhythm and a well-marked summer and winter; however, the climate is warmer and the winters are mild, so the bees can fly year-round. All the major honey-exporting countries include a belt within these subtropical latitudes: China, Mexico, Argentina, and Australia.

Between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (23.5°N and S), the situation is different. The seasons (and honey bee colonies) undergo two cycles in the year because the noonday sun is overhead twice a year. So colonies do not generally grow as large as at higher latitudes, nor do they store as much honey. When forage becomes scarce, a colony may cease brood rearing, then fly as a unit to a nearby area where plants are coming into bloom; this flight is referred to as absconding or migration. So one beekeeper may lose colonies, while beekeepers in the other area put out bait hives to receive the swarms.

Beekeeping in the tropics using traditional hives has been well studied, and many development programs have been carried out to introduce more advanced methods. Francis Smith pioneered successful movable-frame hive beekeeping in tropical Africa.

In the tropics, bee diseases are of less importance than at higher latitudes, but bees in torrid zones may be subject to attack by more enemies, certain birds, mammals, and insects. Tropical honey bees therefore defend their nests more vigorously than temperate-zone honey bees. For instance, tropical African honey bees (A. mellifera) are easily alerted to sting and, as a result of rapid pheromone communication between individuals, they may attack en masse. People in tropical Africa have grown up with the bees and are accustomed to them. But after 1957, when some escaped following introduction to the South American tropics, they spread into areas where the inhabitants had known only the more gentle European bees, and those from tropical Africa were given the name "killer bees." But once beekeepers in South America had learned how to handle the new bees, they obtained much higher honey yields than from the European bees used earlier.

Bee Keeping

Bee Keeping

Make money with honey How to be a Beekeeper. Beekeeping can be a fascinating hobby or you can turn it into a lucrative business. The choice is yours. You need to know some basics to help you get started. The equipment needed to be a beekeeper. Where can you find the equipment you need? The best location for the hives. You can't just put bees in any spot. What needs to be considered when picking the location for your bees?

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