Apiculture is intrinsically related to agriculture, as it can be grown/adapted with a variety of agricultural crops such as mustard, buckwheat, cucurbits, vegetables and several fruit varieties. Among the fruits banana, citrus, guava, ber, mango, cashewnut, mallus, pyrus, prunus etc normally provide both nectar and pollen, for increasing overall production and productivity through cross pollination. The social insect belongs to the genus Apis and has four important species viz, A. dorsata, A.florea, A. indica and A. mellifera. The various species of honey bees have been commonly known as different types with specific names because of their size, habitat and nature.
The species A.dorsata (giant bee or rock bee) is usually found all over Indian the plains as well as hills (1200-1500 mts asl) They usually built a single comb which remains suspended from rocks, ceilings, branches of trees such as banyan, peepul, silk cotton and mango etc. They are very efficient honey collectors and are sensitive to smoke.
The species A. florae (little bee) is available in the plains area upto about 500 mts asl. The colonies are shifting places frequently They usually built a single comb which remains suspended from branches of bushes, hedges of trees, piles of dried sticks, house chimney etc. Honey produced by these bees is believed to have medicinal qualities.
A. indica (Indian honey bee) is found throughout India including Hills and Plains areas. However the hills and plain varieties of this species are recognized as two distinct strains or varieties. This bee forms combs in the cavities of tree trunks or rocks and such other common closed or covered places. It is also industrious and a good gatherer of honey.
A.mellifera (European bee) is commonly all over Europe and this has been used in some places of India for crossbreeding with Apis indica.
There are some other species of honey bees that are commonly found in different parts of India belonging to Mellipona species and Trigona species, which are commonly known as dammar bees. They are the smallest of the honey yielding bees.
In addition to sericulture and beekeeping there are about 40,000 insect collections out of which about 900 have been identified, the remaining are in the process of cataloging and identification.