Insects Whose Products Are Commercially Valuable

The best-known insects in this category are the honey bee (Apis mellifera), silkworm (Bombyx mori), lac insect (Laccifer lacca), and pela wax scale (Ericerus pela).

The honey bee originally occupied the African continent, most of Europe (except the northern part), and western Asia, and within this area the usefulness of its products, honey and beeswax, has been known for many thousands of years. Though the discovery of sugar in cane (in India, about 500 B.C.) and in beet (in Europe, about 1800 A.D.) (Southwood, 1977) led to a decline in the importance of honey, it is nevertheless still a very valuable product.

Bee management was probably first carried out by the ancient Egyptians. Honey bees were brought to North America by colonists in the early l600s, and today honey and beeswax production is a billion dollar industry. In 2001 world honey production was estimated at about 1.25 million tonnes and a value of about US$4 billion. China is the world's largest honey producer, accounting for almost 20% of the total; the United States lies in third place (behind the former USSR), producing about 100,000 tonnes (with a value of about US$330 million) ( honey.htm). Beeswax is produced at the rate of about 1 kg for every 50-100 kg of honey; its value per kilogram varies between one and three times that of honey. There is a significant world trade, perhaps worth about US$10 million annually, in pollen which is used not only by beekeepers to supplement the reserves in the hive but also in the health-food industry. Other products that are collected include propolis (bee glue), venom (used to desensitize patients with severe allergies to bee stings), and royal jelly which is added to certain food supplements (Gochnauer, in Pimentel, 1991, Vol. 2).

Good bee management aims to maintain a honey bee colony under optimum conditions for maximum production. Management details vary according to the climate and customs of different geographical areas but may include (1) moving hives to locations where nectar-producing plants are plentiful, (2) artificial feeding of newly established, spring colonies with sugar syrup in order to build up colony size in time for the summer nectar flow, (3) checking that the queen is laying well and, if not, replacing her, (4) checking and treating colonies for diseases such as foulbrood and nosema, and (5) increasing the size of a hive as the colony develops, in order to prevent swarming.

Silk production has been commercially important for about 4700 years. The industry originated in East Asia and spread into Europe (France, Italy, and Spain) after eggs were smuggled from China to Italy in the sixth century A.D. The production of silk remains a labor-intensive industry, making production costs high. In 1988 world silk production totaled about 67,000 tonnes, with raw silk fetching about US$50 per kilogram. By the end of 1998, production had increased slightly, to 72,000 tonnes, though the price of raw silk had fallen to about US$26 per kilogram due to competition from cheaper synthetic fibers. China is the leading producer, with about 70% of the world total, and India has passed Japan as the world's second largest producer (Feltwell, 1990;

The lac insect is a scale insect endemic to India and Southeast Asia that secretes about itself a coating of lac, which may be more than 1 cm thick. The twigs on which the insects rest are collected and either used to spread the insects to new areas or ground up and heated

How To Become A Bee Keeping Pro

How To Become A Bee Keeping Pro

Companies that have beekeeping stuff deal with all the equipment that is required for this business, like attire for bee keeping which is essential from head to torso, full body suits and just head gear. Along with this equipment they also sell journals and books on beekeeping to help people to understand this field better. Some of the better known beekeeping companies have been in the business for more than a hundred years.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment