This guide is based on the live demonstration
conducted by Mr. Vasantha Kumar at the 3rd National
Conference on Urban Gardening held in Chennai, on
25th January, 2013.
The Bee Box
To start a hive, you will need a bee box. This box can be bought
along with a starter bee colony.
The bee box is made of wood and is approximately 18 inches tall
and 12 inches wide. The box has slots on the inside where empty
wooden frames can be fitted in. There is a small window on the
bottom for the bees to enter and leave.
Keep the bee box in a cool place, like under a water tank. The box
should be slightly elevated to keep it safe from ants and predators such
You will need a smoker to operate the hive. The smoker is a device,
with bellows, filled with burning coconut husk or other natural
The smoke puts the bees into a defensive mode – they will not
attack. Don't panic if a bee sits on you. A little smoke will make it fly
Inside a new bee box will be a horizontal stack of empty frames.
The bees use these frames to build their honey combs.
This frame is completely
covered with bees. It takes
<__> days to fill a frame with
This honeycomb is full of honey. It has a natural wax seal that
prevents the honey from leaking out. To extract honey, this frame
is fitted onto a specially designed centrifuge and the honey is
Things to remember
Bees need flowering trees to produce honey – they thrive in
mango and rubber orchards. Bees need trees with varying
flowering seasons to ensure that they get pollen and nectar
throughout the year. In the Chennai area – this is a combination
of mango, moringa (drumstick), neem and sarakondrai (golden
shower tree or cassia fistula). The honey often tastes of the
flowering season. We sampled lemon honey.
Bees synthesize protein from pollen and carbohydrates from
nectar. The nectar is what makes the honey.
The queen bee needs to be constantly fed by other bees. The
queen will leave the colony if she does not get enough food –
leading to colony collapse. To prevent this, and during the nonflowering months (rainy or windy season) you need to place a
small bowl of sugar syrup outside the box at regular intervals
(once a week).
For more information, questions, clarifications
or to set up a bee hive contact:
D. Vasantha Kumar
A reStore Gardens publicationreStore Adyar Centre
No. 27/ 10, 2nd Main Rd.,
Kasturba Nagar, Adyar,
Chennai - 600020