|dc.description||Improved hive management
Beehives come in many shapes and sizes. Traditional beehives are often made from hollowed out logs. A more modern type of beehive is the top-bar beehive, and the most sophisticated beehive is called a Langstroth beehive. This was designed by an American, the Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth, back in 1851. One of the advantages of the Langstroth hive is that the bees construct their honeycombs in frames which can be removed from the hive. This allows beekeepers to extract the honey without damaging the honeycomb, and then put the comb back into the hive. As a result, they can make more harvests each year, and get top quality honey.
However, Langstroth hives are also more difficult to make. Carpenters may need specialised equipment and training, as the measurements of the structures in the hive must be extremely accurate. Many attempts to introduce Langstroth hives in Africa, particularly among rural communities, have failed. One organisation that has had some success however, is Honey Care Africa, which not only manufactures the hives, but also trains community members in beekeeping skills. Eric Kadenge visited their workshop in Nairobi, and spoke to operations manager Margaret Mimoh about their work.
IN: ?This is the workshop, this is where ?
OUT: ?are going to a group in Mount Kenya.?
BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Margaret Mimoh, operations manager for Honey Care Africa, an organisation that promotes sustainable community beekeeping in East Africa. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA.
Mimoh This is the workshop, this is where we do the manufacture of hives and we are promoting Langstroth beehives. But when it comes to marketing, we are also helping or supporting the farmers who have different, other types of hives, through our own training, and we help them to improve on the techniques in handling the honey so that they come up with quality honey that conforms to the requirements of the market.
Kadenge Now why do you specifically concentrate or promote Langstroth beehives?
Mimoh Because we came to realise that Langstroth beehives give quality honey and also the production in Langstroth hive is a bit high as compared to the other hives. And especially it is women friendly, because the women can also take up beekeeping.
Kadenge What makes it more friendly to women?
Mimoh Because when it comes to inspections, the hives are placed on hanging stands, which are a bit lower compared to the log hives which were being placed up on top of trees and women cannot climb on top of trees to do inspections. And it is also next to the homestead, and it is very easy for women to carry out inspections.
Kadenge So take us through some of the steps that one needs to take.
Mimoh In fact what has to happen is the beekeeper has to ensure that he has the right equipment to help him manage the hives effectively. So we are talking in terms of the bee suit which is the protective clothing, and we have the smoker, we have the protective gloves and we have the gumboots. So he puts them on and goes to the hive, opening up the hive and checking inside to know what is the progress in the hive, and this will give him the indication of what to do next.
Kadenge And when it comes to observation, what do you need to observe and at what times?
Mimoh Normally inspection is done in the evening because the bees are quite cool at that particular time. So what will happen is, once the farmer goes to the hive in the evening, he has to check the strength of the colony. In that case he will also even see the laying pattern of the queen, which will give him an indication of whether the queen is active or not active. Because if the queen is not active then the laying pattern is so poorly done and the colony is so weak, so getting some good amounts of honey becomes a problem and also the building pattern of the bees becomes too slow.
Kadenge In the event that the laying patterns are poor, what would the farmer need to do?
Mimoh He will definitely know that the colony is a bit weak so he can also do the merging of the colonies or re-queening of the hive.
Kadenge Any other thing that the farmer would observe?
Mimoh If the farmer observes things like pests, he will definitely know what is the remedy I have to take or the action I have to take against this. In case of ants, crawling ants, he should definitely manage his apiary by cutting long grass. He can put also some ash or used oil around the post or modify a pond of water around the post so that the bees can use the water and the pests can drown in the water.
Kadenge Is there any other thing that you would like to add regarding management of beehives?
Mimoh If you don?t manage your hives then don?t expect a harvest. And this has been a practice that has been taken into account by most of the beekeepers who are born beekeepers. Maybe they just hang their hive, wait for six months and think that they are going to get honey out of it. But we have realised, or that is a challenge we have faced, if you don?t manage your hive very well you don?t get the honey. And you find that is why we are saying the Langstroth hive is women friendly, and the women are really doing very well. And in this case you find that they really take into account the inspections of the hive. And the moment they do that, they are really assured of the harvest and the quality of the honey they produced and the income that is going to be generated from that. You are also promoting nutrition within the families, because they get to know the value of using honey as a nutritional factor within the communities.
Kadenge So how many hives do you manufacture in this particular room in a given time?
Mimoh What I would say is that we work in partnership with non governmental organisations, community based organisations and even the government of Kenya. So what happens with the NGOs and the community groups on the ground, they would give us an order of the hives. So let?s say they have given us an order for 200 hives. We would take even two weeks to manufacture it and send it out.
Kadenge So right now we are looking at how many hives here?
Mimoh Right now we have three hundred.
Kadenge And they are destined to go where?
Mimoh About fifty of them are going to a group in Sudan and some are going to a group in western Kenya and some are going to a group in Mount Kenya. End of track.||en_US