|dc.description||Constructing top-bar hives
Since the 1960s, there have been many attempts to introduce new styles of beehive in Africa. The most successful example is the ?top-bar? hive. With this kind of hive, horizontal bars, usually made of wood, are placed along the top of a wooden box. The bars must be a certain width, so that the distance between each bar is the same as the distance between combs found in a bees nest. This distance is called the ?bee space?. Bees are encouraged to build their combs along these bars, and down, filling the box. This allows beekeepers to remove each bar and comb individually, to check it and to harvest the honey.
In Malawi, the Community Partnerships for Sustainable Resource Management project, also known as COMPASS, has introduced top-bar hive technology to rural communities, and provided training in how to make and use the hives. Patrick Mphaka visited the project to find out more.
IN: ?Malawi has since 2005 witnessed ??
OUT: ??related to the beehive construction.?
BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Nobel Moyo of the Community Partnerships for Sustainable Resource Management project in Malawi. And for more information on constructing top-bar hives, contact the Compass office, on +265 622 800. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA.
Mphaka Malawi has since 2005 witnessed a sustained campaign for an expansion of beekeeping through radio, television, newspapers, and actual trainings in various parts of the country. True to those campaigns, beekeeping is growing, as evidenced by the increased production of 200 tonnes in 2006 from a mere 60 tonnes in 2004. One of the most important factors in this increased productivity has been the introduction of the new type of beehive called the Malawi Standard Hive. This hive has standard parts and measurements. Mr. Nobel Moyo is Training Specialist working for the USAID funded project, COMPASS, which has been in the forefront of promoting beekeeping in Malawi. He explains in this interview that abiding by the measurements when constructing a Malawi Standard Hive has its advantages.
Moyo This Malawi Standard Hive measures 105cm in length and 45cm in width, and 30cm in depth and 20cm at the bottom. On top you are supposed to put what they call the top-bars, that is why sometimes it is called a top-bar hive. These top-bars are supposed to be 3.3cm in width and 50cm in length, and they are supposed to be 2.5cm again in thickness. And for each Malawi Standard Hive, you can have 30 to 31 top-bars. Those are the ones that will be used for building their combs.
Mphaka I am sure that these measurements did not just come, they were decided upon maybe in relation to the engineering of the bees when they are coming up with their combs. In such a beehive, would we know how much honey in a fruitful year one would harvest?
Moyo As we said, bees will be building their combs on those top-bars, and each standard hive is supposed to have 30 to 31 top-bars. Out of that, in a well managed beehive, you expect that 25 of the 30 top-bars would have well built combs filled with honey, whilst the remaining 5 combs would be left with brood. So a mature built comb filled with honey is supposed to weigh 2.5 kilograms of honey. So, if you have a well managed beehive, you are expected to get about 45 to 50kgs of honey.
Mphaka I understand Mr. Moyo that adhering to these measurements is also very important in the general management of the industry itself, because sometimes you transfer these top-bars from one beehive to another.
Moyo Yes, in fact the Malawi Standard Hives are advantageous because they can assist you in managing your bees or managing your hive. With the top-bars, you can easily check the status of the honey in the beehive. You can actually knock on top of the top-bars. The sound that you get from there could determine whether the honey is mature or not. The Malawi Standard Hive through the top-bars can also assist you in transferring bees from one beehive to another beehive. This system is advantageous because if the beehive is overpopulated, you can manage to transfer the bees from one beehive to another, or if you want to colonize a new beehive, you can transfer some bees from one beehive to another. And this can only be possible through the Malawi Standard Hive because you can use some combs attached to those top-bars and transfer them to a totally new beehive. So that is another advantage and this can not be done in other hives like the local hives where you can not separate the bees from one hive to the next.
Mphaka So when you have made that transfer it means that you take the other top-bars from the other empty beehive and bring them in here?
Moyo Yes. So you are exchanging.
Mphaka Thank you very much Mr. Moyo. I hope the information is going to help those who are about to start beekeeping themselves.
Moyo Thank you very much. For more details for those people who might be interested, then they can get in touch with COMPASS, or they can get a beekeeper?s handbook which has been developed by COMPASS. There are all those specifications and drawings indicated in the beekeeper?s handbook related to the beehive construction. End of track.||en_US