I recently installed my two beehives! And by that I mean I oversaw the installment of my hives. In order to do this, one must climb a tree, so I enlisted a kijana (youth) to undertake this task for me. Most beekeepers over 30 enlist a kijana to do the more athletic aspect of beekeeping in Tanzania, but even though I am still in my (now late, ack!) 20's, I get special permission because I am a wimp. These hives were put up in a tree that is about a 5 minute walk from my house, on the edge of the forest.
The traditional hive--a hollowed out log that will be fastened together. The bees will build "burr" comb (what beekeepers call wild comb) attached to one side of the log. When it is time to harvest, beekeepers open the hive and cut out all of the comb, brood included.
Top bar hive. The sticker says "We should protect forests for our own development" And the picture has a beehive hanging from a tree.
The inside of the top bar hive. These are just wooden slats. The bees will build walls of comb on each of these bars. Harvesting from a hive like this, it is easier to just take honey and leave the brood. This is the type of hive that I am trying to promote because it is healthier for the bees and it should help increase honey production.
The traditional hive, fastened shut with wire. There are several holes for potential entrances, the one on the end and a few on the side.
A kijana (youth) climbed the tree to install my beehives. They are installed in trees because there are many critters in the forest who also think that honey is delicious. Monkeys are known perpetrators, and honey badgers are particularly notorious (for not giving a... : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg)
Kosma securing the top bar hive to a branch and hoisting it into the tree.
Securing the top bar hive to the tree.
Kosma getting the traditional hive ready to be hoisted up into the tree.
The kijana installing the traditional hive, the top bar hive installed.
So now that my beehives are installed, I just wait for bees to move in. If you build it, they will come. Unfortunately, bees are more likely to swarm if there is rain, and we haven't had a good rain in more than a month, so it might take a little while for the bees to move in. Considering that the hives are installed in a tree and also that African honey bees are notoriously aggressive, this makes performing hive maintenance a bit more of an ordeal. Which is probably why not a lot of people do perform hive maintenance. Most beekeepers access their hives only to take honey and only at night.
People often ask me about the Africanized honey bee--the "killer bees." Africanized bees are a hybrid of European honey bees and bees that are coincidentally from Tanzania that were accidentally released in Brazil. They are more aggressive than African bees, but African bees are still very aggressive. In fact, sadly, a man was reportedly killed by bees in Tanzania just last month.
The big months for harvesting honey begin next month until August. There will be more pictures and more news soon hopefully, once the girls find their way over to their new homes.