Making new homes for honeybees

Earlier this year we held training sessions to teach the beekeepers of co-operatives The Apiary works with. Twenty-eight beekeepers in our train-the-trainer training programme attended a course on how to make a beehive system, or design, commonly known as the Kenyan top-bar hives. Top-bar hives (TBH) provide honeybees with a good home – a nesting structure – to protect them from the weather such as rain and varying temperatures, intruders and other predators. Happy bees equals healthy colonies and good honey! 

The training, held in adherence to COVID-19 regulations and conducted by an international TBH expert, comprised practical and theory in making and maintain the hives, and hive and apiary hygiene. Learning how to make TBH gives the beekeepers a new skill and, importantly, using these ‘modern design technology’ hives enlarges their number of beehives and honey production. So why learn to make TBH and not use other types of beehives?

Here are a few practical reasons: Firstly, using TBH increases honey production by reducing the number of inefficient and less productive traditional hives which are typically made from holed-out logs or by binding leaves and pieces of wood.  Secondly, these hives are low cost to the beekeepers as local wood and resources are used for construction. And lastly, but critically, the impoverished beekeepers do not have to buy or be dependent on donations for the expensive and imported hive systems. TBH also open an added source of income from beeswax (top-bar hives yield more wax); and other opportunities for the community such as beehives making and other cottage industry.

At the end of the two-day training, the beekeepers received a certificate of skills training and off they went to train and teach their fellow beekeepers at their co-operative how to make the hives!

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