Bees are insects which live in very well organised colonies.
Each colony consists of:
Queens - fertile females that breed to ensure the continuity of the species.
Drones - fertile males that mate with the queen for reproduction process. Workers - non-fertile or sterile females that maintain the colony.
Duties of Workers
They rear and nurse the brood (eggs, larvae and pupae), queen and drones.
They collect nectar and make honey.
They make the honey combs.
They protect the hives.
They clean the hive.
Importance of Bees
Collect nectar from flowers.
Make honey - a nutritious product used by man as food.
Helps in crops pollination of plants.
Bees produce wax used to make candles.
They make propolis - a bee product which is medicinal.
Siting/locating of an Apiary
Factors to consider;
Nearness or accessibility to nectar or flower-producing vegetation.
Areas with shade. Bees are sensitive to the sun's heat and require some shade to protect them.
Safe distance from human residence and other livestock.
Bees are stinging insects and can be a hazard to humans or other animals.
Nearness to a source of water for use in their nutrition.
A good distance from source of noise and other disturbances.
Safety from predators for example honey badgers, ants (safari ants), birds and other parasites such as wax moths.
Normally bees are self-sufficient in providing their food from the honey they make.
However, during the dry season, their feeding should be supplemented by providing a solution (syrup) of sugar water or giving molasses.
This should be placed strategically so that it is easily accessible to the bees.
Control of Parasites
Use of physical barriers such as Vaseline/grease to control ants.
Smoke the hive to control bee louse.
Suspend the hive to control honey badgers.
Burn infected combs to control wax moths.
Diseases and Control
African bees are seldom attacked by diseases.
Factors to consider;
Stage of ripening: Honey must be harvested when it is fully mature.
Season of the year: Harvested at the end of the rainy season.
Blow light smoke through the hole.
This makes bees suck honey and become engorged and docile. Lower the hive to the ground.
Open the hive to expose honey combs.
Brush the bees off the honey combs.
Cut the honey combs, leaving a small margin on the bars and keep them in a closed container.
Using heat in a water bath to melt the honey.
Crushing and straining.
Using a centrifugal extractor.
Precautions When Handling Bees
Avoid excessive smoking.
This kills the brood and lowers quality of the honey. Use protective clothing to avoid sting.
Protect the hive from rain water.
Use clean equipment and containers to avoid contamination of the honey.
Use recommended method of extracting honey.
Use recommended type of hive such as Kenya top bar hive.