What is apiculture?
The word Apiculture is derived from the honeybee's Latin name
Apis mellifera, meaning ‘honey gatherer’. But since bees do
not collect honey but nectar from which honey is made, the
scientific name should actually be Apis mellifica meaning
So, Apiculture is defined as the management and study of
honeybees. Or it is a science based industry, which uses bees
as micromanipulators to harvest plant foods from
environmental resources that other wise would be wasted.
1.2.Place of honeybee in the Animal kingdom
Section Aculeata (having stings)
Super family Apoidea (bees)
Sub-family Apinae(sting bees), Moliponinae (stingless bees)
Species:- Andreniformiis Laboriosa
There are about 20,000 species of bees in the order
hymenoptera; including ants and wasps in the same order.
The majority of bee species are ‘solitary’ not social i.e (no
Characteristics of social bees is that workers produce
enzymes to make honey and to store it safe from spoilage,
to use in dearth periods.
Bees that produce honey bee belong to two sub-families:
apinae (honeybee) and Meliponinae (stingless bees).
Apinae has only none genus Apis, of which Apis melifera is
much greater economic importance.
1.3 The bee human relationship
Traditional beekeeping doesn’t make use of the correct
equipment and techniques. Rather honey is harvested by
use of fire or live torches which burn the insect to death.
This method is barbaric. Interest in bees started in with the
hunting and robbing of wild colonies in hollow cavities,
or rocks. Until the refining of sugar development in the 19th
century, honey was the only sweating. It was praised not
as food, but used as folk medicine. The credit must never
to man but to the honey bee the “golden insect."
Although human have learned much about bees and how to
keep them the bee itself has not changed. Honey bee of
today is the same as it was thousands years ago. In short
humans do not yet domesticate honey bee (still wild).
There are three basic stages in the historical development of
the bee-human relationship :
Bee killing, bee-having, bee-keeping.
Bee-killing (bees killed)
Bee-keeping (bees managed)
Bee-killing (honey hunting): the most basic stage. It
is the killing of bees in a colony. Then the honey and brood
are taken. Left without honey stores or brood, any
bees are doomed. Honey hunters or gatherers usually use
fire to kill the bees. Honey hunters usually regret having to
kill the colony, but they know of no other way to obtain
honey or wax. There fore:-
Bees are killed
Honey quality is low
Value of bees wax is unknown
It is traditional activity in many regions of Africa and
Bee having (maintaining bees): is an intermediate step
between bee-killing and beekeeping. In
Bees are housed in different hollowed sections like tree
trunks, clay pots, gourds, bark hives, or straw-and-mud
Little inspection and manipulation of the colony
The wax is recognized as having value (sold or use
farmers provide protection to the bee colony to maintain
the colony for future harvests instead of destroying it.
Implies the manipulation of a bee colony; it is predicated
on some understanding of the bee.
Management practices can be relatively simple, low-
level technologies or fairly complicated procedures,
using more sophisticated equipment
It is "high-tech" beekeeping
The limiting factor is lack of knowledge to profitably
utilize relatively expensive equipment.
1.4 Why we develop bee – keeping
Bee-keeping is first becoming more interested y the
farmers who are involving in other agricultural activities.
Bees are not only aid in pollination but make use of the
unused resources (pollen and nectar).
Honey is delicious and nutritious. It is also said to be
‘honey is money’. But how can man obtain honey to
combat malnutrition? By bee –keeping large quantity of
honey can be obtained for home consumption and for
Other benefits of bee keeping :
A. Valuable food:
it is nutritious which combat malnutrition
Honey is 80% of sugar, 18% water and 2% protein it is therefore an
extremely a suitable food for children, sick people, heavy workers.
It is non-perishable, used to treat wounds and as effective
Used as expensive dietary supplement (medicine)
It contains up to 35% protein
Used to make perfume.
Royal-jelly (bees’ milk):
Good source of vit B and medical value.
Used to make chocolate, candy and wine as well as lotions and
for therapeutic use.
B. Provide remunerative employment: create job
C. Earning much needed foreign currency: hive products
– honey, bees wax and propolis are non perishable.
D. Requiring no large initial investment
• Provide their own food all year round.
• Required inputs are available locally
• Individuals and private organization such as Churches,
women groups, youth association and co-operatives
societies can initiate it with limited funds.
E. Requiring practically no space on the farm (the bee-
keepers does not need to own land in order to keep
F. It improves ecology.
G. The technology is available in many rural localities.
H. Contributing to pollination and thus to crop
production. eg. Increase the production of other crops
such as peanuts, coffee, and citrus through better
Beekeeping is an activity which fits well with z philosophy of
small-scale agricultural development which can be easily
integrated into larger agricultural or forestry projects.
Beekeeping is a family activity which has the following
advantages over other types of agriculture:
• It needs a relatively small investment.
• It uses little land and the quality of the land is not
• It is a flexible activity for both sexes of any age.
• Beekeeping does not compete for resources with
other types of agriculture - the nectar and pollen of
plants are a true bonus.
SPECIES AND RACES OF HONEYBEES
There are about 10,000 species of bees which roughly
are divided in to two groups: Social bees
that live in colonies and solitary bees that live
Honey bees are social insects. They live and work
together. The genus Apis (the true honey bee)
is the major producer of honey and hive products.
2.1 Species of honey bees
The genus Apis consists of the following species:
Apis melifera A. florea A. vechiti
A. cerana A. laboriosa A. binghmi
A. dorsata A. andreniformis A. breviligula
Small stingless bees,Trigona spp,belong to the genus
By nature bees are wild but A. melifera and A. cerana are easily
initialized in man made hivesreferred to as “hivebees” as
opposed to A.dorsat, A. florae, and stingless bees, which can’t
brought to live in bee-keeper’s hives and referred to as “wild
2.1.1 Apis milifera
It is the most wide spread economic species, which is native to
Africa, Europe, and the near Middle East of Asia. It is believed
that it is originated in Africa and migrated to Europe. The most
important characteristics of Apis melifera are:
I. It is most productive referred as “the honey carrying bee”
II. It has high adaptability i.e it quickly develops new races
suited to different climates (To and R.F)
III. It is fairly aggressive.
IV. It is less prone to swarming compared to others and abscond
less easily – important characteristics to bee keepers (hoping not
to lose their colony).
V. It is less volunerable to certain disease esp. varroa mite.
There are different races of A. Mellifera
species. Some of them are categorize region
A.m. carnica (carniolan bees)
Mediterranean island Races:
A.m. cypria (the Cyprian honeybee)
African races of Apis melifera:
A.m. lamarcki (Egyptian bee) or A.m. faciata
184.108.40.206 Races of honey bee in Eritrea
I. A.m. Scutallata: found at altitude of 500 to >2000m. Its
defense behavior varies from colony to colony. It has high
swarming rate and strong tendency to abscond and migrate.
II. A.m. manticola: found in between 2400 to 3400 altitude. It
is found in many other parts of African countries. It is dark
with longer hair on abdomen and it is relatively gentle.
III. A.m. Jementica: found in escarpments and lowlands.
Stingless bees: found in medium altitude up to 23000m. It
produces a special honey known as Tazma. It build nest in
ground 1m deep.
2.1.2 Apis Cerana
It is the most important second specie from the stand point of
It is indigenous from Afghanistan, to china and Japan.
This species is similar to A. melifera, but smaller. Their color
varies from dark grey to reddish yellow.
It absconds more easily and also prone to swarm.
They are better of defending their nests and more resistant to
The bee has been kept for many centuries in hives, log, pots,
bamboo baskets or wan hives.
The three races of this bee are: - A.c. japonica, A.c.
sinensis (A.c.cerana) and A.c.indica.
2.1.3 Apis Dorsata
This bee is the largest of genus Apis –giant or rock bee.
It is distributed through out tropical and sub tropical parts
of Asia (not found outside of Asia).
They tend to have their combs high in trees, cliffs and
Colonies are vigorous, swift to attack intruders.
Construction of combs pacing of brood, pollen and honey on
the combs are the common charcterstics with other honey
They have much more efficient alarm communication.
Colonies in jungle areas can recognize an approaching man
at a distance of 50 to 100m, often before he can see the
2.1.4 Apis florae
They are known as dwarf or little honey bee (smaller than the above)
Generally it is distributed from Oman and Iran in western Asia through
the Indian sub continent ti Indonesia in the East. It is also reported to
found in Sudan.
The colony usually builds a single wax comb which is often attached to
a palm leaf or branches of bush or tree 3.5 m above ground.
Swarming is most prevalent. A large colony may produce around eight
swarm per year.
The colonies are known to be valuable pollinators of many crops such
as alfalfa, cotton, beans, sunflower etc….
Honey production may reach 1-3kg/yr. however it is highly esteemed for
its quality and repeatable medicinal and mystical properties.
2.1.5 Trigona (stingless) Species
These are found through out the tropics which are indigenous to
Africa, Asia and America.
They are kept for their wax than honey.
They build their nests under the roots of dwellings in trunks of
trees, wall crevices, log etc…
The entrances of their nests drown out tunnel like.
The colonies are small and produce only 20-50gm/yr/colony.
The brood comb is one cell thick.
The honey is praised locally for medical uses.
The honey is darker, cloudier and bitter than honey of the Apis
It is very important pollinator.
THE HONEY BEE COLONY
The bee colony is always comprises of the adult bee and the brood
including the comb and stores in it.
Nest is referring to what has been constructed by the bees, i.e the
comb together with wax or propolis in the cavity.
Nest site is a place where a colony lives.
The nest of honey bee consists of a number of vertical combs which
hang parallel to each other at a distance of about 10-14 mm, which is
known as’ Bee Space’.
Comb are comprises of hexagonal cells.
There are two types of comb cells: small and large comb cells. Small
comb cells: are cells where worker bees are reared, where as large
cells are drones reared. In the lower part of worker cells, worker are
reared, where as in upper part, honey and pollen are stored.
3.1 Organization of honey bee colony
In an average honey bee colony in tropics, there are:
I. One fertile queen.
II. From 20,000 -80,000 sterile females ( workers)
III. From 300- 800 fertile males (drone)
IV. About 5,000 eggs and 25,000 – 30,000 immature bees in various
stages of development called brood.
3.2 Life cycle of the honey bee
The honey bee is an insect with complete metamorphosis. This means
that there are four distinct
stages in the life cycle - egg, larva, pupa, and adult .The first three
stages develop in cells in the
comb, and are collectively referred to as the brood. Egg and larva
are in open cell called unsealed brood.
Once the egg hatches, the workers-
continually feed the developing larva.
When the larva nears the end of the larval
period, it engorges on food provided by the
workers, and the workers seal the cell. This
is known as the capped or sealed brood.
After the cell is sealed, the larva changes in to Pupa. There is
no feeding during this period and
the pupa develops to adult form, which emerges on its own
from the cell.
3.3 The Bee Castes
The honey bee is a social insect with three types of individuals
or castes in the colony. Each caste has its special function in
the colony. These are:
a. Queens (reproductive females)
b. Workers (non reproductive females)
c. Drones are males
Each of these three honey bees has a highly specialized feed
function with in the community.
1.The queen lay egg and harmonizes the colony.
2.The drones mate the queen
3.Workers work all other tasks necessary to the colony.
Each caste has a different developmental events (time) and
is reared in a distinct type of cells. The developing queen
larva is always surrounded by royal jelly, a special, highly-
nutritious food produced by head glands of the workers this
feeding scheme, called massive provisioning, is unique to
the queen and continues throughout her entire
All young larvae of less than two days are fed with royal
jelly by the massive provisioning scheme. After the second
day, worker larvae are gradually switched to a progressive
feeding scheme where they are fed with a mixture of royal
jelly, honey and pollen. With progressive feeding, the larvae
are fed periodically, thus food is not always available to
them. The different feeding schemes determine the caste
of the adult bee. Thus any female egg or larva less than two
days old has the potential to become either a queen or a
Developmental events (in days)
Eggs Hatches after Cell is sealed after Adult emerges after
Workers 3 3 9 21
Drones 3 3 10 24
Queen 3 3 8 16
3.4Development of Honey Bee
The bees develop from fertilized or unfertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs give
rise to workers and queen cells, where as unfertilized egg to Drones. Egg
develops in three days. All the larvas are fed with “bee milk” or royal jelly,
which is produced by the worker bees (nurse bees). After 3 days workers and
drones fed on mixed food (honey and pollen, while larvae of queen fed on
royal jelly during their whole larval life (5 days). Queen can be reared from
any worker larvae younger than 3 days. The genes of a queen and the
workers (her full sister) are derived from their mother queen and drones.
But drones develop from unfertilized egg. His genes are derived from his
mother queen only.
A b c
3.4.1 The Queen
Queen is the only female that is completely developed sexually. This
is a result of a total diet of royal jelly during a developmental period.
She is distinguished by her long, slender appearance, due to the full
development of the ovaries in her abdomen. She has a sting without
barbs. In the colony, she is found in the area of the brood nest. There
is only one queen in the hive. She has two main functions in the
colony. I.e she lays all of the eggs and maintains the social order of
Biologists point the queen bee as a remarkable example of how food
can affect animal development, since worker bee and queen bee
derived from the same egg. Queen bee is fed lavishly, results in
numerous anatomical differences between her and the worker. The
most important difference is in their reproductive systems.
220.127.116.11Characteristics of the queen
1.She is recognized by her long abdomen, which
extends far beyond the tip of her wing.
2.Her thorax is longer than that of the worker.
3.Viewing from the front, her head is round. The
queen has a sting, but only used to fight rival
4.The queen has curved, smooth stinger that she can
uses repeatedly with out endangering her own life.
5.In contrast workers are armed with straight, barbed stingers,
when the worker stings, the barbed organ remains firmly
anchored in the flesh of its Victim. The queen has no collecting
apparatus like pollen baskets, long proboscis for drawing
nectar, or wax glands to secrete wax to build comb cells.
6.She usually doesn’t feed herself.
7.When the queen emerges from her cell, she is not identified
as the queen for several days, until she begins to emit her
special secretions. During this period, the queen tours the hive
to see if there is any rival queen hiding somewhere.
New queens are produced under 3 circumstances:
A. When the colony is planning a reproductive swarming.
B. When the queen is over aged and lying badly, or is otherwise
failing, the workers build 1- 3 replacement or supersedure,
queens live together in the hive.
C. When the colony loss its queen through accident or diseases
the workers create emergency queen calls from workers cells
containing larvae less than 3 days old.
A good queen lay from 1500-2000 eggs a day. Factors which affect
egg laying are the weather, the nectar and pollen flows, the
size of the queen, and the condition of the colony.
The number of eggs laid varies with the annual cycle as available
resources of nectar and pollen vary. Large
amounts of incoming resources stimulate workers to give the queen
more food, which in turn stimulates her to lay more eggs. She lives for
up to five years, but her best laying period is during her first 2 years
only. Pheromones produced by the queen are largely responsible for
the coherence of a “queen right colony”, adult bees stay together as a
social unit. Pheromone production is greatest in young mated and
laying queens. Colonies headed by such queens are less likely to
supersede their queens to swarm. Workers get the pheromone while
feeding the queens, licking her body, brushing her with the antenna,
by translocation on the body surface of each individual bee, by
grooming her body and when she moves among other bees by making
physical contacts. All these lead to aware of the presence of queen.
3.4.2 The Drones
They are male honey bees produced from unfertilized egg. It
much brooder than the worker but shorter than a queen. The
abdomen is not pointed.
Their compound eyes are twice as large as those of the queen
and the workers. Drones can be easily identified by its stout
Their wings are the largest of these of the 3 castes.
Drones are stingless, defenseless, and unable to feed them
selves (feed by worker bees).
Drones have no pollen baskets, wax glands, suitable
to gather nectar and can’t secrete royal jelly
Their only function is to mate with new queens. After mating
(on wing in open air) drones die immediately.
Drones become sexually matured with in 9-12 days or older and
fly out to “drone congregation areas”, where they meet
queens for mating.
Drones show high degree of laziness and their flight is of
limited duration (about 20 minutes).
The extent of drone rearing is very variable.
No drone in winter ( because there is no resources)
Presence of drones in spring (because there is plentiful
Drones do not feed in fall (feed restriction)
Finally they dragged from the hive when they are weak.
3.4.2. The workers
a. Workers are smallest and most numerous. They are triangular in
shape when viewed from the front. Tips of wings cover the end of
b. Workers are always female. She creates from the same egg that
creates a queen bee. As the name indicates worker bees born to
work and their schedule of work usually follows a set pattern.
c. Workers reproductive organs are atrophied (can’t be fertilized
by the drones because they do not posses sperm reserve capacity.
On the other hand, they have organs other than those of the
queens and the drones, to enable them to execute all duties in the
Such as :-
Long tongue(glossa) to suck nectar
Special sac for carrying honey and water.
Pollen basket for carrying pollen.
Well developed sting.
Different glands to produce royal jelly, saliva, enzymes (ripen
the honey) and wax glands to produce wax
d. Strong colony consists of more than 50,000 workers. Workers
perform different kinds of work within and outside of the
colony depending up on her age.
e. During the early stage of their life, they are referred as
“house bees” carry out a number of activities needed to
maintain the well being of the colony.
Such duties include :-
I. Cleaning cells, feeding honey and pollen to the older and
II. Comb building, cell capping and taking nectar from the
“field” bees and placing in cell.
III. Ventilating the hive by funning their wings ( cooling the
hive and removes excess moisture)
IV. Temperature control is one of the important duties of the
house bee. When temperature
is low, they cluster to generate heat, but when it is high, fan
their wings. The right
temperature required is between 33O
and 36o c., while the brood
chamber require constant temperature of 35o c.
V. The final job as “house” worker bee becomes a “field” worker
bee. She will never return to house hold duties, but she will be
interested with collection of nectar, pollen, water or propolis
depending on the needs of the community.
VI. Workers have ultraviolet vision to see flowers full of nectar.
“Field bee” sucks nectar from deep inside flowers and stores in
her “honey sack”. As she moves from flower
to flower, she collects pollen and stores in “pollen basket”
(sacks) in the back leg.
VII. When reaches the hive “field bee” transfer the nectar to
“house bee” tongue to tongue. House bee then spreads a drop of
nectar in the cell, where it begins drying process that converts
nectar in to honey. They also take pollen packs in to pollen cell.
f. The life span of adult workers varies with the time of the
year and type of work. When the colony is relatively inactive,
workers may live three months or more. But when the colony is
active, workers live 3-6 weeks.
Summary of age and task carry out by the worker bee
1-2 Clean cell and warm the brood nest.
3-5 Feed older larvae with honey and pollen >3 days nectar, royal jelly and
6-10 Feed young larvae with products of the head glands (royal jelly).
11-18 Ripen nectar, produce wax and construct comb.
19-21 Guard and ventilate the hive, take exercise and orientation of flights to
learn to fly to & locate the hive.
22&above Forage for nectar, pollen, water and propolis.
Glands and Organs of Worker bee and their function
Structure Location Function
Head gland Front of head Produce brood food and royal jelly
Wax gland Under abdomen Produce Wax
Odor gland Near upper tip of
Produce scant to orient bees when disturbed
Sting and associate Tip of abdomen Defense the colony
Long tongue Head Gather nectar
Honey stomach Enlarged area of
Carries nectar and water
Pollen basket Hind legs Collect pollen, carries propolis, press pollen into pellets and carry it to
3.5. Honey bee communication
When a bee get a food sources it locate and passes’ on the
information to other bees by a series of dances. There are
different types of dances based on the distance of the food
source. Some of them are:
I. Sickle Dance: this is done when the distance of food source is
about 10-40m. Direction of the food is shown by the arrow
bisecting the opening of the sickle.
II. Round Dance: this is done when the food source is around
85m from bee hive.
III. Waggle Dance: this is done when the food source is around
A field worker conveys 3 messages:
1.Distance to food source is by number of turn in a
distance in a given time
2.Vigour and duration of dance – richness of the food
3.Direction – given the sun as a reference.
3.6. Resource Needs of the Colony
Foraging workers fly up to three kilometers from the colony to
collect the resources needed by
the colony. Bees will fly further than three kilometers, but this
is often energy inefficient.
The four substances collected by foragers for the colony are:
Nectar is a sugary secretion of plants. it is commonly secreted
by nectars. Nectar is 70to80% water. The remainder is sugar and
trace amounts of other organic compounds. Nectar is the
carbohydrate or energy component in the diet of the bee.
The nectar-ripening process involves evaporating the water
content down to less than 19% and adding a small amount of
enzymes. The workers do this by continually regurgitating
droplets of nectar from their honey stomachs and extending the
droplets from their proboscises. Increasing the surface area of
the droplets in this way hastens evaporation. The action also
mixes in enzymes which break down the complex sugars of the
nectar into simple sugars.
Pollen is a powdery substance produced by the male organs of
flowers. It contains the sperm cell of the plants. Worker sticks
it into the pollen basket to carry it back to the hive. The
pollen press and basket are also on the hind legs.
Pollen is used to feed older brood and is also eaten in large
quantities by nurse bees that are producing royal jelly from
the head glands. It is the protein, vitamin and mineral
component in the bee diet. Pollen is stored in cells
immediately surrounding the brood nest where it is readily
available for feeding brood and for consumption by the nurse
bees. A complex of yeasts in the pollen acts to preserve it in a
process similar to ensilaged hay.
It is a resinous substance collected from plants. It is found
around wounds on plants and sometimes around buds. Bees use
it to seal small cracks and holes in the colony, for reinforcing
and repairing old comb, and for covering dead animals in the
colony which are too big to be removed.
Propolis contains chemicals called turpines which act to limit
bacterial and fungal growth. Therefore it serves to help control
bacteria and fungi in the colony environment. It is collected by
foragers and carried to the hive in the pollen baskets.
Water is mixed with honey before the bees eat it or feed it to the
brood. Bees also use water to cool the hive on hot days. When it is
hot, many foragers are busy collecting water. The water is placed in
small droplets around the hive, and air currents are set up by bees
which stand in the colony and fan their wings. The colony
temperature is lowered by evaporative cooling. Water is carried to
the colony in the honey stomachs of the foragers. A nearby source of
fresh water is helpful to a bee colony. This minimizes the effort
needed to satisfy the water requirements of the hive, and allows
the colony to devote more effort to foraging for nectar and pollen.
If no natural sources of water are available nearby, the beekeeper
can profit by providing a water supply in the apiary.
GETTING STARTED IN BEE KEEPING
4.1BEE KEEPING EQUIPMENTS
In modern or traditional bee keeping it is advisable to acquire
suitable protective equipment such as clothing and others. To
mention some of the equipment used in beekeeping are:-
A veil: It is hat like structure which serves to hold bees away
from the face and neck.
Bee suits: made to cover all parts of the body except, head,
hands and feet.
Long boots: is important to protect feet from biting.
Bee gloves: protect hand and fingers and help to scoop bees
with this hands if needed.
Smoker: used to produce smoke to direct bees away from areas of the
hive being working. It causes bees to consume honey, reduce their
tendency to fly and sting. It also renders bees docile, so that
beekeepers work undisturbed.
Water: Use the water in the same way you use smoke. Wet the bees at
the entrance before opening the hive, and wet the bees on the combs
as they are exposed. The water cools and weighs down the bees, which
prevents them from flying or running out of the hive.
Hive tool: use to pray and remove frames from the bee hive, for
scraping away the excess propolis and wax. It can also use to separate
joined combs. Here knife can also be used as a hive tool.
The feeder: it can be jam, jar or special container arranged to drink
4.2 Bee Space and Bee hives
Bees usually build their nests in a cavity, attaching the combs
to the upper part. The nest sites or hives of feral colonies are
often inaccessible to the person wanting to gather honey. Eve
if a colony is accessible, it is usually necessary to destroy bot
the cavity and the combs to gather the hive products.
Beekeeping implies management of the honey bee colony.
Management of the hive itself is based on manipulating the
combs to inspect the condition or to adjust the space needs of
Therefore, a practical system which allows for easy removal
and replacement of combs without destroying them is a
prerequisite for beekeeping. An understanding of the "bee
space" permits the building of hives which allow for the
removal and replacement of combs. This also allows for the
construction of hives which separate the brood nest from the
honey stores, permitting separate access to each area.
4.2.1The Bee Space: the basis for beekeeping
The bee space is simply the crawl space needed by a bee to
pass easily between two structures (7.5 mm +/- 1.5 mm for the
western hive bee, less for the eastern hive bee). If the space
between any two surfaces in the hive is too small for a bee to
pass through easily, the bees will seal it with propolis. If the
space is larger than a bee needs to pass through easily, the bees
will construct comb in the area.
When the space between two surfaces in the hive is the right
size, the bees will leave it free as a crawl space. If the bee
space is considered and respected in the construction of a hive,
a hive that allows for easy comb removal and replacement will
The Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth of Philadelphia was the
first person to make use of the bee space in hive
construction. He constructed the first modern hive in
1851, using moveable frames to contain the comb within
the hive. The modern frame hive currently used for
"high-tech“ beekeeping is still sometimes referred to
as the Langstroth hive.
4.2.2Types of bee hives
Bee hives are hollow containers that can be closed and are
made to house bees. Under natural condition, bee colonies will
choose their nesting site, which can be any cavity, hollow tree,
rock cavity etc. but the hive used by a beekeeper could be
appropriate to his way of keeping.
There is a large variety of hives, from the relatively simple to
the very complicated beehives. In general three types of hives
are most commonly used:
1. Fixed comb hives ( traditional hives)
2. Modern hives : a) movable comb hives with top bars (top bar
hives) b). movable comb hives with frames ( langstroth)
18.104.22.168Fixed comb hives:
They are no more than man-made cavities. In fixed-comb
hives, the bees attach the combs directly to the upper surfaces
of the hive and usually to the sides. The bees naturally leave
the bee space between the combs as they construct them.
Combs can be removed from such hives only by cutting them
out, and it is not practical to replace them. Thus beekeeping is
impossible with fixed-comb hives. These hives allow only for
bee-killing or beehaving. These can be made from a hollow log
wooden box, on earthen pot, or a metal container. These could
be: grass hives, the log hives, the barrel hive, the clay pot hive
Advantages of the hive:
Materials for construction are readily available locally and
Bee wax production is high.
They are traditional, and methods are established for
working with them. So,
Colonies are not constantly disturbed by a bee keeper.
It is impossible to remove combs and replace them, thus
examination of the colony condition and hive manipulation is
Swarming is often common because of limited space.
Brood is lost in harvesting honey.
Honey production is hindered.
Honey quality and quantity is low. Because it comes from old
comb or is mixed with pollen, brood, or ashes.
22.214.171.124 Modern hives
a. Movable comb hives with frames (Langstroth):
The design of all modern bee hives is based on the father of
modern bee keeping “Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth”, who made
based on the bee space requirement. He invented a hive with
frames separated by bee space. He found several hive boxes
stacked one above the other and a queen confined to the
lowest or brood chamber by means of queen excluder. The
upper chambers are called Supers (honey chambers), which are
reached only by workers and there for contain only honey
combs. This made hive inspection and other management
easier. In this case boxes
and frames can be interchanged.
Comb can be easily removed, inspected and interchanged since they are
built in frames.
Honey is extracted by means of centrifugal honey extractor. Then empty
combs returned to the colony. This enhances honey production as the bees do
not have to construct new comb.
Honey quality is high. This is because only honey combs are removed and
Less care is needed during inspection and honey harvesting because combs
are attached to frames.
Easy to produce (collect) pollen and mass rearing of queen.
Drugs can be easily applied.
Space in the hive can be increased in a vertical plane by adding supers. This
enhances the natural tendency of the bees to expand the nest in an 'upward
They require good quality wood and expertise in carpentry
there fore is expensive.
They require comb foundation and honey extractor –
expensive to own
Hive with super is difficult to carry- vehicle may require
For their optimum return, they require much expertise in
There are numerous bee spaces between the top bars of
the frames. This makes it difficult to control highly
defensive strains of bees.
B) Movable comb hives with top bars (top bar hives)
Langstroth frames are replaced by a simple modification of the
top bar of the longstroth frame. Then bees build their combs
hanging down from the center of the bar, combs are not
supported in all the four sides by frames, as a result they
easily broken. Typical example of this is the Kenyan Top Bar
(KTB). Such kinds of hives could be made from straw, bamboo,
mud, metal, wood etc.
126.96.36.199. KTB hives
It is an ideal accommodation for the aggressive tropical bees.
It is highly recommended for use
i. Bars can be replaced with others bars.
ii. Swarming can be controlled- increase the number of colon
with a single queen.
iii. The hive is cheaper for beekeepers and bee havers.
iv. No need to import any material (it is locally available).
v. They do not require comb foundation.
vi. No need of hive tool.
vii. Bee wax production is relatively high.
viii. Honey quality is higher as it is harvested from new combs
ix. Top bar hives are lighter to carry.
x. No need of queen excluder
i. It is difficult to move the colonies with out breaking combs
(need more care).
ii. Honey is extracted by destroying honey combs- need
iii. Top bar hive is relatively easy to steal as it is light and
4.2.3Site selection and apiary lay out
An apiary is a place where bee hives are kept. In choosing an
apiary site, besides the presence of
near by nectar and pollen source there should be near by
The ideal site should receive sun in the morning and shade in
the after noon. In general ideal apiary site should be:-
Away from play grounds and noisy commercial/industrial
Easy accessibility to all hives in all weather by the beekeeper
and his vehicles.
Shade from the sun and excessive wind.
Permanent water availability
Minimal danger from fire and flood.
Protection from attacks or incident damage by animals.
Safety from vandalism and theft.
Minimal danger of nuisance from the bees to members of the
public and their animals. In addition to the above points,
beehive should be placed in a stand to protect the bees from
ants and others. The stand should be at least 45cm above the
ground. Legs of the stand should be in a motor oils/ grazes or
fresh ashes. Nearby weeds should be cut. When water is
provided with a container, flooding sticks or protrude stones
To reduce drifting or confusion between colonies, hives shoul
be arranged properly.
The method could be by:-
a. Change the direction of the hive entrance.
b. Use land marks with trees to break up lines
c. Hives should be at least 45cm apart.