Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Home Farming Tips Bees: Selecting An Apiary Site

Bees: Selecting An Apiary Site

by Harvest Money Editor
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Although beekeeping is one of the oldest farming practices, most farmers still practice it traditionally, hence not harvesting much.

According to Alice Kangave, a beekeeper and former entomologist at the agriculture ministry, apiary can be practiced from anywhere, in any space.

In Uganda, apiary is practised countrywide. For a beginner, all you need are 10 modern or local beehives.

The 10-20 hives each can produce at least 10-20kg of pure honey in a year, which translates into 100-200kg per year. At sh15,000 per kilogramme at farm gate price, this translates into sh1.5-3m from the 10 hives.

In fact, you can get back the total investment after just one year, yet input in form of labour is low.

Bees have few predators and are not attacked by diseases, so you do not need to buy medicines for them. A beehive remains colonised for as long as its structure is still right.

Bees multiply and create new ones often. A hive can last for as many as 10 years, as long as it is well-maintained.

Water availability

Bees need water to thrive while making honey. Make sure that there is a water source within a radius of 500 metres. Although bees are known to travel for over 5km looking for water, the nearer the better. If there is no water source, you can set up your own water sources in small saucepans or pails near the apiary site.

Good flowering plants

Bees make honey from nectar. The sources of natural nectar are mainly flowers.

It is, therefore, important to have flowering plants near the apiary. These can be coffee, mangoes, maize, bananas, calliandra, eucalyptus or simsim plants, among others.

If there are no flowers, set up water drinking points on plates near the hives. You can mix sugar in the water. Bees will pick, carry it and use it to process honey.

No fruit trees

Do not construct your hives under fruit trees that normally drop ripe fruits on the ground, such as mangoes. When the fruits ripen and drop on the ground, they attract all kinds of insects that eventually enter the hives and affect the bees.

How to keep pests off the apiary site

Keep the trees that provide shade well-trimmed, to reduce incidences of pests.

Do not let grass grow higher than the hives as this attracts pests and predators.

Carry out monthly checks on the hives to lookout for infiltration by insects because they chase away bees and stop them from processing honey.

If a hive is infested by other elements, such as bee beetles or termites, you need to decolonise it by removing the queen bee and putting it in another clean hive, then clean the old one.

Shade the hives

Bees are averse to direct sunshine. Therefore, you must select a site that has trees to create a shade. Direct sunshine makes the hives too hot for the bees to live in.

If the location has no trees, you can erect a shade over the hives, to reduce the impact of the heat from the sun on them.

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