Protecting hives against predators and thieves
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CTA. 2007. Protecting hives against predators and thieves. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57292
How to make traditional beehives safe from predators such as honey badgers and red ants, and from thieves.
Protecting hives against predators and thieves Cue: In any farming business there is risk. Crops may be at risk, for example, from drought, disease, pests or thieves. And for beekeepers, their bees, hives and honey are also at risk from several dangers. Termites, for example, can cause serious damage to hives, other insects such as red ants can attack bees, and some larger animals ? not to mention humans - may break the hives and steal the honey. Methods for protecting bees and hives will vary for different types of hive. For example, for hives that stand on the ground, putting the legs of the hive in containers filled with water can help to keep them free of termites. In Malawi, however, most beekeepers use traditional hives, which are hung in trees. Alex Banda, a Malawian bee expert, spoke to Excello Zidana about these traditional beehives can be protected against predators, including thieves. IN: ?In beekeeping we have a number of enemies ? OUT: ?to have a free hand on that.? DUR?N: 6?19? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Alex Banda, a beekeeping expert from Malawi, was talking to Excello Zidana. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Banda In beekeeping we have a number of enemies that can cause damage to either the hives themselves or the bees. For example, we have an animal which is known as a honey badger. This animal, which looks like a cat but is short and stout, black and white, this one can cause great damage to bee hives as well as the honey and the brood inside. We also have red ants. These, they cause damage to bees, they kill the bees actually if they go into the hive. Zidana How do you protect the beekeeping itself from these animals and insects you have mentioned so far? Banda Initially, the beekeeper has to look for a nice place where he can place his hives in the forest. Enemies like red ants, those are found in damp areas, so a beekeeper has to avoid such areas. And the way a hive is placed in the field, it has to be installed in such a way that it is away from trees. For example, the beekeeper selects a place where there are two poles or two free standing trees which should be five or four metres apart, and then the hive would be hung in between these two trees. Zidana Using what? Banda Using wire. From the ground to the bottom of the hive it has to be 1.2 metres. Zidana Not less than that? Banda Not less than that, because the honey badger is 90cm when it stands on its feet. Now should it be less than a metre it means when it stands on its feet it will be able to catch the hive and damage it, but if it is above that it will be unable to do that. Now because you have hung the hive in between the two trees it can also climb the tree and slide to the hive. Now we have what we call a honey badger protector which has to be put on top of the hive. Zidana How does this thing look like? Banda The honey badger protector is made of sticks. Three long ones and 12 up to 15 small ones, which will run across. And then you nail these together using 3 inch nails so that it is strong enough. When you put it on top there, it should be bigger than the cover so that when the honey badger goes on top there, it will just be dancing there without damaging the hive. But without the honey badger protector, even if you have hung the hive between the two trees it will still attack it. Zidana You talked about red ants. How does this protect against red ants, the positioning? Banda Firstly, the trees where the hive has been hung must be in a place which has been cleared. You clear the grass around the trees so that the ground is free of grass. On top of that, you add ashes to the base of the trees. Red ants do not like ashes, so they cannot climb the trees. In addition to the ashes at the base of the two trees, you also smear grease to the wires which you have used to hang the hive to the trees. You put about 5cm length for the grease. Now when the ants come to the grease they will not go over that, but it has to be renewed now and then, because with time it gets dry. Once it gets dry it means the first ant that will go there will get caught and then the next will get caught, in the long run they will make a bridge which will allow the ants to be passing through even if you have put that grease. But once you renew it now and then, it deters ants to go the beehive. Zidana Now how about monkeys, we are told that monkeys are good honey hunters? Banda Monkeys, they are not bees? enemies actually. They just go to the hive because they look at the hive as something which they can play with. So they just go there, play, they just disturb the bees. Because when they are on top of the hive and the hive is swinging, it means inside there the combs which are warm can get broken. That is the only disadvantage. Zidana Now we have thieves, they would like to go and get maybe honey and have some money out of nothing. How do farmers protect bee hives from thieves? Banda Vandalism by man is a very tricky thing because you are dealing with somebody who is thinking. So the first thing what has to be done is for the beekeeper to be friendly with the communities around. He has to explain to the communities what he is doing there and even tell them that they are welcome to learn his art of what he is doing. And then if somebody has stolen the honey, the local leaders can call a meeting and talk about that thing. Also when introducing the beekeeping in an area, it is good that people are made aware, people are sensitised that they are also free to go and participate in the activity. Finally, the beekeeper himself must make his presence known in the area where he has got his beehives. He must be seen to be going there frequently, so that people know that the apiary belongs to Mr Phiri, Mr Banda, and in that way thieving will not be taking place. Because normally what happens is people just install beehives and they do not go there, they do not do inspections and people think it does not belong to anybody, so they are free to have a free hand on that. End of track.