Beekeeping in Africa: Traditional and modern beehives and beekeeping equipment

Summary

Honeybees that nest in the open produce far less honey than those confined in enclosures. There are good reasons for this. Colonies in the open are exposed to predators and therefore have to employ numerous workers as guards to fight intruders. They have to consume large quantities of honey, which they use as fuel, to enable them to cluster to stop the wind which cools down their combs and to generate enough heat to maintain the proper temperature for brood development. During severely hot days, more bees have to use honey as fuel to enable them to fan and cool melting combs to avoid disaster. This temperature control can only be quite inefficient, because of the colony's exposed condition. The exposed colony therefore has to keep larger numbers of house bees, and will thus have fewer foraging bees available to bring in the needed nectar and other essentials from the field. It has been seen that the bees' primary natural ranges are in the savannah and semi-arid lands, where temperature variations are extreme. Often the few nesting enclosures available to the bees are in ant-hills and rocks from which honeycombs cannot be easily harvested. Large trees are scarce; few have hollows large enough to house a colony. With the increased interest in beekeeping and the growing demand for bee products and services, bees can no longer be maintained in their few natural dwelling places, but must be provided with special artificial hollows in the form of beehives.

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