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Apiculture is the science of keeping honey bee, harvesting, processing and marketing of the honey and other by-products. An apiary is a place where hives are kept for a successful beekeeping practice, the practitioner or apiculturist must observe the following:

  • Keep hives in lonely place from noise or physical disturbance
  • Visit his apiary at least once in a week
  • Clean hives that have not been colonized
  • Bait the hives frequently
  • Do not irritate your bee colonies with noise, chemical etc.

SETTING UP AN APIARY

The following must be of cognizance when setting up an apiary:

Location of site

 I.            Source of nectar must be within 1km radius. This is to conserve bee energy and increase honey production.

 II.            Source of drinking water must be close to the site. When not resent an alternative source should be provided.

              III.            Waterlogged site should be avoided

              IV.            Avoid sitting apiary in termite-infested areas

Beekeeping Equipment

       This includes:

  1. Beehive – is a simple box capped by a lid to keep the rain out. Inside the boxes, frames of beeswax hang down from a revetment along the inside edge of the hive.
Agriculture Nigeria: Beehive

These different sizes are in height only and they can be used for different purposes. Many beekeepers use just one size of box; others use the different sizes on one hive. Displayed below is the different parts of a hive.

Frames – Inside the boxes hang frames. Frames may be wooden or plastic. Wooden frames are literally just that – frames of wood in which a sheet of beeswax stamped with hexagonal shapes is held. The wax is kept in place with thin wire that crosses the frames

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Agriculture Nigeria: Hive Box
Agriculture Nigeria: Hive box

Hive Box

Hive stand – The entire hive sits on a hive stand. Beehives should not be set directly on the ground. The main reason is that damp will get into the hive, and this must not be allowed to happen. A hive stand, therefore, is anything that keeps the hive off the ground. This can be built out of wood, cinder blocks or even placed on a stump.

Agriculture Nigeria: Hive stand
  1. Clothing – This is a subject very important to be of note. Whether you can tolerate stings or not, it is never pleasant to feel a small gang of bees crawling down your back: on the inside! A sting on the end of, or up, the nose or in the eye is very unpleasant.

Bee suit

A decent bee suit with the veil incorporate is most preferred. Buy one with a hood that unzips and that can be thrown back when you’ve finished. Most of these suits have hoops in the hood that keep the veil away from your face and, if they don’t, don’t buy one. An excellent lightweight suits are most suitable for hot weather areas

Bee Veil – Always wear a veil when visiting bees. Bees love to explore and your ears, mouth and nose are very tempting.

Agriculture Nigeria: Veil

         Bee Gloves – Thick long gloves will protect your hands

         Hive Tool – Necessity in handling bees. Used in removing the cover, cleaning off burr comb, propolis etc. It is especially helpful in removing frames.

Hive tool

   Bee Brush – Used to gently remove bees from undesired areas.

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Bee brush

HARVESTING AND PROCESSING THE HONEY

The time to harvest honey depends on the flowering period of the forage plants and the extent of the honey flow. It should be noted that when harvesting honey, only the comb with capped honey should be harvested. Combs with brood should not be harvested.

After harvesting the honeycombs, the honey is extracted using floating, pressing, or centrifuging method.

The extracted honey can be stored in a glass jar or plastic buckets with well-sealed lids or airtight container to prevent fermentation of the honey. Honey can start to ferment during storage if the water content is greater than 19%.

DISEASES AND PEST

 The honey bee Apis mellifera has been reported to harbour multiple viruses and other disease-causing organisms. Some of the diseases of honey bee are

  • Nosema
  • European foulbrood and America foulbrood
  • Chalkbrood

Insects such as wax moth, small hive beetle, ants and termites.

Source: Agriculture Nigeria