Beekeeping in Nigeria has a long history of rise and fall. Honeybee seems to have a great economic potential for entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Bees are naturally ranged in semi-arid lands and Savanah. Therefore, these bees are used to extreme temperatures. Still, what is the best for them? Traditional or modern process of gathering? Continue reading to find out!
Traditional beekeeping methods
Beekeeping is not new for Africans. It has been practiced since ancient times. It was especially noticeable in the Sahel regions. Wooden board and timber have always been in scarce in that regions, that’s why mud and grass were considered the best materials for traditional beekeeping in Nigeria.
The Grass hive
The grass hives are one of the traditional ways of beekeeping. It’s usually made of dry grasses which are woven together in the form of a cylinder or basked. The entry points are provided in both ends of the hive. Some beekeepers prefer to construct them as low to the ground as possible. These beekeeping hives are structurally very weak and can’t last more than one season.
The grass hives have usually been used for one year or season. As it was mentioned, the overall structure is very weak and can’t last long without serious changes.
The gourd hive
It’s one of the traditional beekeeping methods in Nigeria. It’s a natural hollow for bees. Nevertheless, most gourds are too small for bee colonies. It means that their use often induces swarming. You can find out two types of gourds.
The first type is considered to be pot-shaped and the second version has a long neck which is constructed to the pot. Both can be installed on a wooden peg or suspension cord.
Most gourd hives are meant to be destroyed before brood, and honey combs can be removed. Therefore, tribes do not usually care about splitting brood and honey. They eat both at the same time.
The log hive
There actually two types of log hives. The first type is provided from palmyra palm or Ciba. These two types of trees provide natural hallows that are interested in natural beekeepers. When the plant dies, the termites consume the soft inner of the trees and help to build natural hives.
The second type includes cutting and felling trees into cylindrical logs. They are then sealed, and bees are provided with small holes for entry and exit. At the harvest, these logs are to be split open to remove the honey.
The barrel hive
Wooden or metal barrels might be employed as beehives. It started to happen from the colonial times when Great Britain started to import beer and Ale to Nigeria.
The clay-pot hive
It’s considered to be the cheapest and most durable traditional beekeeping hives. The pot is similar to the ones which are used to carry water or other liquids. These pots are usually made by elderly women in tribes. The traditional beekeeping uses local materials which are in great abundance for locals.
Modern Beekeeping methods
It’s interesting that most of modern designs for beekeeping are provided by the ideas of Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. The idea is simple, when bees build their hives, they usually leave and enter from the same place in the hive. The space inside the beehive is usually separated so bees can build their combs. Therefore, it’s provided a very good support for the bees and combs/
Langstroth also discovered that several communicating boxes can be build one above another. In this situation, the queen can be hidden in the lowest brood section of the hive. Therefore, the upper chambers might be separated only for workers. It helps to make hive inspections and many others managing procedures quite possible. It helped to turn beekeeping into the full scale industry.
Other hives for beekeeping that we see for today are usually designed out from Langstroth prototypes. Therefore, Langstroth can be named the father of modern beekeeping.
The top-bar hive
It’s considered to be one of the ways for modern beekeeping in Nigeria. It’s a simple modification of the Langstroth frame. In this way, the bees build their combs hanging down from the center of the bar. Therefore, the combs are not supported from all four sides and can be easily broken. It’s possible to be done with care. They can also be removed and replaced quite easily during any inspection.
The groove top-bar
This type of bars can be built quicker than other ones. Nevertheless, the manufacture of these hives requires the use of electrically powered machines as you can’t cut the groove in the center of the bar.
The pointed starter
It’s also connected with the groove top-bar construction. Nevertheless, this type of hive can’t be constructed by a carpenter. It also requires the production power. Nevertheless, the bees find it with ease to construct their hives inside such a box. The combs are always firmly attached.
The Kenyan top-bar hive
This type was developed by Professor G.F. Townsend at Guelph University of Canada. It’s mainly provided as the accommodation for aggressive types of bees that are common in Africa. It’s also highly recommended for using by beginners. It provides better safety measures for people.
It’s no wonder that modern beekeeping methods overwhelm traditional ones. They are cheaper and safer for bees and human. Moreover, they can provide more honey as bees find them more comfortable to build combs and produce honey. Still, for some tribes, traditional methods of beekeeping are preferable for various reasons.
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