Written by Diamonds for Peace Liberia staff
Bee keeping is considered a farming activity where people domesticate honeybees for the production of honey. Beekeeping is effective and efficient for income generation that can bring economic relief to a whole community. However, for a successful beekeeping project, the beekeeper needs the necessary tools and equipment. This article describes the different kinds of tools and equipment for beekeeping and what the beekeeper uses them for.
A beehive is an enclosed structure in which honey bees live and raise their young and also produce their food. Some beehives are natural while others are manmade. The natural beehives are those hives which are generally made available to bees by nature, to colonize. When domesticating bees for the production of honey, the beekeeper constructs beehives and deploy them at several suitable locations where bees are attracted to colonizing those hives. A modified beehive is made with planks; but a beehive can also be made locally with bamboo materials.
A bee smoker is a device used in beekeeping to calm the honeybees so they will not sting; it is designed to generate smoke from the smoldering of various fuels. The smoke interferes with the bees’ sense of smell, so that they can no longer detect low concentrations of the pheromones from the queen bee. In technical terms the smoke cuts the line of communication between the queen bee who gives the commands and the worker bees who receive and execute the commands by the queen bee. The honeybees are social insects, they seem friendly because they will not typically sting without provocation, but they can also be very dangerous and become very aggressive when they feel in danger or attacked. The behavior of honeybees is organized in such a way that the worker bees attack an enemy when instructed by the queen bee. The queen bee communicates with the worker bees through the release of a scent called pheromones.
With this knowledge, the beekeeper uses the smoker to smoke the bees when monitoring and managing the hives to avoid being stung, and h/she also uses the smoker when harvesting honey. The smoke confuses the bees, cuts the communication network and protects the beekeeper from the bees’ aggression.
The clothing that beekeepers wear is called a bee suit. A full bee suit consists of long sleeves and long pants; a hat and a veil as well, to protect the beekeeper from the bees’ stings. In other words, the bee suit is the protective gear/clothing used by the beekeeper to protect h/herself from getting stung by bees while beekeeping.
A honey extractor is a device used in the extraction of honey from honeycombs. The honey extractor extracts the honey from the honey comb without destroying the comb. With this method, the wax comb stays intact within the frame and can be reused by the bees. The beekeeper finds honey extraction as the central processing point in beekeeping; it is the process by which the honey is removed from the honeycomb in a way that a pure honey in liquid form is separated from the comb. A beekeeper could squeeze out the honey from the comb, but this destroys the precious drawn comb that could be reused; this is why the equipment (honey extractor) is very important.
The hive tool is a kind of tool used in maintaining and inspecting beehives. The hive tool is one of the most important tools for the beekeeper. The beekeeper uses the hive tool to open the hive or to remove a frame for inspection. The honey bees use propolis to seal frames and cover to the hive bodies to ensure that the hive is firmly sealed and prevented from opening easily. With the use of the hive tool, the beekeeper prizes the covers of the beehive apart from the beehive itself.
The beekeeping knife is another type of tool; it is used to make the process of cutting wax capping easy; it easily slices through the frames so as to make it easy for the beekeeper to extract the honey from the comb.
An airtight bucket is the kind of bucket which has a top that fits so tightly so that no air can get in or out. The beekeeper uses an airtight bucket to collect and transport harvested honey from apiary (bee farm) to the town before extraction. The bucket is also used to store the harvested honey after it has been extracted.
Participants for the beekeeping training in Weasua, who are members from the mining cooperative, diggers’ association and women’s group, are learning how to use these tools in a monthly practical training.
FrontPhoto:A beekeeper under training in Weasua builds a beehive ©Diamonds for Peace