The Langstroth Beehive and apiary design

Being less disruptive to bees during inspections and its better yields in terms of honey production compared to others, this is the most recommended beehive. The brood chamber and the honey super are divided such that only the available honey is harvested. The frames of the super fit perfectly into the extractor and in this way the combs are not destroyed every time honey is harvested.

Annual production of different beehives

Hive type

Average annual production in Kg

Langstroth

40

Kenya Top Bar Hive

30

Traditional Log Hive

20

Others

10

The Langstroth hive is easier to move during migration and easier to capture a swarm of bees with. Better quality honey is obtained because less smoke is used. However they are more costly and require a good knowledge of the cycles and bee ecology. The wood must be well seasoned.

The important components of a Langstroth hive are

Langstroth beehive

  1. Floor board
  2. Brood chamber (also called deep super)
  3. Queen exclude
  4. Super (also called shallow super)
  5. Clearer board
  6. Frame for entrance to protect bees against the wind and to provide a comfortable space (in case it is not available)
  7. Inner cover
  8. Outer cover
  9. Angle line
  10. Two screen separators

The parts should have the recommended dimensions and must fit perfectly with one another. It is very important to use well seasoned wood which should preferably be hard wood. Pines or cypress can also be used. Grevilea robusta can be used but the wood is not durable. Avoid knots when making the hive as they are likely to cause cracks. Use a flame to kill parasites that hide in angles and joints of the hive box and frames.                                                                                                                                                             

Designing an apiary

The three most important factors to consider when designing an apiary are:

  1. The botanical species available (wild plants and shrubs, vegetables, fruits and cereals)
  2. The possibility of introducing new bee botanical species
  3. Knowledge of the blossoming period of the species concerned
  • Generally the flowers and plantation should be as close as possible to the hive. Although bees operate within a radius of 3km, the closer the source of food the higher the number of trips to collect it. An ideal source of food should be within a radius of 1km.
  • Orient the hive south – east to anticipate the bees’ work in the morning. If the hives faces a thick forest or vegetation, it is advisable to cut the vegetation and create some corridors whereby bees can easily move in and out.
  • Position the hives at a minimum height of 50cm from the ground in order to prevent excessive humidity.
  • Keep a sidewalk within a distance of about 50cm from one another if the hives are in a row. This helps in handling during inspections and other operations. Hives should be about 3m apart.
  • Ensure that bees can locate a water source 20 to 30 meters from the hive.
  • Check whether the wind negatively affects the bees at work. Protect the apiary with shrubs or plants that diminish the force of the wind if the areas are affected by harsh wind. Also put a frame at the entrance of the hive to protect the bees against the wind. A good aeration and positioning in a sunlit area makes the hives comfortable.
  • Access to the hives should be easy, comfortable and designed in a way that the entrance leads towards the back of the hives.
  • Cover the hives with a roof made of tree branches, entwined grass, canvass or mat helps in preventing excessive heat or moisture in hot areas with high temperatures or heavy rains. Corrugated iron sheet should be avoided because it will heat up the hive underneath.

 


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