Notes to broadcasters
This script is one of a series about beekeeping. Your listeners’ understanding will be more complete if this script is used with the following:
A few beehives can be an important addition to your farm. Bees produce honey and wax. You can sell the honey and wax to earn some money.
And there are other benefits that honey bees bring. Bees pollinate crops. That means that they carry pollen from plant to plant which helps the new fruits and seeds to form. So if you keep bees, your crop yields will probably increase.
You may already have heard about different beehives that can be used and about how bees make honey. Today we are going to talk about the equipment you will need to start beekeeping.
Most of the equipment that you will need should be easy to get. To start, you will need only the hive and four other items. You will need a hive tool, a smoker, clothing that protects your whole body, and a bee veil. One day if you plan to get more hives, you may need some more special equipment.
Let’s start by discussing the hive tool because it may be the most useful tool that you will use. It is a sharp tool used for opening the cover of the hive, prying apart frames, and scraping off bits of beeswax. Some people use an old knife, but it must be a strong one that doesn’t bend.
Another useful tool is a smoker. A beekeeper uses a smoker to blow smoke into and around the hive. The smoke calms the bees. It doesn’t hurt them and it makes them more manageable. A smoker is made from a large tin can or a metal box.
There are two kinds of smokers. One has bellows attached to the side. The bellows puff smoke out of the can. The other type is the blow type smoker. In this type, the smoke is produced by blowing through a hole at the bottom of the smoker. Blow type smokers are easy to make and good for beginners with just one or two hives. In both types the lid of the tin can should open so you can put the fuel in. Use paper, dry grass, or leaves to start a small fire in the can. Then you can burn cow or donkey dung, straw or even old rags. These things work well because they burn very slowly and produce a cool, even smoke.
For your safety when you are working with bees, wear clothing that completely covers your body. Coveralls are best. Or you can wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt tucked into the pants, and gloves. A good cover of clothing will protect you from bee stings and boost your confidence when handling bees for the first time.
Always wear white or light coloured clothing when working with bees. Light coloured clothes will help to keep you cool. Dark colours make bees angry. Tuck in all the clothing you are wearing and completely close any openings so bees can’t crawl up your trouser legs or shirt sleeves.
You will also need a hat with a net or screen attached to the brim to cover your face. Some people call this a bee veil. Normally this is a hat with a wide brim. A veil, usually made of mosquito netting, is attached to the brim. A bee veil protects your head, face, and neck from bee stings. If you have long hair you should tie it back so that the bees do not get tangled in it and get angry.
Even if you wear clothing that protects your body, you will still get stung by bees. This is part of the job. Here are a few helpful hints to reduce the number of bee stings you get.
- Don’t wear perfumes and smelly lotions when working with bees.
- Move slowly and calmly when working with bees. Bees are attracted to quick movements.
- Work early in the morning or in the evening when bees are not as active.
- If bees get out of control while you are working with them, close the hive and move away slowly.
- If you get stung, remove the stinger by scraping it out along the surface of the skin with a fingernail or knife. Don’t pull the sting straight out because you will force the bee venom (poison) into the skin.
Learn as much as you can from beekeepers in your community. Talk to them about their equipment and ask them to share useful hints and ideas about working with bees.
If you or anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings it is not advisable to raise bees. Allergic reactions associated with bee stings can be severe. When a person has an allergic reaction, the following symptoms develop: itchy hands and feet; rash (red itchy bumps) on body; swollen throat; and difficulty breathing.
Stings cause minor swelling on most people but this is normal and does not indicate an allergy.
- This script was researched and written by Erik Nielsen, Toronto, Canada. It was published with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada.
- “The bee smoker, an important tool”, Agriculture in Action, November 1987. Published by the Barbados Agricultural Society.
- Introduction to beekeeping, First edition, 1988. Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, P.O. Box 162, Mbabane, Swaziland.
- Bee-keeping, 1990, Training in agriculture-Booklet 237. INADES-Formation, Kenya.
- “Beekeeping“, AT Brief No. 7, in Appropriate Technology, Volume 20, No. 4, March 1994, pages 17-18. Intermediate Technology Publications, 103-105 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4HH, U.K.
- “Sweet harvest: Beekeeping by smallholders”, ILEIA Newsletter, Volume 9, No. 1, March 1993. Information Centre for Low-External-Input and Sustainable Agriculture (ILEIA), Kastanjelaan 5, P.O. Box 64, NL-3830 AB Leusden, Netherlands.