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Clay pots have a long history of daily use in our society for cooking, for water and grain storage. Changes in lifestyle are threatening the use of clay pots and consequently the livelihoods of the women who make them.
A major problem was how to harvest this type of hive? You cannot harvest without disturbing the whole hive. The process destroys some comb and consequently developing bees. Also you cannot be sure when is the right time to harvest to get maximum honey without too much disruption.
With information I had gathered from BfD Journal I started to investigate how I could improve on this type of hive to make it more manageable and productive. I borrowed an idea from my beekeeping friend Peter Peterson and developed a pot hive with two chambers (brood chamber and super).
I drilled a hole in the top pot and a small hole in the top of the brood pot (where the super pot rests) to allow the worker bees access to the super, but the size of the hole excludes the queen. The pots are fastened together by wire.
Now I can open and check the supers for honey without disturbing the whole hive. It is also easy to remove the super pot and replace it with another during harvesting.
I included six of these hives in my apiary.
All the hives were occupied after a short time. To try and prevent ant attacks I put the hives on stands. Despite this two hives did get attacked by safari ants and the bees absconded. I am however confident that the bees will soon return, and I am continuing to include more pot hives in my apiary.
There are several advantages to using clay pot hives:
· Unless forcefully or accidentally broken, clay pots will last much longer than wood.
· Pot hives do not rot, are not eaten by destructive insects and are less affected by weather conditions.
· Using pot hives helps sustain the environment: no trees are cut down to make the hives and bees pollinate the trees.
· Clay pot hives will create employment for women who make the pots thus helping with their income.
[Bees for Development Journal #65]