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Paul Latham, author of Beekeeping in Central Africa, and Collins Kasimba from Mzuzu, who has 12 years beekeeping experience, discuss a number of issues.
Collins Kasimba writes: Beekeeping in Central Africa is a good book, but there are some areas where I would like to offer advice
How to catch a swarm (page 28 of the book) is not the best way to catch a swarm. What you can do is first spray the bees with water before putting them well down into the catching box. If you do what is indicated on the diagram, then all the bees will fly away after shaking them.
How to deal with pests (page 38). You are right on the distance from the ground to the body of the hive, but we do not know the distance between the poles. We think there should be 1.5 m between a pole and the hive side (that is 4.5 m between the poles).
Lastly, hives will need protection from the rain otherwise their lifespan will be very short.
Paul Latham replied
I heard from other people that the practice of spraying water on bees keeps them quiet, although I have not used it myself. Regarding the distance from the posts to the hive I have found this can vary and some beekeepers in Malawi allow about 2 m from the post to the hive to prevent honey badgers jumping on the hive.
Protection from rainwater damage is very important. In DR Congo people use pieces of corrugated iron and as long as they are wide enough to give a good overlap, this protects the sides of the hive from rain.
News from DR Congo
The Salvation Army in DR Congo has a long experience in beekeeping. In the early 1980s, Paul Latham from Scotland, UK arrived in Bas Congo Province and set up a project in Mbanza Nzundu area where men were trained as beekeepers. In 1999, women began to be interested in beekeeping and now are the best beekeepers in Bas Congo Province. In 2003, The Salvation Army introduced plastic hives because of wood scarcity and its high cost. A local initiative was to re-use plastic bowls, making a hole as the entrance for the bees, putting in top-bars and adding a metal sheet roof. New bowls are now bought to make the hives. The plastic hive costs the equivalent of US$25 which is half the price of wooden hives.
At the end of 2005, we held a Bees and Trees Day in Bandundu. 1,500 bee forage trees were planted and the partnership between tree growers and beekeepers was sealed.
Major Gracia Matondo, Salvation Army Development Officer in Bas Congo Province, DR Congo
Beekeeping in Central Africa (Code L125) and the French edition Apiculture en Bas-Congo (L120) are available from the BfD web store.