Simple beehives for organic honey

A simple beehive system directed at developing world rural communities, and which particularly offers them the chance of producing organic honey (which fetches over 100% price premium in European markets) has been developed by a South African beekeeper.
The simple construction means his beehives are cheap – they cost around about $25 each, equ A simple beehive system directed at developing world rural communities, and which particularly offers them the chance of producing organic honey (which fetches over 100% price premium in European markets) has been developed by a South African beekeeper.
The simple construction means his beehives are cheap – they cost around about $25 each, equivalent to over two conventional (Langstroth) brood chambers.In Mozambique, villagers are paid about $0.5/kg of organic honey and each hive produces about 40kg/year. A villager with 10 hives can thus earn about $200/year.The horizontal beehive system that Crispin Jackson of Rupert’s Honey has developed looks like a 1metre filing cabinet drawer containing frames for brood and honey production. The walling and lid is of food grade corrugated polycarbonate, to facilitate run-off of condensation water within the hive. In a wooden hive this moisture is absorbed by the wood, causing rotting.
The bees enter from a hole in one of the short sides of the drawer and naturally make their brood chambers close to the entrance, says Jackson. They deposit honey further from the entrance, so a natural division occurs which allows the beekeeper to collect honey rather than brood material.
Conventional wax foundation can be used in the frames, but Jackson says it is both unnecessary and expensive – he prefers only a thin sheet of waxed paper which is placed in the top bar of the frame in order to provide an initial guide for the bees. This paper is made from soaking absorbent paper in beeswax.
Being on one level, Jackson’s hives are unlike conventional commercial hives which have the brood chamber below and the “super” which contains the honey above.
Their light construction means they can be suspended in trees (see picture) – advantageous both for the person who extracts the honey and for the bees, improving accessibility for all.
EXTRACTION
Jackson has also developed simple extraction technology which does not require electricity. In the extraction process: The comb with honey is cut out from the frame and placed in a 100 litre (20 gallon) plastic drum. The drum, called a hippo roller is pulled around on the ground by the detachable handle, the comb within is broken and much of the honey then separates naturally. The drum is left standing vertically overnight to increase separation. During that time, the comb pieces, which are lighter, float to the top.
To extract the remaining fraction of honey, these combs are skimmed off, crushed and placed on a conveyor and sieve system. The sieve system is made from plastic netting.
The extracted honey is then filtered through a system of baffles, to extract pieces and impurities. The honey produced is slightly cloudy normally because of the presence of pollen and because it is not pressure filtered.
ORGANIC HONEY
Jackson is currently involved in production of organic honey from about 1,000 hives in Mozambique.
He says it is difficult for conventional beekeepers in developed countries to produce organic honey because there are strict requirements for organic honey:
Production must be beyond five kilometres of conventional commercial agriculture (and particularly agriculture using genetically modified crops) and major trunk roads. No chemicals may be used for containing disease. First World beekeepers are particularly plagued by the varroa mite, which is – so far – not a problem in most developing countries. Bees may not be fed with sugar solution.
By contrast, communities in remote areas can generally meet these conditions easily.
HUMIDITY AND WAX
A problem in humid areas is that honey may be of high water content. If water content is 22% or over, it will ferment during the export shipping process and be valueless. To reduce the water content a central processing plant involving a hot, evaporation room is thus required.
Wax from the combs is normally thrown away in Africa. However, it can also be harvested for export or used in making local products. It fetches a higher price than honey.
AGENTS
Remote community production systems generally work best with the beekeepers selling their production to agents who aggregate production and export to Europe.
Jackson has considerable expertise in production of organic honey for export and can point agents to buyers in Europe.
JACKSON: crispin@rupertshoney.co.za Tel +27 12 650 0064 cell +27 82 8713319 Fax +27 12 650 0207 www.rupertshoney.co.za
SIMILAR EQUIPMENT FROM:
Honeybee Foundation:
honeybee@global.co.za Tel: +27 21 5114567 Fax +27 21 5119962
TO E-MAIL THE SUPPLIERS, CLICK BELOW