Bee keeping also known as Apiculture is the maintenance of bee colonies commonly man-made hives by humans. The person that keeps a bee is called an Apiarist and he does this to collect their honey and other products that the hive produce (which may include beeswax, Propolis, flower pollen, bee pollen and royal jelly) to pollinate crops or to produce bees for sale to other bee keepers. While a location where bees are kept is called an apiary or bee yard.
Traditionally bees are mostly kept in a fixed comb. A fixed comb is a hive in which the combs cannot be removed or manipulated for management or harvesting without permanently damaging the comb. Hollow structures such as log gum, skep, wooden box or a clay pot are commonly used.
In modern bee keeping Top bar hives have been widely adopted in Africa where they are used to keep tropical honey bee ecotypes. These hives have no frames and the honey- filled comb is not returned after extraction, they are often used for recreational purposes than for commercial honey production. These Top bars are light in weight, adaptable, easy to harvest honey and less stressful for the bees. But they aren’t with their disadvantages to because the combs are often fragile and cannot usually be extracted and returned to the bees to be refilled and they cannot easily be extracted for additional honey storage examples of Top bar hives include the Kenyan top bar hives with sloping sides, The Tanzanian Top Bar hive with straight sides and the vertical Top bar hives.
Another type of hives used in modern times for bee production is the Vertical stackable hives. There are three types of this hives they are – The hanging or top – access frame, Sliding or side success frame and the Top bar. The Hanging frame hives include the Langstroth, The British National Dadant, Layens and Rose. These hives are movable.
Bee keepers also wear protective clothings such as gloves, a hooded suitor hat and veil. The face and neck are the most important areas to protect so most bee keepers irrespective of their years of experience wear atleast a veil. It is notable to know that defensive bees are attracted to breath and a sting on the face can lead to severe pain. Stings retained in clothing fabric continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks thus it is important to wash suits and gloves regularly in vinegar to minimize attraction.
The bee keeper also carries a smoker to generate smoke. Smoke has been known to generally calm bees and thus initiate a feeding response in anticipation of a possible hive abandonment due to fire.
Bee rearing as a business is a great business that can be started in Nigeria for as low as a hundred thousand naira capital. No land is needed as it can be done on a small expanse of land or ket on a fruit farm with a lease agreement between the farmer and the bee keeper. It is profitable and has a ready market. But before venturing into bee farming, it is important to get the necessary training from expert and start from a small scale.