Wednesday, November 9, 2016


By Sara:

As part of my work with ADS (Anglican Development Service) here, I am assisting them with their new bee keeping project.  They have a bunch of beehives that were set up at Berea Farm in around May of this year.  I agreed to help check on the hives to see how the bees are doing.  So, Justus, the ADS director, and I suited up one evening.  The challenge was that the bee suits that they have were not particularly good ones.  The material is really thin nylon, so we made sure to wear heavy clothes underneath the suits (I also wore a sweatshirt with a hood to protect my ears) and hats.  Next time, they plan to have better suits.  At least we entertained people by looking seriously ridiculous!

The kids around the farm were extremely entertained by us.

 Here are some of the bee hives.  I find it really interesting, the way that they set up these Langstroth hives - wiring them to posts.  I've never seen Langstroth hives hanging, but it helps to keep ants from getting into the hives since they would have to climb up the post and then walk along the wire in order to get in.  It can also help to protect them from other animals that might try to get in at the honey.

One of the third-year college students, Phillip, is an expert bee-keeper so he came along to advise us.  And being extremely brave around bees, he took pictures from the nearby maize field while not wearing a bee suit (the good thing was that he was able to zoom in with the camera so he wasn't actually that close - still, I would never have gotten that close without a bee suit on!)

We found that bees have settled into three of the hives and are busy making honey and reproducing.  However, there isn't enough honey to harvest yet.  Phillip said that he would expect it to take about a year from bees moving into a hive to the time when you can harvest honey, so we will check again around February to see if there is honey to harvest then!

After leaving the hives, we lost the bees that wanted to follow us by weaving through a maize field, letting the plants brush the bees off and making it hard for them to stay after us.  When we got back to the non-bee-suited people, we found that one of the kids had made a cabbage hat.  I'm not sure how warm it could make your head, but maybe it helps keep rain off?


  1. In North America we hear about the "Africanized bees" that are so dangerous, the "Killer Bees." I thought African bees were supposed to be extremely aggressive and deadly. Is that not true? Or are those wild bees that live in some other part of Africa?

    1. These are African honey bees, not European honey bees, so yes, they are more aggressive. (The "killer bees" are a hybrid between African and European honey bees.) Their stings aren't more potent than the European bees - they are just more likely to follow someone farther and to sting than the European ones are. However, when taking the proper precautions (e.g. bee suit and smoker), they are safe to keep for honey.

  2. So brave! Have you seen Mr. Holmes the movie? It's so darling. About bees.

  3. I love this. You're adding a whole new field of expertise to your already considerable skill set! And the cabbage hat...well you hadn't thought of that one yet. 😜

  4. Perhaps cabbage keeps bees away!