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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bee Keeping Equipments

BEE KEEPING EQUIPMENTS are important for those who are involved in the bee keeping industry. This article is to introduce the basic requirement or a necessity for a new beekeepers. The information I gathered from my own experience during my tenure at DOA Melaka and teach new farmers in bee keeping project under coconut area. Bee Keeping in Malaysia is a new farming activities with Apis cerana and new introduction of Apis mellifera in coconut and pineapple area. Total beekeepers in Malaysia about 50-70 farmers with 2,500 - 3,000 hives. Every beekeeper needs a set of equipment to manage their hives. The exact form of the equipment may vary, and one person may have items another does not. The items listed on this page represent the basic set of equipment most beekeepers need, but they are listed in order of relative importance, from absolutely mandatory at the top of the list to completely optional at the bottom.

1. Stainless Steel Smoker
Smoker is an important equipments for bee keepers to reduce the bees activities before we can manage the hives. There is a standard design of Smoker used in this industry. Even if we don't buy any other equipment but we has to get a smoker. It is the most important item of beekeeping equipment we can own. We may be able to do without all the other basic equipment, although that is not recommended, but a good smoker is absolutely necessary. Proper use of a smoker makes it possible to manage the hives, since the honeybees remain docile while we have the hive open. Not using a smoker virtually guarantees stings for the beekeeper and others nearby, and will cause the colony to be more aggressive into the future. Price of local smoker range between RM 20.00 - RM 30.00 per unit. With proper maintenance and storage a smoker able to last for 5 years.

2. Bee Suit
Bee Suit able to protect the bee keepers from any possible attack from bee sting. In Malaysia the use of Bee Suit is not a practice for Apis cerana farmers due to the small bee size. The warm and high humidity climate in Malaysia cause sweating if not properly choose the bee suit material. It costs about RM 150 - RM 200 per unit of bee suit in Malaysia. In the long run, a good bee suit pays for itself by keeping you from getting stung as you work the hives. It accomplishes this by giving our body physical protection from stings, keeping the honeybees from crawling into your clothes, masking your body odor, and presenting to the bees a non-irritating color (white) that doesn't make our body a sting target, as darker colors will do. If we are working in the direct sun, it may also keep us cooler temperate country and it reflects the sun's radiation. Normally the suit modified for the Malaysian climate for lowland area.

3. Old-style hat and veil
Bee Hat & Veil are the most important equipment after all. Don't act as a hero or owner to the bees. It can attack any time without notice ! I had few jap during my first time dealing with Apis cerana and I can/t take it anymore by wearing Veil. Veil are other important equipment items to own are a bee hat and a good veil if your bee suit doesn't already provide these. They are critical in keeping bees away from your most vulnerable targets -- your head and neck.
A separate hat and veil are not required with a more convenient bee suit. With this suit, the veil and hat are integrated and much more convenient. The cost is ranged between RM 12.00 - RM 15.00 per unit of veil. We can prepare our own traditional veil by our own design as soon as it functions.

4. Steel hive tool

4.1 Steel frame lifter and scraper
Hive Tools include the steel frame and scraper to clean the hives. The tool cost only about RM 5.00 - RM 10.00 depend on quality and size. These are handy gadgets to have in our equipment inventory. They come in various styles and the most common being the "hive tool".

4.2 Cotton or leather bee gloves
Gloves are important to protect our hand from bee sting. I normally use a cotton gloves costs about RM 1.00 - RM 1.50 a pair and comfortable with high humidity and warm weather in Malaysia for Apis cerana management. Bee gloves able prevent the bees from stinging our hands (usually) and keep them from crawling up inside your sleeves. But we don't recommend you wear them when you are working the hives in most situations. Use gloves only for risky situations.

4.3 Bee brush
Bee Brush also a necessity tools in bee rearing industry even though I seldom use for Apis cerana but yes for a Apis mellifera hives. A bee brush is used to brush bees off things we don't want them on, namely yourself. Use a bee brush rarely and judiciously, as bees really don't like being brushed.

4.4 Ankle or wrist straps
Ankle and Wrist Straps is an extra equipment to protect ourselves. Even though these items are completely optional, but are nice if our bee suit or clothing doesn't have built-in means of sealing up your pants legs and sleeve cuffs.

5. Honey Comb Extractor
The honey comb extractor are made from stainless steel material for honey extraction in the comb. The cylindrical container able to extract 6-8 comb per process based on the size. The price of honey extractor range from RM 800.00 to RM 1,200 from authorised supplier. The honey collected from the outlet pipe at the bottom of the container.

6. Gelodog
Gelodog are the coconut trunk with an open space inside to trap the bees especially the wild local Lebah Keran (Apis cerana). This gelodog function as a 'trap' as original hives for wild bee and placed 3-5 feet under the coconut or fruit tree vegetation. The wild bee colony will be transfer ed to a modern hives for commercial management system. The price of gelodog between RM 20.00 - RM 25.00 per unit.

7. Hives
Modern hives for bee fabricated from best quality plank with various size and height. Hives mostly in rectangular shape with one entry doors or windows. Local hives consists of 10-12 frames per layer. The lowest hives higher than the upper layer hives. The upper layer hives designed for storage of the honey bee. From my experience the local hive priced from RM 50.00 - RM 70.00.

The bee industry in Malaysia are at slow move since 15 years ago when there is not a heavy push by authority and private sector. The Malaysia Bee Association try to more aggressive in be rearing especially during dry season from January to March each year and September - October. New flushing rubber trees produce a huge number of nectar to be collected every season. The annual production of bee honey under coconut vegetation only about 5-7 kg per hive recorded with Apis cerana. The Apis melifera able to produce about 8 - 12 kg per hive annually under coconut and other nectar source in Johore. Bee Keeping in Malaysia need more technologies to suit the warm, humid and heavy rainfall factors. I hope this article able to add our knowledge.


M Anem

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