In life being innovative in one way or the other has the solutions to those who take a practical approach. Juventin Ecumu, 47, a farmer in Kyere Sub County, Serere District, uses spear grass and Lantana camara for making beehives that stand the test of time.
In his village just like in many communities, spear grass has been known for thatching huts, but to the surprise of many, Ecumu has taught them that spear grass provides the best wall surface for combs where honey can be got from in the beehives.
Making the hive
Lantama camara is mostly known as an invasive species that spreads quickly over an area choking out other plants. But to Ecumu, the stalks offer the skeleton or frame for the hive. He curls in bundles of three into circular structure to form the “skeleton” of the hive. Then at the top of this, he places long but straight sticks, which are knotted at the top of the structure.
“The gaps between one stick to the other must be about a centimetre or two until the whole circumference is covered,” he explains. It is over this that one places fresh spear grass, either horizontally or even vertically, depending on which one way saves time. Then, fasten a water-proof polythene sheet on the spear grass with small metallic wires to prevent it from slipping off.
At both the openings of the beehives, fix a wire mesh to separate the breeding ground for the bees from where the queen mother will be. For this, use a metallic or plastic material or banana fibre to cover the sides but with a small entrance left for the bees.
In place of spear grass, you can use papyrus as the inner wall surface then also cover with polythene sheet. Add polythene to prevents entry of water into the beehives during rainy season, which has the potential of affecting the quantity and quality of the honey.
Also, one can use burnt bricks to put up a beehive, by setting up four pillars to make a structure. On top, place the Latana camara sticks at the bottom and on top, saying it is on the top that the bees will breed and form honey combs.
“But you ought to have small holes at both sides for beehive aeration and this also act the entrance, and wire mesh in the middle” Ecumu notes.
He attests that like the modern beehives, this locally made beehive attracts bees fast after its hanged. And that output in terms of honey harvested exceeds 20 kilogrammes that the recommended Langstroth beehives by apiarists give upon harvesting.
“I started doing this to get an alternative to the modern beehive, whose price is high. Before I passed the knowledge to my fellow farmers, they doubted its effectiveness but today they are thanking me,” he said.