Traditional beekeeping

A fixed comb hive is a hive in which the combs cannot be removed or manipulated for management or harvesting without permanently damaging the comb.

Almost any hollow structure can be used for this purpose, such as a log gum, skep, wooden box, or a clay pot or tube. Fixed comb hives are no longer in common use in industrialized countries, and are illegal in places that require movable combs to inspect for problems such as varroa and American foulbrood.

In many developing countries fixed comb hives are widely used because they can be made from any locally available material.

Beekeeping using fixed comb hives is an essential part of the livelihoods of many communities in poor countries. The charity Bees for Development recognizes that local skills to manage bees in fixed comb hives are widespread in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Internal size of fixed comb hives range from 32.7 liters (2000 cubic inches) typical of the clay tube hives used in Egypt to 282 liters (17209 cubic inches) for the Perone hive.

Straw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases.

However, skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives. Quinby used box hives to produce so much honey that he saturated the New York market in the 1860s. His writings contain excellent advice for management of bees in fixed comb hives.

Stripeikiai is the earliest known village in Aukštaitija National Park, Ignalina district. It is best known for its unique ethnographic beekeeping museum.

The museum was founded in 1974 by Bronius Kazlas at Vincas Bikus farmstead with a watermill and now receives about 10,000 visitors annually.

The museum is all about the traditional beekeeping which was cultivated in this area throughout the ages. Guests still can taste fresh honey during their visit to the museum.

Wooden hives in Stripeikiai honeymaking museum, Lithuania

1. Log Hives

A section from an old (hollow centred) beech, chestnut, spruce, juniper or linden tree with 30- 35 cm diameter is cut and a hole is drilled through the log to build a log hive. The length of the hive should be more or less the same with other hives that the beekeeper uses. The thickness of the log is generally around 6 cm although it changes depending on the tree used. An entrance hole is drilled on the front side and boards are place to the front and back of the hive.

Apiaries may be on steep aspect slopes2, in grooves on rocks, tree tops or they may be mademainly via way of means of constructing rectangle stone partitions of 1-1.five metre height.three Wooden forums are constant ontimber formed in L shape and established dealing with every different primarily based totally at the quantity of hives.

The stonewall is full of stones and pebbles and included with bark. Hives are positioned in a manner that their entrances are dealing with the morning solar and the gaps among and the pinnacle of the hives are stuffedwith bark. And metallic plates are positioned at the pinnacle for safety from rain and snow.

2. Skep Hives

The other most common and the oldest form of ‘karakovan’ is the skep hives that are used in many regions of Anatolia. Skeps are made of willow, hornbeam or hazelnut trees, reeds and similar plants and coated with animal dung, adobe or similar mixtures depending on the region.

Their shapes and sizes vary from region to region. For example skeps in Central Anatolia, in Muğla and in South Eastern Anatolia are cylindrical and they are 1 metre long and have diameters around 25 cm.

Skeps in the Thrace region are mostly conical with a height of 50-70 cm and diameter of 40 cm. There is a handle on top of the skep. Skeps are carried around using these handles and they facilitate taking swarms from branches.

Some beekeepers make their own skeps and some buy from traditional basket weavers. However basket weaving is also one of the traditional professions that have been mostly forgotten in Anatolia.

Skeps are coated before being used. Thanks to the coating, bees are protected from humidity
and cold in the winter and from heat in the summer.

In some regions skeps are coated/smeared only with mud and straws. Dry soil and thinly crushed straws named “kılçık(awn)” are used for the mud. In other regions, skeps are coated with a mixture of mud and
fresh cow dung.

It is recommended to apply the mixture one day after preparation. Some beekeepers do not prefer coating as the inside of the skep will be coated with propolis. Some beekeepers apply the mixture close to the opening of the skep to have better shaped combs.

After skeps are coated/smeared, they are left to dry and then wiped lightly with a wet cloth. If the skeps are going to be placed vertically, they are placed on a large wooden board leaving a hole in the front large enough for bees to enter.

The base of the skep is also coated to stop other pests from entering in the skep. Skeps smeared for winter preparation are additionally coated with local weeds, reeds.

Wintering in skeps is good. Bees fill the upper part with honey and lay eggs in the lower parts. With the cold entering into the skep from below, young bees move up in the skep where the honey is and protected from humidity and cold.

3. Ancient Apiaries

An old Turkish word, ‘seren’ can be roughly translated into English as apiary. A ‘seren’ is a structure built by placing alternately a layer of stone (30-40 cm) and a layer of wood (10-15 cm).

A platform of 3 metre height (460 x 400 cm) is placed on the main body and beehives are placed on this platform.

Hives are placed on top of each other almost in a comb shape, mud is used as an adhesive between these hives and the hives are covered with juniper bark and wooden boards.

Ancient Beehives of Tree Trunk and Straw

There is a small window big enough only to let a person in with some difficulty on the southwest wall, 30-50 cm below the roof covered with juniper woods.

Inside of the structure is filled with stone up to this window.A ‘seren’ looks like a Lycian tomb and can rise up to 7
metres and used to be built to protect bees and honey from wild animals most notably from bears and can house up to 60 beehives.

It is possible to reach to the platform by using the ends of the planks on the main body as steps.

4. House Apiaries in Bursa

There are recesses that work like beehives in the walls of adobe houses and their gardens in
Ürünlü/Kite neighbourhood of Nilüfer District in Bursa.

These houses were built of adobe and covered with clay and the beehives built into the recesses on the walls are not used today.

These recesses were probably covered with wooden boards when they were used and there were holes on these boards to let the bees fly in and out.

Apiaries in Ürünlü/Kite can be the continuation of an old tradition. According to the ancient writings from the Roman times, beehives were placed into the house walls to harvest honey. However apiaries are empty now since these houses are not occupied.

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