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Apiary: Bees Need Supplementary Feeding

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As natural forage continues to dwindle near our homesteads, it is important to provide supplementary feeds for bees if they are to make honey faster.

“It is important that when you construct an apiary in an area without much forage, include a feeder house in which bees can easily access materials that they can convert into honey,” says Wilson Kabagambe, a farmer of Nakaseke Bee Keeping Project says. 

He explains that other than plant nectar, bees can eat flour, soya, sugary water, leftovers of sweet fruits, and water.

“You put up a stand near the hives and in it put these products for the bees to feed on,” he says.  This will not only stop the bees from moving longer distances looking for flowers but will quicken the honey processing in the hives.

Because of this, Kabagambe says that apiary can be practiced even in urban areas.  “Apiary can be practiced from anywhere in any space,” says Wilson Kabagambe, the owner of the hives. 

He adds, “As a consultant on apiary, I have many people in built-up areas like Kololo and Muyenga, who are maintaining hives in their compounds,” he says. Kabagambe advises that if it is an open urban area, the location of the bees should be fenced off to prevent people from reaching them.

“I have clients with compounds with trees that have hives,” he says.  Kabagambe says that in Europe and Asia, there are many people in urban areas who keep bees on the roofs of their residential houses and harvest the honey without any problems. Alternatively, you can set up a bee house for your apiary project.

“Bees do not routinely attack people. They only attack if provoked,” he says.  In urban areas, harvesting is done at night and by day time, bees are already settled and will not attack anybody. We no longer use the traditional harvesting system where bees are burnt and hives destroyed during harvesting. The surviving bees are so agitated because they have nowhere to live, hence attacking people,” he says.

Modern harvesting involves using smokers that only briefly chase away the bees as the harvest is done and they return to the hives soon after.

“My experience is that a hive in an urban area produces more honey and fills faster than one in the wild because urban areas have got more raw materials that bees convert into honey than the wild,” he says.

For example, there is a lot of sweet or sugary foods that are dumped in garbage bin in urban areas. Bees visit these, carry the sugar and immediately convert it into honey. “If you have a shop selling foods like maize flour, millet or even sugar, you see bees flying around. These are also easily converted into honey compared to nectar from flowers in the wild.

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