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African bees, you must be kidding?
Spend a day beekeeping in Rwanda!
Do I look crazy?
African bees have a certain reputation even amongst bee keepers.
When my cousin Mary told us that she’d arranged a special treat for the last couple of days of our visit we were apprehensive.
The beekeeper has traditional African hives and european style hives. We learned to make the drum shaped form first.
The sticks are placed in the ground around a woven centre piece. Then layers are built up in a basket fashion. The materials are eucalyptus sticks, bamboo and banana leaves. It’s wrapped in more leaves and sealed with mud. The beekeeper burns wood, wax and honey inside to sterilise it and this also attracts bees to their new home.
The inside of the hive is gradually filled with discs of cells. It represents the same shape as the natural tree home that a swarm might occupy. A bee keeper opening a hive can take out the layers of honey leaving the brood egg cell combs at the bottom. Hives are placed in trees among the branches horizontally.
The Rwandan bee keeper we spent our day with is now transferring his colonies to european style hives as they are easier to harvest from. We joined him in the hill side where the transfer process takes place.
When he opened the hive the swarm was a total contrast to the hives we’ve opened in Europe. An immense cloud swelled into the sky, buzzing like angry sports fans looking for a fight. They were all intent on warning us off. Although we were all fully covered from head to toe in double layers if clothing it wax un-nerving to have so much action from these bees.
African bees on film
Some of our group had no experience and when the bee keeper stood with two hands on the upended drum hive I knew what was coming but they did not. Up went the hive into the air. As it came down. He caught it with a massive thud!
Everyone gasped and the bees dropped out into their waiting new home.
It was a tremendous day! We learned a lot from the village which is part of a sustainable tourism project run by azizi life.
This organisation organises visits to local communities to experience real life. It added a completely new dimension to our trip in 2012.
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...