Facts about Kenya Top Bar and Langstroth Beehives

Kenya Top Bar and Langstroth hives are among the most common structures in which domesticated bees live. Undomesticated bee colonies live in natural hives. Men have been plundering natural hives for hundreds of years for honey, bee larvae, and beeswax. Today, the word hive generally refers to artificial man-made hives as opposed to natural ‘nests’ inhabited by colonies of undomesticated bees.

Modern hives are divided into two basic types of hives: “Langstroth hives”, which have closed frames to support the comb, and “The Kenya Top Bar Hive (KTBH)”, which only has a top bar to support the comb.

top bar hive

The use of the Kenya Top Bar Hive increased in Kenya in the 1970s. Since it is a mobile comb hive, it acts as a rational intermediate step between fixed comb hives and mobile frame (Langstroth) hives. Langstroth type hives. The hive combs can be removed and replaced without destroying them, like in traditional fixed frame hives. This makes it capable of controlling crowding and employing basic queen rearing techniques to improve colonies.

Top Bar Hives frames have only one top bar, and the bees make the honeycomb so that it hangs below the top bar. This makes it possible for the bees to store the honey separately from the areas where they are raising the brood, and the brood can survive the harvest. Honey production is relatively high because the bees have to rebuild the comb after each harvest. The honey is collected from newly constructed combs, making it of higher quality than honey collected from traditional fixed frame hives.

The two main drawbacks of Top Bar Hives are that it is difficult to move the colonies without breaking the combs and that the bee colony can only expand horizontally (since the combs are attached to the top bar of the hive). Although this may limit the increase in breeding, it should not greatly affect small-scale beekeeping projects. Top Bar Hives are all the rage in many developing countries, and are also used by small-scale beekeepers in the US and other countries.

Langstroth Hive

The American Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth, who invented and patented his design in 1860, named it the Langstroth hive. Langstroth-style hives are the generally accepted standard throughout the developed world, except for Great Britain, where the British Modified National Hive and WBC hives are the most widely used hive types.

All hives mentioned above are mobile frame hives, used in today’s beekeeping, technically superior. They let bees honeycomb frames, which includes a piece of beeswax stamped on both sides with a pattern of bee cells that serves as a base to ensure straight, centered combs in the frames. The main differences in the various mobile frame hives are in the size of the hives and the number of frames they contain.

A basic characteristic of this type of hive is that its structure offers space for the bees between the frames and between the frames and the box that supports them, which is the same space that the bees naturally maintain between their combs. This bee space allows the bees to move around and allows them to use multiple frame boxes in a solitary hive.

The moving frames in which the bees create their honey are placed inside standard-size rectangular boxes with no tops or bottoms. Boxes are loaded in piles. The lower boxes, called “hive bodies”, are used to keep the young bees (brood chamber). The boxes stacked on top are known as ‘supers’, and that’s where the honey is stored. The boxes can be made of wood or Styrofoam and the frames are suspended parallel to each other inside the boxes. Mobile frame hives make it possible to exchange frames and boxes without killing the bees, a system that allows a high level of beekeeping management.

The advantages of mobile structure Langstroth style hives are:

o Combs can be easily removed, inspected and exchanged

o The honeycombs are removed for harvesting, the honey is separated from the combs using centrifuges, and then the bare combs are returned.

o The bees do not need to rebuild new honeycombs and this increases honey production. The quality of the honey is also improved because only combs containing pure honey are removed and extracted.

o Because the combs are securely attached to the frame, bee colonies can be moved with limited comb breakage, meaning bee colonies can be easily moved to areas where nectar flow is better, for example .

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