When I first visited Rwandan countryside, I already saw traditional beehives placed on some trees around the country, and I was very curious and exited to see our local « manufacturer » at work. So I asked Aly, the Technical Manager of the project to organize a meeting with Michel, the local expert of the bees and traditional beehive to see the manufacturing of a Rwandan traditional beehive.
The manufacturing process follows the steps belows :
Building the structure
After having positioned a metal disk (the same as those used for the grinder), Michel is inserting eucalyptus sticks around it.
Once these sticks (rods) positioned, Michel takes some reeds and cut them in the longitudinal direction to obtain « ribbons ». Those ribbons are weft between the sticks (wand) up to the top to completely cover the structure.
He is using “cow dung” as coating for the structure to fill the gaps and let everything dry under the sun. On one side of the “hive”, he makes a cover and on the other side, he close the hive with cow dung, taking care to leave two holes for the passages of the bees.
Letting it dry
Once Everything is totally dry, Michel takes dried banana leaves and covers the structure to protect the hive from the rain. Everything is strongly tied up to withstand wind.
Before positioning them on the trees, Michel exposes the hive to the sun, in selected areas, in order for the hive to be impregnated with the “special” heat which makes them more welcoming for the bees …
Welcoming the bees !
Michel Also has a secret to attract bees. As only a few days were enough to see our first 18 traditional hives get its first tenants.
As we are in the rainy season, we will have to wait until May to “move” our bees to modern beehives. Once again, I’m curious to see how the other local specialist, which I do not know the name yet, will make it. It seems that this is not child’s play!
Now you know almost everything about the production of traditional beehives. The rest is a matter of technique and skills. Once you have your eucalyptus sticks and your reeds, it will do more than provide you good … “dung”!
A great thanks to Michel, which did a great job with the 18 traditional beehives and took the time to explain us the manufacturing process of traditional beehives !
We will keep you updated about the project. If you wish to participate to this project, please go to our Indiegogo project page.
To nicely finish this wonderful day, back home I was gratified with a nice Rwandan sunset 🙂