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HomeFarmingA greater hive for simpler beekeeping

A greater hive for simpler beekeeping

The Barnes household produces honey below the Cape Honey Manufacturing facility model title. Photograph: Provided

Beekeepers have used wooden for his or her hives since time immemorial, and beekeeper Ryno Barnes of Hout Bay within the Western Cape was no exception. Wooden is pure, protected, straightforward to work with and comparatively reasonably priced.

About 5 years in the past, nevertheless, a rising concern about deforestation led Barnes to start out on the lookout for materials to exchange wooden in his beehives.
Plastic, he explains, is unsuitable as it’s non-recyclable and bees are delay by its odor.

“Plastic could be chemically handled to beat the odor, however this might negatively have an effect on bee well being and the atmosphere,” he says.

After three years, he roughly gave up his search, because it seemed to be going nowhere.

Then in 2020, an engineer talked about to him {that a} British firm was utilizing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) foam board in medical centres and retail cabinets. The fabric appeared promising, so he imported some boards of it and constructed quite a few Langstroth hives. “I caught with the Langstroth design, as a result of it’s straightforward to move and work with,” he explains.

Throughout exams this 12 months, Barnes discovered that the hives not solely ticked all the appropriate bins for him, however supplied extra advantages, too.

Ryno Barnes (proper), his mom Lynette (center) and spouse Amori are all concerned within the beekeeping enterprise.

“I used to be so happy with the product that I entered right into a provide settlement with the producer to turn out to be the only provider of hives constituted of its PVC foam board. I then began the corporate Giro Hives as an extension of our household beekeeping enterprise, the Cape Honey Manufacturing facility,” he says.

Since then, he has changed 280 of Cape Honey’s previous hives with new ones, retaining the picket hives for catching swarms.

The advantages
Barnes says that PVC foam board is way superior to plastic as it’s recyclable, eco-friendly, and doesn’t repel bees.

“We didn’t expertise any issues in settling swarms within the new hives. They took to them as they did to picket ones.”

He provides that PVC foam board can also be much more sturdy than wooden, being waterproof, UV-, weather-, chemical- and fire-resistant. For that reason, he sells the hives with a three-year guarantee.

As well as, the fabric is formaldehyde-free and has thermal properties that assist to maintain the inside of the hive at a continuing, comfy temperature.

Despite the fact that it’s antibacterial, the fabric doesn’t provide safety in opposition to American foulbrood, a illness that’s decimating bee colonies internationally. Barnes explains that this bacterial illness, which destroys the brood, is transmitted and dispersed by varied vectors, together with employee bees.

The fabric, however, is termite-proof, which additionally helps to elongate the lifetime of the hive.

“It particularly helps to [keep wax moths at bay], which at this stage are an excellent higher drawback than American foulbrood,” says Barnes.

Wax moths drill holes and lay their eggs within the frames of picket hives. Their burrowing larvae gnaw by the wooden, destroying complete combs, taking up hives and finally driving the bees out of the colony. Barnes says wax moth is very prevalent in areas the place pine and Eucalyptus bushes are widespread; fynbos areas are much less affected.

Lighter and cheaper
One other benefit of PVC foam board is that it weighs as much as one-third lower than wooden, making it a lot simpler to work with. That is necessary, as a typical hive can weigh something from 30kg to 50kg. The fabric can also be barely cheaper than wooden.

“The hives could be ordered on-line from us, assembled or unassembled, and we now have a longtime agent in Namibia. We’re in negotiations with some agricultural retailers that inventory picket hives to incorporate Giro Hives of their providing,” says Barnes.

Being the only proprietor of the hives, he’s additionally on the lookout for export alternatives and brokers to assist handle gross sales. “In the intervening time, it’s cheaper for the British firm to export the fabric to South Africa, after which import the completed product to be offered there.”

The hives could be produced in varied colors, however Barnes is reluctant to do that, as portray a hive might diminish its UV safety, which in flip might scale back its longevity.
Fundamental care of the hives is not any totally different to that of the usual picket ones; they require some annual upkeep similar to repairing and changing broken components, changing wax, and putting in excluders and supers.

Including worth
The household’s innovation doesn’t finish with Giro Hives. They’re additionally the primary and possibly solely firm in South Africa to have developed a propolis tincture issued with a Certificates of Evaluation.

Barnes explains that propolis, which bees produce as a sealant, has antiseptic, antioxidant and antibacterial properties and can be utilized to deal with candida, throat infections, eczema, emphysema, bacterial illnesses and cuts, and boosts immunity.

“Individuals who purchase propolis achieve this for well being causes, in order that they search for an natural, standardised product.”

Barnes began experimenting with propolis tincture formulation in 2016. His analysis and product testing resulted in a superbly balanced tincture manufactured from uncooked natural propolis that can be utilized in magnificence and wellness formulation, topically or intravenously, and is offered through their firm, Propolis Africa.

“There are three totally different strengths of propolis offered internationally: 35%, 55% and 75%. Ours was stronger than 75%, which was not allowed, so we needed to scale back the content material.”

Certification of the tincture is finished by Afriplex. “It’s actually costly, as every batch must be examined, however we determined to do that in an effort to differentiate our product from others and provides customers peace of thoughts,” he says.

Barnes says South African customers usually are not as conscious of the advantages of propolis as individuals elsewhere, and the identical applies to honey.

“Individuals often purchase honey for its well being advantages. The issue is that the market is flooded with imported honey, and this, by regulation, needs to be irradiated, which destroys the wholesome enzymes within the honey. Adulterated product is one other drawback; a few of these merchandise don’t comprise any honey.”

Barnes, nevertheless, is assured that authorities and the South African Bee Trade Organisation is elevating consciousness and clamping down on this drawback, with many customers now particularly on the lookout for uncooked honey, and patrons who used to import merchandise now on the lookout for native suppliers.

“Individuals are not afraid to spend cash on honey, however they don’t need to waste their cash on an inferior product,” he says.

The advantages of a few of South Africa’s honey merchandise are additionally undersold. “New Zealanders have achieved a sterling job in positioning manuka honey as the very best on this planet, however exams have confirmed that fynbos honey is even higher. Additionally, in the event you’re going to purchase honey to assist for hay fever, the honey needs to be from the area the place you reside,” says Barnes.

Vandalism is one other drawback. “Sadly, many of the theft is dedicated by beekeepers, pushed by the scarcity of bees as pollinators and to supply honey. A beekeeper in Swellendam misplaced 150 hives in a single night time, and it’s an issue in every single place. It’s not solely the hive that you just lose, however the swarm in addition to the revenue that might have been generated by pollination companies and honey.”

Barnes is however optimistic in regards to the alternatives supplied by the business. “There’s an amazing demand for beekeepers, as there merely aren’t sufficient bees to fulfill the rising demand for honey and pollination companies, due to the affect of American foulbrood, European foulbrood and vandalism.”

E-mail Ryno Barnes at [email protected], or go to or



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