Improvised protective equipment for beekeepers

Locally made-up smokers and overalls are used for inspection or harvesting the hives as an improvised equipment. These have also become expensive and are often shared by a group of beekeepers.

A group of women beekeepers prepare to harvest honey near Kavwaya

Improvised protective overalls

The coveralls are made from old flour sacks with a square of strong plastic netting sewn in to protect the face.

A protective bee suit enables the beekeeper to work with bees calmly and safely. And a pair of ordinary trousers can be used as an alternative to the bottom half of the suit. Design by Ntangu Targou. A bee veil/hood with foam padding sewn in to protect the head from stings will serve the purpose. Picture on the right shows the preparation to inspect hives at Targou’s apiary near Kisantu

Improvised smokers

The smokers are made from metal sheeting with the bellows made from an inner tube and half a bedspring.

Plan of a bee smoker using palm oil waste as smoker fuel, Diagram: Ntangu Targou. And oil palm waste can be used in a smoker when inspecting bee hives or harvesting honey

Banikina Boger, a village tinsmith making up a bee smoker from waste metal sheet. Next to it: Gros Jos, the village mechanic at Mbanza Nzundu, with items, including a smoker, made up from scrap metal and a car inner tube. Generally, the smoker should produce plenty of cool smoke

Improvised bamboo smoker

A simple bee smoker can be made up from a large diameter section of bamboo containing a node. A small hole is pierced through the node end and the section is cut through to allow a wide hole at the other end.

Some suitable material, palm oil waste for example, is pushed in together with a piece of glowing charcoal and then more palm oil waste until the tube is full. Air can then be blown through the small hole at the node end to produce a cool smoke from the opposite end.

Two holes should be bored opposite each other at the wide end, with a short piece of wire to hold the palm oil waste from falling out. The bamboo tube must be large enough to contain sufficient palm oil waste to last through an inspection or harvest operation.

Lessons learned from improvised equipment for beekeepers

  • For handling live bee hives it is necessary to take safety precautions
  • Protective overalls including rubber gloves, boots, and a mosquito net in front of the face have to be worn
  • Improvised smokers will drive bees off their hive