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Bees for Babar (BfB) beneficiaries include bees...bee_biology_bees_at_entrance_of_ktbh.jpg

Guard bees on duty at the entrance of a Kenya Top Bar Hive (KTBH) in Mognori. Honeybee nests were traditionally hunted in the area for their honey and the colonies destroyed in the process of harvesting. KTBH's provided to community members in Mognori allow honey producers to harvest honey without killing colonies.

Bees of Mognori...

   

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Apiaries were often sited near locations where wild hives occurred. Numerous wild hives indicated that there was ample forage in the area and provided a "seed source" for swarms that could occupy bait hives. Wild nests have often provided opportunity to train beekeepers on the removal of nuisance hives and wild nest transferring techniques.

 

 

The local strain of bee in Ghana, Apis mellifera adonsonii, is more defensive than races of bees commonly used in europe and north america but is well-adapted to the tropical conditions in which it has evolved. here worker bees are shown tending a comb of packed pollen or bee-bread. the comb itself is constructed from wax that forms as small scales on glands on the undersides of the workers abdomens.

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Kenya Top Bar Hives allow for the construction of naturally v-shaped combs. A central ridge along the lower portion of the bar serves to guide the construction of comb.

During swarm season, empty KTBH hives can be baited by rubbing the insides with beeswax and lemongrass-- which contains the same chemical that bees use to mark their nest entrances. This hive had attracted a swarm within half an hour of being left out and the bees are still in the process of entering their new home. 

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Aside from humans, other colonies are probably the greatest threat to established colonies-- as strong populations will attack nearby weaker neighbours.  Here workers can be seen at the entrance of a KTBH in a typical defensive stance reminiscent of a karate pose.  They will examine incoming foragers and will challenge any that they do not recognize, from odour cues, as nest-mates.  Note that the entrances are cut in notches to allow bees to more easily guard access to the brood-nest and honey stores.

 

 

Drones and queens perform none of the resource gathering or nest maintenance duties for the colony-- all of which are undertaken by the workers. Instead, the principle role of the reproductives is the most crucial biologically-- that of perpetuating the colony's genes into the future. Drones, such as that at left at a hive entrance amongst many workers, are often mistaken by novice beekeepers as queens.

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The drone, at right, can be distinguished by its large eyes that touch in the center of the head when viewed from above. The abdomen of the male bees is rounder at the end than for the workers or queens. The abdomens of drones are usually darker than that of the queen or workers and have less noticeable banding.

 

 

The queens of  Apis mellifera adonsonii, are more skittish than those of strains evolved in temperate zones.  The latter will generally stay on combs during hive revisions whereas African queens will often scurry down onto the bottom of the hive or into recesses and will even sometimes fly out onto nearby vegetation or even onto the beekeeper. 

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The queen is certainly the most important individual bee in the colony, for there is normally only one queen. This is not to say that her role is any more important than that of the other castes in the colony, only that this role is entrusted to a single individual in the hive, whereas there are numerous members of the other two castes.
   
The queen is basically a lean, preened egg-laying machine. Her abdomen is long to accommodate the numerous ovarioles that can produce over two thousand eggs per day and her body takes on a sleek, glossy look from the constant grooming she receives from attendant workers, whose ministrations wear the fine hairs off her body, particularly the top of her thorax (the notum). The queen is most easily located amongst the seething masses of her daughters not by her size but by her color. She is usually of less varied and lighter coloration, and her legs are slimmer and usually an orange-blonde color-- as compared to dark brown for drones and workers.
bee_biology_queen_Tamale

 

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