Bees for Development Journal Edition 61 - December 2001

Page 6

Beekeeping & Development 61



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Gunnar Barnes, Dickson, USA This article shares some designs

PIS CERANA in low-cost hive making, tested in Bangladesh. The

clay block hives are easy to make

once the set of moulds are made. The hives are durable, especially when reinforced with 2 kg of Portland cement. The trials suggested that the hives were acceptable to the bees. The hives are heavy and unsuitable for migratory

beekeeping. However families with few hives usually do not practise this type of beekeeping.

MOULD ASSEMBLY Components A, B, C and D are the main mould parts *

Component A

is the Insert for making the

brood and honey chamber. It is made from

either an iron sheet or wood or a

combination of these.

260 mm (10%”) long by 216 mm (8%”) wide by 267 mm (10%”) deep. these are inserts used to

Component B make inspection channel

‘’, which can also

be used when cleaning the hive floor.

Component C forms the Insert to make the bee entrance ‘u’.

Component D is the Outer Form Dimensions:

356 mm (14”) long by 356 mm (14”) wide by 305 mm (12”) deep. This Form can be made in 1, 2 or 4 parts from wood or an iron sheet. Extraction is

done by dismantling the component or

sliding it off.

approximately 12.5 mm by 25.4 mm by 102 mm (%4" x 1” x 4”).

P frame

of wood or bamboo; making upper part of honey chamber with internal dimensions: Length 257 mm (10%”)

260 mm (10%”) honey frame top-bars. Depth 38 mm (1%”) to give room for air vents and grooves for top-bars.

'v’ queen gate made from bamboo or wood, with 3.8 mm (%o") slot for the worker bees to pass through. Overall size is

O roof slab (mud, bamboo mat, cement, card board, newspaper, etc). *

‘w’ bamboo pegs in holes made through orifices ‘m’.

Frame P can be handled as a unit containing honey frames Y, and during work in the


‘e’ 152 mm (6”) nails for alignment of Insert C through holes ‘h’, ‘7 and ‘n’. alignment holes for rods


aw ‘g’ opening for passage of rods /

‘h-i-n’ alignment for holes for nails ‘e’. Make all holes oversize for easy passage of rods.

brood chamber can be rested on the two

strength and moisture resistance: 1-2 kg cement per hive (including the roof slab)

bamboo pegs ‘w’.

Q The mono block clay hive giving room for brood and honeycombs, queen gate ‘v’ and

works well.

Reinforcement is easy with thin slivers of 10 g wires, with bamboo, or by working

2 plugs ‘s’.

Y honey frame (7 pieces) with top-bar

some fibres into the mix. Use water

254 mm (10%”) by 29 mm (1%”) by 6mm

sparingly to ensure hard, solid packing of the mix, and to prevent sagging when the moulds are retrieved immediately following

(%4") made of wood or bamboo; and a

bamboo loop made by hot-bending a prepared bamboo strip 457 mm (18”) long. The depth of the frame is 102 mm (4”).

the packing. Add moisture where it is needed to obtain solid corners and smooth

brood frame (8 pieces) with top-bar as for honey frame, but only 22 mm (%") wide to allow the bees to enter the honey chamber. Each frame will occupy a space

surfaces. The mould can be charged from either end.

Using a curved trowel make a straight and smooth cleaning channel. The trowel can be made by curving a strip of 14-gauge sheet

27 mm (1%o") wide. The frame depth is approximately 150mm (6”).

iron or bamboo.


bamboo strip 457 mm (18”) long to make loops for the frames. The upper ends of the

loops should be

Find or make a mixture of sand and clay that

will dry and harden without cracking. A stabilizer may be mixed in to give extra


‘e’ to ‘n’ give details for the mould

Make the comb frames from bamboo or wood or a combination of these.

26 mm (1”) wide to

2 pieces, for alignment of Inserts B (through

determine the proper spacing of the brood frames. Keep 8 mm (%o") bee space around

Prepare bamboo strips for loops, and mark out 20 mm (%o”) on each side of the


the frame.

intended corners. Thin this area to 1-2 mm


rods 13 mm


by 406 mm (16"),

‘k’ holes at two corners, for mould assembly with 10 mm (%”) by 20 mm (%”) bolts. 'P

alignment holes, 14 mm (%6”) in diameter.

‘m’ these are two holes used to hold the bamboo pegs ‘w’. Make the holes approximately 14 mm (%e”) in diameter and place them 254 mm (10”) apart (centre to centre). ‘nr’




to accept



O, P Q X, and Y are the five major components of the clay block hive

alignment holes for Component C.

(4e”), heat over a flame and bend, then cool

‘r’ to ‘w’: Details of the hive


off in water.

screened air vents.

The brood chamber will hold 8 frames

(26 mm (1%0”) wide top-bar) and the honey chamber 7 frames (29-30 mm (1%c”) wide

‘s’ plug for channel ‘t’ made from bamboo, wood or mud.

top-bar), which approximates the natural nest size for Apis cerana.

cleaning and inspection channel which also serve as handgrips. ‘Pf

‘u’ bee entrance tapering from 38 mm (1%”) to 108 mm (4%”) at the front. A Bees for Development publication


The hive can be sited on a verandah wall, on bamboo poles or on a rammed mud foundation built using Component D.