Behind our house in Touadji II we have a bee hive that hadn’t received attention since we moved to the States six years ago. The bees were still there, but the old Langstroth hive was rotting away.
One evening I decided to transfer the bees into a new horizontal top-bar hive I had made for this purpose some years ago. Janvier helped me and Benjamin stood in the background taking some pictures. We work the bees at night in order to avoid having the bees sting people passing by. Of course that means that ALL the bees are home, making for all-out war! African bees (the supposed ‘killer bee’) are extremely aggressive and this night I couldn’t work quickly since the old hive was all glued shut with propolis and hard to open.
Forty-five minutes and twelve stings later I was able to finally put the hive into the new hive with as much of their brood comb as I could transfer over. The honey we found we harvested. The honey, collected from forest flowers, was dark and rich with exotic flavors. We shared it with the old men of the village and with all those that ate breakfast with us over the next few days.
For years I have been working the African bee, learning how to manage it, with hopes of training our Bakwé friends to produce a high quality forest honey to sell to tourists and hotels. The best hive to use in that part of West Africa seems to be the modified Kenyan Top-bar Hive. Though we are living out of the area right now I still have hopes of some day helping the Bakwé start up a local bee-keeping business. While here in the States I continue to learn about bee-keeping while helping a friend work and manage his bees in Moscow, Idaho.