Why Langstroth hives are every beekeeper’s source of money

Kepha Miller, a beekeeper in his beehives in Kerito Nyamira County, 4/12/2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Two years after setting up a 50-hive apiary, Nyamira County beekeeper Kepha Miller has never looked back. He uses Langstroth hives and admits he has big yields.

He noted that he earns a lot more than friends who keep bees in top-bar hives or in traditional hives.

“With Langstroth hives, I harvest honey every month, which means my profit is very high,” says Miller.

“Thanks to modern hives, I harvest honey every month unlike those who use top bar hives which require a farmer to wait longer to harvest.”

His feelings are confirmed by Yuvenalis Kiage, a farmer from Nyaikuro in Nyamira who uses the top bar hive to produce honey. Yuvenalis says he only harvests honey twice a year.

“I use the top-bar hive because it’s inexpensive to make,” says Kiage.

harvest period

According to Kiage, lack of capital causes most to settle for top-bar hives for their apiary.

“Langstroth hives are expensive to buy or make. They also need a special machine to extract the honey. Most newbies don’t have the money for that,” says Kiage.

Kepha Miller, a beekeeper in his beehives in Kerito Nyamira County, 4/12/2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Langstroth hives cost between Sh3,000 and Sh10,000, depending on size and material, while the honey extraction machine costs around Sh80,000.

With top bar hives, Kiage has to wait about four to six months before harvesting honey, while one using Langstroth harvests monthly.

And why the difference in the harvest periods? Miller explains that when harvesting honey from top-bar hives, a farmer removes all the honeycombs, forcing the bees to start rebuilding the honeycombs; a process that takes longer before insects begin to fill the same combs with honey.

But in Langstroth hives, a farmer only removes the combs that are securely fastened intact with the frames. The frames are fixed in a centrifuge which extracts only the honey leaving the combs intact.

“It becomes quick for the bees to fill the combs with honey, which shortens harvest times,” says Miller.

The farmer says he can harvest up to 10 liters of honey from a single hive per harvest.

This means that Miller harvests over 400 liters of honey from his 46 hives.

He has his own centrifuge which he uses to extract the liquid.

After extracting the honey from the combs, the farmer sifts it through a special filter which ensures that no impurities pass into the collection jar.

He then packs the processed honey in specially designed plastic containers of varying capacity.

After packing the liquid manually, he then seals in half-liter and one-liter containers before they hit the market.

The farmer has secured a solid customer base in the county.

“Kenya does not yet have enough honey. My marketing is limited because I don’t have enough to offer my clients. This is why I always advise aspiring farmers to venture into honey production, as there is a ready market for the product,” he says.

What started as a small business with three hives, has now provided Miller with a secure and smooth source of income.

The beauty of beekeeping, he says, is that a farmer does not incur any expenses such as buying food, medicine or vaccines like other agricultural ventures.

“Bees are free, once they are in a good hive and near a source of good plants and water, they produce honey,” the farmer explains.

He now plans to acquire a bee venom extractor which will help him multiply his profits.

“Bee venom is an important ingredient in the beauty and pharmaceutical industry and is as valuable as precious stones,” he says.