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(In Memory) Beekeeping In Malaysia.

The year was 2011.

I had an amazing time when I visited Azman, a bee farmer in Bangi, Kuala Lumpur. We started communicating some time last year this time and he knew I was heading to Malaysia this time of the year. He told me I must come visit his apiary and share with me his enthusiasm.

I was really impressed with his achievement and his apiary is the first that I came across that used Africa beekeeping method, the Kenyan Top Bar hive system. I would not be surprised he is the first in this part of the world that applied top bar beekeeping.

This visit meant a lot to me because on this feasibility study, I wanted and needed to know how api cerana will react to top bar hive method of beekeeping. In Uganda, African honeybees do very well with KTB and I am very familiar with the method. I felt like I was back in Uganda when I approached Azman’s apiary. On top of that, I felt that top bar beekeeping is more economical for the local folks. They do not need to acquire expensive langstroth and to buy European bees to start this enterprise. By the way, the cost of 1 langstroth, comes with bees, cost RM1,800 (US$625). That package provides only the brood box, base board and cover. It does not include the queen-excluder and super. I don’t think many local villagers can afford that kind of money to start the business.

I was greeted by a large plantation of star fruits and I am confident that his bees would thrive with such good nectar and pollen source. I saw the bees buzzing happily around the flowers only stopping for a moment when there were about to enter the flowers.

This was his first attempt in keeping bees and I can say that he was already doing it well although there were some pointers that he needed to look into. He had teamed up with his friend, Haniz and both are equally passionate about keeping bees.

They started only with one colony. By the time I visited them two days ago, they already had colonized 6 hives. The development of their apiary had set a good example for all. For a start, they did not spend money on buying bees or expensive equipment. They collected used wooden crates and palettes. With no prior experience and based on their own judgment, recycled these planks and palettes into smaller version of the top bar hives. Everything was trials and errors. Somehow the bees still found their way to these hives.

When Azman acquired his first hive, he wanted to see the activities within. He created a hive with a glass window on the side. This had became his observation hive. Very often he would simply open up the side panel to see these lovely ladies hard at work.

Api cerana may be more defensive at times if not handled properly but definitely not as defensive as their distant cousins in Africa. Azman and Haniz would have to spend more time with them to learn about their behaviour and to overcome them.

Azman had always wondered how do we handle African honeybees without protective gear. I told him it would be much easier because api cerana or asian bees are not as defensive as the African cousins. He was pleased when he saw the real thing after having seen my blog during our training program where most of the participants were trained to handle the African honeybees bare hands.

Azman left us on 7th February 2018. May his soul rest in peace.

Little Honey Man

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From the desk of Lesster Leow © 2017 for Little Honey Man

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