Feedback: Keep 20 hives in each apiary for more honey, happy bees

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By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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TEACH ME HOW TO KEEP BEES HAPPY

I have a 22-acre farm in Mtwapa and I would like to keep bees. Is there a maximum limit on the number of beehives I should keep for good harvest?

Secondly, how often and how much honey should I expect from each hive? 

I am keeping bees and would wish to know where I can get the new type of hive that is auto-harvesting.

I understand I only need to open a tap to harvest honey.
Daniel

Keep a limit, of not more than 20-25 hives per apiary depending on availability of bee plants and water sources.

Bees forage in a radius of about 3 to 5km from the apiary, so if you want to keep more than 25 hives, find another site at least 3km away from the existing one.

Depending on the pattern of rain, beekeepers in Kenya can harvest up to three times a year with an average of about 10kg of honey per hive per harvest.

Bees make honey when nectar is available, once the honey is collected, the bees ‘ripen’ and seal it within honey comb cells (capping).

This period coincides with the time when nectar flowers wither and fall. When bees are making honey, inspect hives once every week by opening them up to ensure bees have enough space to store honey.

With the Kenya Top Bar Hive, remove honey to make space; with the Langstroth Hive, add an extra space.

During harvesting, ensure that combs with honey only are harvested whilst leaving some honey behind for the bees to survive on.

Ronald K. Kimitei, Department of Animal Science, Egerton University.

I FEAR MY CHICKENS MAY GET BIRD FLU

I keep chickens in Busia County, which borders Uganda, and fear that bird flu may reach my farm because we are not far from Kampala, where it was detected. What should I do?

Bird flu is a disease of economic importance and public concern because of the massive loss it causes on poultry farms, with mortality rates reaching 100 per cent in 48 hours.

Luckily, the disease is not airborne. The main channel of transmission is through movement of poultry, poultry products, people handling the birds and vehicles used for transportation to the farms.

Signs to look out for to be able to detect the disease include birds standing with their heads tucked in or lowered and almost touching the ground, and drooping wing feathers.

For laying birds, they may at first lay soft-shelled egg and soon stop laying.

The combs and wattles turn dark red to blue, swell with bleeding at the tips, there is laboured and fast breathing and profuse watery diarrhoea is frequently present, and the birds are excessively thirsty

A farmer feeds his chicken.

A farmer feeds his chicken. Control contact between domestic and wild birds by keeping the former in a protected environment to control Bird Flu. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Extreme cases of bird flu are usually difficult to differentiate from other diseases that cause sudden high mortality such as Newcastle disease or infectious bronchitis that affects egg production or those that cause swelling of the comb and wattles such as fowl cholera and bacterial infection of the comb and wattles.

Bird flu has no treatment leaving vaccination as the only effective biosecurity measure in prevention and control of the disease.

Measures to take to ensure there is no contact between healthy birds and the bird flu virus include avoid purchase of birds from an affected location, even if they do not appear sick.

Remember some forms of the bird flu virus do not show any signs of the disease but the infected birds have the ability to spread the virus to healthy birds.

Control movement of people onto your poultry farm. Those handling the birds should practice proper personal hygiene since the virus may be carried on their clothes, shoes or boots or equipment

Keep different types of birds in separate houses and fence their scavenging environment, if possible.

For farmers keeping ducks, the birds usually presents a problem since they hardly express any signs of the disease but end up excreting the virus presenting an opportunity to spread the disease to other poultry species

Control contact between domestic and wild birds by keeping the former in a protected environment.

Wild birds migrate from one area to another and may contaminate the farm through close contact with domestic birds or through infected manure dropped.

If you suspect any of the bird flu signs, it is important to immediately notify local veterinary authorities in your area.

Sophie Miyumo, Smallholder Indigenous Chicken Improvement Programme ([email protected]),
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

I have two acres of mature green maize in Kericho. Are you in a position to give me contacts of potential buyers?
Abdi Ruto

Please send your details to the buyers and sellers column in this magazine as advised.

Muriuki Ruth Wangari, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

BEST COMMERCIAL SHEEP TO KEEP

I would like to venture into commercial sheep farming for mutton. I have three acres in Metkei, Keiyo South, where the temperatures range from a minimum of 14°C to a maximum of 24°C. Rainfall ranges annually from 400 to 1,400mm.

Advise on the best breeds, where I can get them and general management.

The weather conditions you have described indicate that your area is a high potential, at around agro-ecological Zone Two.

Dorper Sheep in a farm in Uasin Gishu.

Dorper Sheep in a farm in Uasin Gishu. Dorper sheep are hardy and produce quality meat, they are renowned for faster growth rates and higher fertility compared to indigenous breeds like the Red Maasai. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Consider sourcing Dorper sheep as they are hardy and produce quality meat. They are renowned for faster growth rates and higher fertility compared to indigenous breeds like the Red Maasai.

Dorper sheep are reared and sold by several private farms across the country.

You can access these farms through the secretary, Dorper Sheep Breeders Society of Kenya, P.O. Box 96, Kiserian, cell phone: 0718614765, email: [email protected] S

elected Dorper sheep are also sold once or twice annually in public auctions at the sheep and goat station in Naivasha.

Ronald K. Kimitei,
Department of Animal Science, Egerton University.

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GOOD SHORT-TERM CROPS TO GROW

I have 10 acres in Busia and would wish you to recommend crops that I can start growing. It would be good if they mature faster.

The best short season crops are legumes such as ground nuts, sesame, beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, green grams and vegetables such as butternut, okra, onions, sukuma wiki and spinach. Spices such as ginger and garlic also do well.

Muriuki Ruth Wangari,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

I am a chicken farmer who is just starting in Donholm, Nairobi. I have 300 layers chicks and have opted to make my own feeds at home.

Please advise on the ingredients required for chicks, growers and layers and their proportions per bag (70kg).

Also please advise on the optimum feed per bird per day.

Formulating own feeds is both a science and an art, and if some standards are not followed, this may result to poor quality feeds leading to slow growth rate, low egg production, diseases or sometimes death.

It starts from sourcing quality raw materials from trusted suppliers. You need energy sources like whole maize, maize germ, rice germ; protein sources like cotton seed cake and soya beans or sunflower among other ingredients.

Animal protein sources like fish meal (omena) may be cumbersome to guarantee a steady supply and sometimes it is associated with fish taint in eggs.

Two men thresh chaff for making chicken feed.

Two men thresh chaff for making chicken feed. Formulating own feeds is both a science and an art, and if some standards are not followed, this may result to poor quality feeds leading to slow growth rate, low egg production, diseases or sometimes death. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

You will also need additives like lime for calcium, coccidiostat (mainly chick mash), premixes and toxin binders. As a guideline, chick mash require energy levels of around 2,900kcal ME/kg and crude protein (CP) content of about 20 per cent.

Allow between 35-60g of feed per chick per day. Gradually introduce growers mash, allowing 60-90g of feed per pullet per day as you increase with age.

Growers mash will require about crude protein content of 18 per cent for faster growth in preparation for egg production.

Once at laying stage, hens require a well-balanced formulated layers ration with CP of 16 per cent.

Depending on the size of the bird and laying capacity, a layer will consume about 110-140g of layers mash per day.

Accompany feeding with clean drinking water. For further guidelines regarding the proportions of mixing these feed ingredients, refer to Seeds of Gold, August 15, 2015.

Remember to take your products for proximate analysis to be sure of quality for maximum egg production.

Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Science, Egerton University.

I would really appreciate if you can take me through the entire process of becoming a farmers’ choice pork supplier.
George Muchai

To be a contracted supplier of pigs for slaughter to Farmers’ Choice, one is required to maintain high standards of hygiene in the piggery unit.

Normally, they constantly monitor off-site pig units to warrant good quality pork. For further details, contact them on 0722331706/ 0722205698; or email [email protected]

Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Science, Egerton University.


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