Revolutionary New Beehive
Beegin started as a research project at the University Johannesburg in 2016 with the goal of developing a system for emergent beekeepers to become fully self-sufficient and keep bees in a more sustainable way. Through intensive participatory research and field testing, they developed an appropriate beekeeping technology system that is accessible (low-cost & low-tech) and sustainable (economically & environmentally).
The system is based on lightweight-concrete beehives and the moulding tools for producing the hives. This revolutionary new way of making durable, low-cost, insulating beehives is the answer to so many of the problems (theft, vandalism, fires, badgers, storms, etc.) facing beekeepers, and Beegin believes it will contribute towards a brighter future for bees and beekeepers in Africa.
The durable and low-maintenance beehives reduce beekeepers running costs and give them the option to make their own hives for the same cost as wooden hives. In addition, their profit potential is improved through increased productivity because of better insulation and long-term protection of the swarm of bees housed within the beehive. The moulds are also part of an appropriate technology business model that allows anyone to make and sell the beehives without royalties, creating their own small businesses to supply local beekeepers. Of course, they must first buy a set of moulds – 3 moulds: super, brood-base and lid.
The beehives are based on the standard Langstroth hive measurements, taking the same frame sizes, so that beekeepers can easily swap out their wooden hives. The moulds are simple and easy to use – designed for off-grid manufacturing anywhere in Africa. The moulds come with a detailed instruction manual on how to prepare the moulds, mix the concrete, pour it, remove the parts and cure them – all of which can be done in 48 hours, requiring only 2 hours of labour and costing only ZAR400 (USD25).
Two years after starting to sell the beehives and moulds, Beegin has successfully delivered its products to over 200 clients in 12 countries – all made and sent from South Africa. The moulds are now being used in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Australia, USA and Papua New Guinea. Farmers, beekeepers, NGOs and entrepreneurs that work with bees are finding ways to incorporate the lightweight concrete beehives into their operations. Although the beehives are heavy and not ideal for transportation there has been a huge demand from the migratory pollination industry who struggle with vandalism and theft. Specifically, for the hundreds of new Macadamia farms in Southern African countries. One innovative strategy has been for a pollinator to make and sell the concrete hives to the Macadamia farmers so that when their bees are taken to the farm for the pollination season they can be transferred to the concrete hives and left well protected for the duration of the contract.
In the start of 2020, Beegin partnered with multiple organisations in Zambia, forming the business HoneyWorx, to make and provide the beehives to rural communities, along with training, ongoing support and a structure for buying the honey and hopefully exporting it to foreign markets. While adoption from beekeeping for development organisations has been increasing slowly, Beegin wanted to take the opportunity to fast-track the implementation in at least one area. By doing so, also test comprehensive beekeeping for rural development system that they have developed that is based on the lightweight concrete beehive.
Founder, Inventor & Director of Beegin – Appropriate Beekeeping Technology
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