Handwoven queen excluder compared to plastic
During the more productive harvesting season, beekeepers want to use ‘supers’ to expand their beehives. A super is a second level that is placed on top of a strong hive. The bees then have more space to fill with honey and wax, providing the beekeeper with more opportunities to profit from the livelihood during this season. Supers can be constructed by beekeepers using local materials in much the same way that a regular hive can.
When adding a super, beekeepers should also use a queen excluder. The queen excluder is placed between the main hive and the super to prevent queen bees from crossing and laying eggs in the super, where the beekeeper only wants honey. Keeping the super exclusively for honeycomb allows for an easier, cleaner, and more abundant harvest.
Unfortunately, queen excluders are relatively expensive and cannot be purchased within 900 km of Fort Dauphin. This means that obtaining a queen excluder is often beyond the means of rural beekeepers in the Anosy region. However, Domaine, one of our beekeepers, has come up with a creative solution: weaving them out of local materials like mahampy reeds or ravinala leaves. In September, the beekeepers and the SEED technicians trialed the woven queen excluder. They found that it works just as well as the plastic ones, and no purchase or long-distance travel is required.
This is an especially convenient solution, as weaving is a skill that can already be found in nearly every household in rural Anosy; the vast majority of women in rural communities make and sell woven products to supplement their income. The beekeeping technicians have shown all of the Renitantely beekeepers how they can employ this skill to create the handmade queen excluders.
These woven queen excluders will become an even more essential tool in August when honey harvesting season begins and more hives become strong enough to produce honey that can be harvested.
Queen excluder is placed between the hive
Domaine weaving a ravinala queen excluder
Harvesting honey and wax from two strong hives