Please remember, this forum (How to start beekeeping) and thread (Hive design) is for very specific topics and not for general beekeeping discussion. Please keep messages on topic. We're developing an FAQ with these posts.
The idea of this forum is to input information, not so much to ask questions. My intention is not to run you off, just wanting to remind everyone again what the purpose and goal of this forum is. General discussion needs to go to the Bee Forum. This applies to the bantering about the definition of joints that took place earlier.
Sorry about the joint banter, Barry. I'll admit it drifted a bit, but I think there's some very useful and topical information in there.
Anyway, to stay on topic. . .
The nuc issue is why I decided to go with 1 deep in the brood chambers and the rest mediums. I notice a few others out here doing the same. It's kind of a compromise. In my opinion being able to exchange frames with available nucs is far more important than being able to exchange frames between brood and supers. By having one of each, you can put anything into the brood chamber that you need to.
Just my $.02.
From the bee's point of view, a hive should provide enough space for a good queen to lay and storage space for the years food supply.
This varies somewhat with the race of bee and where the hive is located. Usually the square inches of comb space provided by a double deep hive configuration is sufficient, if the comb is properly drawn.
The different hive styles or configurations are for the benefit of the beekeeper and that varies from person to person. What is the most important, cost or ease of handling boxes? Why are bees kept, for income or just for the pleasure of keeping bees?
If inital cost is most important then the fewer boxes/frames needed to give the required square inches of comb space would be best. If cost is not the most important but ease of handling boxes is, then more of the smaller boxes/frames would be the way to go.
Just remember, you must meet or EXCEDE the required square inches of comb space and the comb MUST BE PROPERLY DRAWN.
Beginning hobby beekeepers should start with standard Langstroth boxes of the depth they prefer. All manipulations and techniques that new beekeepers must learn are described in the beekeeping manuals and are based on this style box. If for some reason a beekeeper decides quit standard size Langstroth equipment is easy to sell.
My prefered hive configurations are one deep body and two mediums, or four mediums. Both styles are easy for hobby beekeepers to handle, provide ample space for the bees and are simple to checkerboard for swarm control.
Wished I come upon this site before I started...I went with the basic beginners 2-hive 10-framer set up. Everything was ok until I lifted a chuck full 10 framer deep. Big wake-up on the back strain issue. Jeez, was I surprised! I can't imagine somebody with a lot of 10-frame hives, starting a day of serious hive manipulation on the schedule.
Currently running 2 hive, 10framers. In spring I intend to add 2 eight framers. I realize I'll have an equipment compatibility issue, but I'm just a hobbyist and I love experimenting.
I want to thank all the folks who take to the time to answer all the endless questions us wanna-bee-beeks come up with.
I started with all 8 frame mediums.
Things to consider, all of the nuc's for purchase in the area are shifting to mediums from deeps. All mediums makes for more compatibility. A typical 5 frame medium nuc could be place into a 8 frame or a 10 frame without a problem. The medium format keeps the weight down and limits mishandling full supers. Dropping or banging full supers together tends to make the bee less happy.
As for the 8 frame vs 10 frame, that's a different story. I find that the added height of the overall hive caused by the 8 frame format conflicts with the weight savings. A 40 frame hive in the 10 frame format is less then 4ft tall, and 40 frame hive in the 8 frame format can be 5ft or more. Keep this in mind if your a little shorter, you have bad winds, or need to raise your hive a little taller to keep the small animals away.
Just my opinion, but I own all 8 frame mediums, and will stay that way for now.
The height difference between a 10 frame and 8 frame setup for 40 frames would be exactly 6.25 inches (if using mediums, which you said you were).
Top Bar Hive:
The optimum hive design depends to a degree on where you live and on your objectives in keeping bees.
1. Standard langstroth equipment is pretty much tested over time and proven to work. It has some deficiencies such as weight of a deep full of honey. Still, it is easily sold and easily replaced if you are buying equipment.
2. A square box based on Langstroth dimensions so standard frames fit with a total of 12 frames in a box is a viable alternative. Medium depth is probably a better configuration for this size since weight becomes a significant issue with deeps. The biggest advantage of this size is that the base is larger so colonies don't stack quite so high. The disadvantages include not standard so not as readily sold, and it is a bit of an odd fit for overwintering colonies.
3. Eight frame equipment based on Langstroth dimensions is viable in most of the U.S. and is preferred by some pollination operations. It has advantages when working the bees because the hive is lighter even when full of honey. Disadvantages include overwintering problems in severe winter areas and purchasing them can be difficult because only a few manufacturers support them.
4. Horizontal hives of various designs such as the Kenya topbar hive are viable but mostly limited to hobbyists. For a given size hive, they require the least material to build. This hive design is at a slight disadvantage in severe winter areas because bees have a natural tendency to move up onto combs of honey immediately above the brood nest.
While many hive designs have been tried over the years such as the Stewart vertical octagon hive and various versions of tubular hives both vertical and horizontal, none of them are practical from a beekeepers perspective.
So what would be an optimum design for a hive?
1. A single brood chamber should hold all the brood and bees needed by the colony.
2. It should be easily portable so beekeepers can manipulate it with ease.
3. Honey should be readily removed and easy to extract.
4. pest control should be easy to implement. This could include protection from tropical hornets, varroa, and diseases.
5. It should insulate from the worst of cold external temperatures.
6. It must permit colony manipulation by the beekeeper with minimum disruption of the colony.
7. It must be durable.
There are several other desirable features, but the above gives an idea. From the above, you can readily see that Langstroth dimensions come close but miss out on several items.
If a person just starting out were to ask me, I'd recommend eight-frame Langstroth hives. I have all 10-frame equipment. The weight is an issue, as many people have noted. But the other issue is over-wintering. In the long northern winters the bees move up for stores. Invariably I have full frames of honey on both sides of lower deeps and a cluster up against the inner cover by spring. The cluster has a much harder time moving laterally rather than vertically. It occurs to me that in their natural home -- hollow trees -- bees thrive in much narrower spaces. I think the bees will get better use of winter stores with an eight-frame configuration. The extra height on a narrower footprint will be an issue in high-wind unprotected areas. Even though I will have compatibility issues I intend to add a couple of eight-frame colonies to experiment with and see how wintering goes.
>Disadvantages include overwintering problems in severe winter areas and purchasing them can be difficult because only a few manufacturers support them.
One of the things I LIKE about eight frame hives is they winter BETTER. I don't know of any manufacturer who does not now offer eight frame boxes. Some don't list them, but I don't know any who don't have them.
As far as height, that's one reason I went with top entrances, I could then put the hive on a four by four stand (3 1/2" off the ground) without skunk problems and that saved me another box in height.
>Are skunk problems the main reason you went to top entrance?
They were the reason I went with top entrances. However, now I see a lot of other advantages that were not my original reason. Like grass never blocks the entrance, nor does snow, and I never have to worry about mice.
>Would I be able to set up a top entrance with my Brushy hive top feeder?
Two shingle shims will make a top entrance under the hive top feeder. Yes, I do it all the time. But if you are feeding you may want to also cut a piece of something for an entrance reducer to put across the front.
This is sold in the states? Where? Or do you have to make it from scratch?
I know of no 12 frame equipment being advertised by the big suppliers. You'll have to either make it or have it custom made.
Hello to everyone.
Iím a total novice when it comes to bees, but I have owned and operated a woodshop for over 20 years, so I think I know a little bit about putting wood together. Iím a bit surprised about questions for ďhandlesĒ. Like someone said, simply attach blocks with glue and screws, or if youíre up to it, cut rounded slots into the sides with either a table saw or a router.
Knowing absolutely nothing about bees a few years ago, a friend asked me to make him a truck load of hive bodies and supers. I didnít know what a super was, maybe Superman and something to do with bees flying? We constructed everything very successfully using rabbet joints and glue on the edge surfaces. About the glue joint: I have used all kinds of glues, by the gallon in volume. Tightbond III would be my choice. For those who think Gorilla Glue is good- itís a worthless foamy polystyrene plastic thatís both brittle, degrades with exposure to air, and has minimal tensile strength. I will not use Gorilla in my shop.
Dovetail or finger joints are indeed strong due to their surface areas, but the equipment to make this kind of joint not to mention the time, just isnít worth the hassle. Even if you have dovetail equipment like I do, I would still opt for the rabbet joint for both the hive body and the supers.
Small galvanized nails are an added plus, but actually the nails are used to hold the glue joint in place while it completely sets (not one, not two, but at least 8 hours). Get yourself some pipe-type clamps or borrow a few to hold the joints in place. (By the way, I make cutting boards using Tightbond, using various woods that have different coefficients of expansion, and havenít had a glue joint break yet.)
There is a small problem with nails these days in that IF they are electroplated with zinc, they will eventually rust, even with painting. Check your nails or use galvanized sheetrock screws.
So, if youíre going to make your own hives, etc. as I am, and darn, getting into bees ainít cheap!, use a good water proof glue like Tightbond, use a rabbet joint and if you arenít really comfortable using a table saw, take out additional health insurance.