Hello everyone. Very sweet subject, could not resist! Well, I am completing my first year and feel I have something to share. First, couple of general comments:
- for beginner it is absolutely essential to have all equipment of the same type/size. If it is 8-frame medium Lang - everything should be the same size. It is very important to be able to interchange frames, boxes etc.
- Even if you are planning to be small, plan to have a few extra boxes if it is Lang or Warre. If TB, it should be build keeping in mind the need to grow (longer). You also need to have extra frames etc.
- it is really bad idea to have hives of different design/type/size - decide first and than stuck to one type.
Now, the hot subject "Lang or not Lang"! I have my personal opinion on this:
- there are number of different beehive designs other than Lang. All of them are doing very well in other places. It is only US crazy about Lang. The biggest advantage of the Lang is its universal dimensions - all hardware with small limitations are interchangeable. Because of universal dimensions,it is convenient for commercial beekeeping.
- Now,we have two principal designs: vertical and horizontal.
- Vertical permits expansion of the hive easily by adding additional boxes; vertical beehives normally manipulated by the box - remove, add the box; how many boxes big the hive... There are two major problems with this design: (1) boxes are heavy; (2) rearranging the boxes requires to break hive apart, which some people believe is too much intrusion for the bees. Thus, Warre design with minimal intrusion, but it is still necessary to move heavy boxes.
- Horizontal design have deal with the frame (bar). Frames/bars may be easily added, moved etc without breaking apart the whole hive. Many believed that this is more bee-friendly approach. Once nest is growing, additional frames may be added. Specific horizontal colony management provides ways for swarm management and honey collection. It is debated which design is more "natural" - vertical or horizontal. It is my understanding that in nature both, standing and horizontal logs used by bees. In fact, many traditional old beehives have a horizontal design, horizontal log basically.
- At the level of "frame" one need to choose between foundation-foundationless and frame-frameless. Traditionally, foundation is used in combination with the frame. Foundation is supposed to accelerate the comb making process (debatable). It is well documented that wax accumulates chemicals used to treat beehives. Recycling the wax as it often happens in commercial beekeeping would accumulate chemicals in the reclaimed wax. Thus, more people is interested in foundationless approach when bees create their own comb. Foundationless is less suitable to commercial approach, centrifugal honey extraction in particular. "Standard" frame is a part of Lang's beehive. Other beehives have other standards. Many horizontal beehives used only top bar.
Not disagreeing w/ Sergey just to be disagreeable, but, for well over hundred of years beekeepers have kept bees in two deep hive bodies for brood chambers and some other size box, shallows, mediums, Illionois Deeps, Westerns, comb honey supers, cut comb supers or whatever, and done so quite well and successfully. So, even though standard sizes of boxes is a good idea, in the horizontal dimension, the vertical depth of boxes is a choice one might aught to make depending on what one can lift.
One need not keep a hive of bees in 3 mediums, plus medium honey supers. Or two deeps and the honey supers. You could go to all shallows if that suits you. Personally, I feel that the larger the comb available to a queen the easier it is for her to lay a pattern w/out breaking the space.
I don't know that it really matters, it's just something I feel. Mr. Dadant felt so too at one time, therefore the Jumbo Dadant supers and frames. Which were too large, heavy, and cumbersome to move, so they didn't fit those wishing to move hives. One has to fit the equipment to themselves, the beekeeper and let the bees tell you whether it suits them.
There is no real answer to the Thread Title Question. There is only personal preference and experience. I hope you aren't overloaded to the point you can't make a decision. Maybe you should join a club and visit other beekeepers and see their equipment.
Basically my brief experienced has shown me that the bees will build on any of the available options beeks have. As I will probably always be10 hives or less I do not have to worry about standardization for my extraction process like commercial ventures are driven to for economic reasons. If I was going to start again I would probably go with the 8 frame boxes and med. supers as a standard size, but will stick with what I have for now. Spring I will also start two Top Bar Hives from Honey Bee Habitat since their bars are designed to fit in the standard Lang. hives (good to start comb before putting your package bees in the TBH).
May the Force be with you. The bees will teach you.
So right now despite all the opinions I am working towards my equipment. And man I nearly have it :D Right now I am set on 10 frame langs. The only thing I haven't decided on is whether I will incorporate the two deep + several medium super configuration or run with all mediums.
I am still looking for a more local bee club but found one an hour plus away. Luckily I have been able to meet up with one local bee keeper (whom I am very appreciative of) to at least get some perspective. Hopefully I will be able to visit with you Mark in the spring.
One thing is clear to me (since I am hoping/planning to go treatment free). I will likely be in the game of making my own nucs to help survive losses while I work towards a stable population of treatment free bees. This means to me that having interchangeable frames will be very handy. So that gives me a couple options:
1. Use only deeps for hive body brood chambers and nucs(medium supers)
2. Go all mediums, including the brood chambers and nucs
A second issue with the deeps is that if I go foundationless (my hope/plan), deeps might be a bit more fragile to handle. This may mean I have to choose between foundations and deeps or mediums and foundationless.
Great dialogue with many of the new posters. Although there isn't a right answer to the question I posed. I am reaping the benefits of each of your personal experiences, as are others who read this thread. Thank you.
one side question. I have heard people reference foundationless frames for 10 langs that are "wedge with divided bottom". I am trying to find something like that in the catalog I have from dadant but am failing to do so. Is this more of a custom type frame or am I just missing the boat? i.e. if some one had a picture of one of this style I would love to see it.
One "impact" of using medium frames is that the bees can cross over frames more easily, at least that is my understanding.
I believe WT Kelley is making the frames you're interested in.
I keep 10 frame langs (deeps and shallows) and Warré Hives. This winter I've decided to switch all but one Warré to 8 frame mediums.
For me it's simply about compatibility my local bee friends are both running 8 frame mediums and I really like them. I keep the Warré because it's an enjoyable hive to keep and I like to compare it to my Langs.
BeeCurious, My girls have been drawing out the WTK foundationless deep frames wonderfully. I think I got 20 of them and have 10 installed with 4 fully drawn out in 3 hives. I think two are mostly honey and two are almost exclusive brood. The rest are in progress and doing well.
Following the beekeepers tradition to make plural answers on any single question, I would like to add more to the pot. In principle, I would prefer the top-bar hive (TBH). I think that for amateur beekeeping it is best suitable for many reasons: fun to make own hardware, small initial investment into hardware, more direct "communication" with bees, less invasive, no foundation, no extractor, more "natural" etc. But, bees dictate what they needed. In my case, they completely denied to be in TBH. They wanted to be in the deep Lang box! They ignored medium as well. So, what to do? After quite a bit of research on the Internet, I find a compromise between Lang design and horizontal hive since I love TBH (and bees are not!). It's basically two-Langs long deep box accommodating 20 standard frames. It is huge and not movable. The idea is to let bees expand horizontally assuming that 20 deep frames enough for even VERY large nest. It also may be expanded vertically by adding standard Lang mediums on the top (1 medium or 2 side-by-side or even more). I spent a whole weekend making this box - it looks actually cool and is much better to my conditions - I would prefer something flat rather than tall - we are in earthquakes zone. The advantage of this "horizontal Lang" is that it may be managed in similar to TBHs way until placing supers on top. With supers - it is basically funny Lang with all advantages and disadvantages. Once supers removed it is manageable in TBH fashion again (preparation for winter etc.) Wish me luck - I hope my girls would like it! The problem is that it is very difficult to experiment having only two beehives... Sergey
Do earthquakes make the bees cranky? :eek:
my bees are cranky most of the time... at some degree... I guess,they have the same nightmares as I am - that 6 mediums tall hive will collapse and roll down the hill... I think, at this point, the direction is different, what bees would do and what I shall do... I need to prepare emergency bee-plan.
That is quite a skyscraper! I have been following a bunch of your posts, especially the ones with pictures of your honey frames. 9 more days and I am going to order two of the Honey Bee Habitat TBHs. Mainly because their price is right and the top bars will fit into a standard Lang., which is good for a start of the comb. 5 April is the earliest I can get my package bees from BeeWeaver, orders some time this month according to Laura Weaver. My splits are doing well and should be built up for winter, 3 hives are taking 25 lbs. of sugar with HBH & Amino B a week 1:1. I will try to take some pictures this weekend during my thorough inspection. I also came up with an update to my frame perch to hold frames at a slight angle for picture taking, it will hold deeps or med. frames at a slight angle ~20 degrees. I am hoping it is not too much for foundation less that is not attached on the sides or bottom yet.
News at 11...
Thank you for the explanation it made a lot of sense once i saw the video comparison. What would we do without you tube?
It looks like they have a separate frame type for foundationless on the link beecurious referenced too. Has anyone used that type? They call them a beveled top and solid bottom board (Medium F-style frames 6-1/4" x 17-5/8")
I could see that if you used foundation and your sheets were perfectly cut the slotted top and bottom would be quick and easy install. However the wedge and divided bottom would be easier if your sheets were a little off in size.
BeeCurious thanks for the link on the frame types.
This is actually a pretty good video using what looks like the beveled frame with the solid bottom.
I think this is really cool too because it looks like this guy is using foundationless for deeps with success (he just wires them for support). I wasn't sure if the bees would build comb down with that wire present. It looks like they do according to this guy. If anyone has had luck with this please let me know too. I think I want to aspire to foundationless, and still haven't decided for or against using deeps for the hive body because I wasn't sure if they would have enough support.
Edit: 48 second 2 foundation less frame video, WTK type:
Being a new guy, I hadn't realized that there were multiple frame types. I thought they were pretty much the same bones and you decided to put foundation, or not in them. Based on that you might put in a beveled piece (If no foundation) or just leave as it is and attach the foundation.
While I have seen bee equipment the frames were always already drawn out so I never saw how they were constructed.
Beelosopher - I will be converting all my deeps to mediums in the next 3 years, as I am inheriting a good number of medium frames. It is a simple table saw operation, but I plane the tops flat first. I then re-establish the depth of the frame-hanging rabbets with a router to .700", then chisel the corners carefully. I check the box for squareness, then I set the table saw ripping gate at 6 5/8" and cut all four sides down to medium Illinois size. Then I get out the good, ol' sanding block.
It is a good idea to use your branding iron in a place that does not get modified, if you have not branded yet.
10-frame boxes can also be cut into 8-frame boxes, but it is not so simple. The method I have used for this is to remove any cleat handles, lay out a cutting path on the short ends with two notches on one side and two tabs on the other. The cross-cuts must leave the long part of each half, the notches are drilled and cut after sawing the box in half. The finished, re-sized box must be 8-frame dimensions. That's [the right edge to the tab] + [the left edge to the notch] = 13 3/8" outside dimension (assuming 3/4" lumber - some 8-frames are different sized). I drill and nail vertically from the top and from the bottom to keep the thing connected while the glue dries. I clamp with wax paper-wrapped guide planks. Last, I add new cleat handles, glued and screwed from the inside.
So you can start off with one style and make it into another later, and 3 colonies are not too many to modify. I'm modifying 80 boxes from 10-frame deeps to 10-frame mediums, and will be making frames like crazy most of my free time, and phasing out the deep combs over 2 or 3 years. I hope my shoulder improves so I don't have to go to 8-frame equipment ever (I really love my 5-use, 10-frame mediums), but time and age march on, and we do not get any younger, and 40 lbs is easier to lift than 50 lbs....
I started out with deeps because I wanted a quick start in the business and wanted to get as much bee resources as I could for less work. Now it is time to do the rest of the work on making 3 mediums where I used to use 2 deeps. My shoulders, back, and knees are telling me I should'a dunnit last year! Oh, and BTW, the leftover wood rectangles can be used to make inner cover rims, Cloake boards, screened bottom boards, escape boards, even more supers (if you are meticulous), double screen boards, pollen traps, etc., etc., etc....why waste wood?