Posting to describe my grandfather's old world style of hives that some have asked me about and ask some questions about beekeeping.
Michael, their pretty much nothing like the Langstroth of Dandant hives, in fact their unmovable frames (well you can move them without killing bees if your careful (read somewhere in nonmovable frame hives you have to kill the bees to get them out)), basically their is no bee space between the frames so they get propopalised (sp) together and you've got to give it a good pull to get them out.) Like I said their very different, at our last class a guy from the local bee keeping club showed up and was thrilled to meet the grandson of the guy with the heavy beehives. (his friends had apparantly bought a full hive of my grandfather years ago and he was so intrigued he took pictures of it) They have an inner cover and a telescoping outer cover as well as two small entrances (top and bottom, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch high and 4-5 inches wide) Anyway the dimensions are 32in long, 21in tall, and 13in wide. They're made of wood that is 1-1.5 inches thick (depending on part of hive). The frames are oriented vertically in them instead of horizontally and there is only 1 level (story if you will). I'll post some pictures online once I get my digital camera back and link to them).
As far as why did my grandfather prefer them when he had some langsroth style hives (he only used them when he had nothing else, always made his style ones, and those were always the first to be sold)? One I think it was just habbit he was 80 and had been raising bees since he was 12. Also he claims that they winter a lot better in those hives, which I really didn't believe up until this year. I've heard stories from other beekeepers in the area of a 50% loss rate or worse and like I said I only lost 1 of 20.... so who knows, they are a complete pain to work though so I figure I'll do half and half or something.
Couple of questions:
Any recomendations on switching them over quickly, I was just going to take the capped brood, tie it into the new frames (the frames of course aren't compatable anything else would be to easy) and just shake the rest of the bees into the new hive. I figure I'll do it on a nice warm day, either putting the new hive right infront of the old or right beside then just move it into place when I'm done.
Also can bees use the honey that's hardened and sugared in the frames, or is it worthless to them.
And the hive that didn't make it can I feed their winter stores to the other bees (when I opened it up their were a bunch of dead bees on the bottom in a pile in the center and a bunch hanging off some of the center frames, I'm assuming they just couldn't move left or right or fell down or something and starved to death. I didn't see any signs of disease but I'm not to great at picking it out yet either. The only thing I did notice was that the combs seem to have a whitish waxish substance on the outside of them, I was thinking this may be due to them freezing or something).
"...not all those who wander are lost..."