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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Edgefield County, South Carolina
    Posts
    651

    Question

    My 13 year old want's an observation hive. I have searched the forum and read different post trying to decide. I am not handy with woodwork or have the tools and would be purchashing one. I like the one in brushy but a little pricey(sp.).I have been looking at the one in Kelly. I would like two medium frames and would like to use the hive for show and tells.
    Can you make a larger base by attaching a board to the bottom of the one from kelly to make it more stable(would be using in schools). Do I need to use plexiglass or glass? I have a friend that has one mounted in a fruit stand and it seems difficult to move when you have to change the frame (he tries to stop the entrance of the hive with tissue after he removes the entrance tube). Bees usually end up inside the fruit stand. I would not want this to happen in my son's room (and of course my wife is against the whole idea totally!!!). Any suggestions or ideas would be welcomed Not on the wife however !!!)

    Thanks
    sc-bee

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,729

    Post

    >My 13 year old want's an observation hive. I have searched the forum and read different post trying to decide. I am not handy with woodwork or have the tools and would be purchashing one. I like the one in brushy but a little pricey(sp.)

    It's about as nice as you'll get. If they draw their own comb in it, the 1 1/2" spacing will work fine. Otherwise, if you want to pull frames froma hive and put in it I'd add a screen molding behind the hinges and on the door stop to widen it 1/4".

    >I have been looking at the one in Kelly. I would like two medium frames and would like to use the hive for show and tells.

    The two medium frame would make a nice show and tell hive, but doesn't make a very good stand alone hive. I find three deeps or four mediums work well.

    >Can you make a larger base by attaching a board to the bottom of the one from kelly to make it more stable(would be using in schools).

    Sure. A two by twelve or whatever you like would give it some weight too. Or a 3/4" piece of plywood whatever size you like.

    > Do I need to use plexiglass or glass?

    That depends. To take to a school I'd prefer either plexiglass or tempered glass. Regular glass is just too risky. In my living room I'd say the same because my grandkids run into it now and then.

    > I have a friend that has one mounted in a fruit stand and it seems difficult to move when you have to change the frame (he tries to stop the entrance of the hive with tissue after he removes the entrance tube). Bees usually end up inside the fruit stand. I would not want this to happen in my son's room (and of course my wife is against the whole idea totally!!!).

    I pull the tube loose from the hive and put a piece of cloth on the tube and the exit on the hive with a hair tie. Then I go outside and put a piece of cloth over the outside entrance with a hair tie. That way the traffic jam isn't in the tube. Then I take it outside and work it and then brush all the bees off and bring it in and remove the cloth and hair ties and rehook it up. I've never had a bee get loose, but I always figure one will sooner or later. I do try to not leave it open any longer than I have to while hooking and unhooking.

    > Any suggestions or ideas would be welcomed Not on the wife however !!!)

    Working an observation hive. I have tried to come up with fancy valves etc. to block the bees when taking the hive outside to work it. I have ended up with three pieces of thick cloth and three rubber band hair ties. The nice thick cloth coated hair ties are easy to handle and work well. I disconnect the hose and pin the two pieces of cloth between the outlet and the tube. Then I get someone to hold one with the cloth covering the end while I put a rubber band on the exit on the hive to hold on the cloth. Then I rubber band the tube. Then I go outside and put a piece of cloth on there and rubber band that. The outside one is so that when I go to reconnect everything I don’t have a traffic jam in the tube trying to get into the house. Carry the hive outside and open it and work it. Use smoke to get the bees off the edges as much as you can when you close up. Brush any bees off the outside. I do this once, move the hive a ways, and do it again. Then I take the hive back in the house and put the two tubes against each other and remove the cloth as quickly as I can and reconnect things. If I do this with a minimum amount of time of the tube being open, I almost never have a bee get into the house. If they do they will just try to go out the window and you can catch them with a glass and a piece of paper. Put the glass over the bee and slide the piece of paper under the glass. You now have a bee in the glass. Take it outside and let it go.

    I like one I can keep all year round, one frame thick, so I can always find the queen, eggs and brood,, so let’s assume that is the goal.

    Get the same size frames as your brood in your other hives. Otherwise what will you do when it gets overcrowded? The queen is going to lay in all the frames and I want to be able to put those in my other hives. Most commercial observation hives are thinking they want a cross section of a standard hive and that means deeps for the bottom and shallows for the top. I do not recommend this because what are you going to do with a shallow frame of brood when the hive gets too strong? If you run all mediums in your hives, you want an observation hive that is four mediums. If you run all deeps for brood in your hives, you want an observation hive that is three deeps. This is an ideal size to be carrying in and out of the house to manipulate it and is still big enough to over winter. I usually end up reworking the hive by cutting notches in the frame rests (usually a 1 by 2) with the correct spacing for my frames. I fill the excess either with a homemade frame feeder on top or a top bar or bars on the bottom (sort of like a slatted rack concept). Leave a beespace between the bottom of the last frame and the top bar. Worst case is the bees will build on the top bar and you’ll just leave it there. Brushy Mt. understands the concept and all of their observation hives are already set up this way.

    Feeder. You need a feeder that can be refilled without facing any bees. It’s best to have a way to feed both honey and pollen. I have made frame feeders to fill the excess space from changing the frame sizes. One of mine was made for two deeps and two shallows. Originally I reworked it to three deeps and then reworked that to four mediums. It has a trough feeder I made like a dugout from a two by and I drilled larger holes on the top to fill it and put #7 hardware cloth on the holes so I can dump in pollen. Again, Brushy Mt. seems to understand this. Brushy Mt has a place on the end of theirs for a quart jar with holes like a boardman except on the opposite end of from the entrance. This is screened with #8 hardware cloth so you don’t have to face any bees to refill it.

    Beespace between the glass. From my experience an observation hive should be between 1 ¾” and 1 7/8” between the glass. A natural comb is about 1” with a 3/8” bees space on one side which makes the 1 3/8” on center. (small cell is more like 15/16” thick with 5/16” beespace). And that would be 1 ¾ (or 1 5/8”) but since it is an observation hive and they are already a bit crowded 1 7/8 is still to skinny to incite them to build comb on the glass and a bit more roomy. More is asking them to build burr on the glass. Less is too crowded. The first hive I bought from Draper and was 2 ½” and they burr the glass all the time. The next was from Brushy Mt. and it’s 1 ½” and using wax coated PermaComb they all either died or absconded. You could see they were pinned against the glass. I reworked the Brushy Mt hive by using Screen molding that is about ¼” thick. I took the door off and put a strip where the hinges attach and another on the other side (just for looks). I put two 2” long pieces inside where the screws lock the door and used longer screws to put the door back on the hinges (through the strip on the hinge side) and through the “latch” side through the 2” strips to close the door. This adds about ¼” between the glass. Also to maintain the beespace between the glass I have put screws on both sides of the frames adjusted to hold them centered. Otherwise when I carry the hive back in the house, the frames move and the beespace is messed up.

    Glass or Plexiglas. I like them both. If you are buying one, safety glass is pretty durable. That’s what my draper hive is and the grandsons have hit it a few times with toys and it’s still in one piece. Plexiglas is less breakable and lighter weight and easier to work with when building your own. Glass is easier to clean. To clean the glass just use a razor blade scraper and scrape it clean. Follow-up with some window cleaner. To clean the Plexiglas you need WD40 or maybe FGMO (Food Grade Mineral Oil). You can get the FGMO at the drugstore as Mineral Oil Laxative. Both solvents have to soak to soften the wax and propolis.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Newberg, OR USA
    Posts
    146

    Post

    Here is a link for more observation hives. Although $$$ very good quality with a door you can slide shut and lift the hive off the top.

    I have one and love it.

    http://www.draperbee.com/default.htm

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,729

    Post

    Which one?

    I have this one:

    http://www.draperbee.com/images/oak%...dard%20web.jpg

    I reworked it to four mediums and a homade frame feeder and added a pane of glass in the back to fix the beespace down smaller. I do like it alot. But the door doesn't slide and you can't lift the hive off the top.


    http://www.draperbee.com/images/2frame2.gif

    Is it this one maybe?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

    Post

    Great info MB; thanks! Has anyone read the Dewey/Caron Observation Hive book, and is it worth getting as a reference? I'm more interested in a permanent OB hive than a fill-and-empty type...
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,729

    Post

    >Has anyone read the Dewey/Caron Observation Hive book

    I have.

    > and is it worth getting as a reference?

    It was interesting reading. It also depends on if you intend to build one or maintain one. There's SOME information on the idea of building one, but no real plans. There some information on how to maintain one.

    >I'm more interested in a permanent OB hive than a fill-and-empty type...

    The book talks about both.

    If you want to build one, the plans on here aren't bad except I wouldn't do the front pane of glass in a groove. I'd just put it on with those plastic "shoes" that hold mirrors on. Because the bees will propolize it and it's very hard to get the glass out of a groove.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,416

    Post

    Here's mine, complete with the how to guide...
    http://www.myoldtools.com/OBhive/OBhive.html

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,624

    Post

    That's a halibut hive Ross. How's it doing now? I've been working on plans for one, but hadn't though of going as tall as 7 medium frames. Working out OK?
    Dulcius ex asperis

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,416

    Post

    It works very well. They raised their own queen in August. Since then she took a break in brood rearing in November because I quit feeding. I recently started feeding light syrup again and she cranked right back up. They seem quite happy. I seem to have hit the right combination of ventilation. I'll be building some more soon, probably stopping at 5 frames. I am letting them draw natural cell size, so I need to tighten the glass spacing down to 1 1/2" - 1 5/8". I get a little burr on the glass at 1 3/4". I am also considering one with only a single top bar to see if I can get a large natural comb.

    [size="1"][ December 20, 2005, 03:31 PM: Message edited by: Ross ][/size]

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