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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Cincinnati, OH, USA
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    6

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    I have begun building a 9 frame observation hive using modified plans from this website. I wondered if anyone could provide some insight as to whether I should use glass for the "windows" or if I can use plexiglass instead. Will the bees treat plexiglass differently or will if get scuffed up quickly?
    Thanks! Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    The glass is easy to clean by scraping with a razor blade scraper. The plexiglass is difficult to clean at best but much easier to work with and harder to break. The bees won't scuff it, but you might cleaning it.

    I figure the plexiglass is temporary and the glass is permenant. If you use the groove method shown in the plans, I would be afraid of not being able to slide the glass out and having it break from the stress against the propolis. I have seen glass break under much less pressure at times, than I think it would take to get it free. My plan is to use glass and use those little plastic brackets they make for mounting mirrors to hold the glass on. The other option is to cut an indentation in a one by frame to hold the glass on. If you could remove all of the items (brakets or one by frame) holding the glass and heat with a hair dryer I think you could get all the propolis loose without breaking it.

    The observation hive that I bought has glass, but the spacing is wrong. They mounted the glass in the door with a wood frame to hold it in the door which puts the glass too far from the comb face. The bees make burr all over the glass.

    As for privacy sheilds I just put a doubled up peice of black cloth on mine for a curtain, but I think the hive would make a nice quilt rack to show off a pretty (but not antique) quilt in your living room.

    I bought an observation hive from Brushy Mt. I don't care for the plexiglass, but the dimensions are exactly correct and you can't easily replace the plexiglass with glass because it's mounted by screws THROUGH the plexiglass.

    I was also thinking of a 9 frame or 12 frame hive. Like three frames wide and three or four frames high, so I can put it outside on my porch in the shade and not have it get too chilled or stressed.

    I like starter strips and if you use starter strips in a hive like this you can see the cluster and see the way they build comb from scratch. Of course when they get it built up the queen will want to lay the brood on the inside where it's hard to see, and you can't find her much, but I have an inside hive for showing people what brood and queens look like.

    I was going to do plain strips and see if they build a "center" comb and how the combs are oriented.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Benson North Carolina
    Posts
    27

    Post

    Hi,
    I have a "SAFE HIVE" that I also purchased from Brushy Mt.{thanks Steve} and I had the option of useing glass or plexiglass. I used glass due to some of the problems that I had heard of with the plexiglass. Some of the people that I talked to said that not only was it much harder to clean, it would turn a cloudy color and make it much harder to view your bees. I have used my ob. hive for the last two seasons with the glass and I'm happy with it. Just remember that it will break much easier, but with care I was able to remove the glass last fall for clean up.
    Good Luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Does Brushy Mt still sell the "safe" hive? I like their observation hives. The only thing I didn't like was the plexiglass.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Benson North Carolina
    Posts
    27

    Post

    Hi Michael,
    They still have them listed at their web site and in their catalog. I got very lucky, They have a tent out in the yard with disc. items and scrached items. I found this one there and only paid 70.00 for it. I live about 3 hrs away and get up about once a month. I brought it home sanded it down refinished it and put my glass in and wow looks great.
    Here is their web site http://www.beeequipment.com/
    I would call or e-mail and ask them what they have in the tent. Their number is 1-800-beeswax.
    They are great to deal with and Steve is very smart when it comes to problems.
    And no I don't get a commision. Just that all of their workers are super super nice and will try their best to answer any question that is thrown their way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    469

    Post

    I built an observation hive last year from modified beesource plans and have a few "observations".

    I used plexiglass for safety(doesn't break)and weight reduction.Tried to clean w/a razor and had limited success.I have since heard that warm mineral will disolve wax and propolis and will try that this year.Visability is still good after 11 mos.

    STRONGLY urge you not to use the groove method to secure glazing.If your spacing is correct,you will roll you bees when you move your glazing and that really ticks them off.Also propolis sticks the glazing in the grooves and you end up disassembling the hive to clean or remove brood.
    The bee space issue is a tough one.To much space and you get burr comb.Not enough space and you'll get no brood(cells not deep enough)Make sure your frame rests hold you frames straight and centered.I started mine with a frame of brood from another hive and watched in horror as the bees tore open the brood cells and dropped them outside.(my 1st observation - ouch)The comb was crooked and there wasn't a bee space above the brood.Fortunatly they rebuilt the comb straight and the queen quickly filled the cells with eggs.
    Did you really mean NINE frames??Mine is two deeps and I worry about the kids knocking it over so I built a wide base.It is portable and I brought it to my nieces birthday party on a whim and it was a hit with the kids and adults.The kids took turns letting individual bees out,some on to their fingers.
    Mark your queen.It makes it easier for others to find her and gives you an excuse to explain color coding,queen age,queen importance,etc.
    I encourage everyone to have an ob hive.Mine is sitting right next to my computer and although its snowing out side the window(is this snow storm no.19 or 29)I know spring is real close because the brood is hatching and the population is increasing.

    Jack

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    I too made the observation hive from the plans here on Beesource. I used black walnut grown on our farm here in Kansas. A beautiful piece of furniture!

    I had thought that maybe I should have made it with all mediums instead of two deeps and one medium so I could use Permacomb, but now I think that I will enjoy watching the building of comb, maybe I'll throw in some wax moths (MB should like that)

    I used glass and am planning to use Rain-X to coat the inside glass and vasaline in and near the grooves the glass rests in. (Too late to change the groove method)

    Any comments about the use of Rain-X or Vasaline?
    Bill

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Betobee said:
    I brought it home sanded it down refinished it and put my glass in and wow looks great.

    Reply:
    So it didn't have any glass or Plexiglas? How did you fasten the glass to the door and the hive? The Brushy Mt. Hive that I have has the Plexiglas attached by screws through the Plexiglas.


    Jack said:
    I used Plexiglas for safety (doesn't break) and weight reduction.

    Reply:
    It is lighter. I've also considered ordering safety glass for the safety aspects.

    Jack said:
    I have since heard that warm mineral will disolve wax and propolis and will try that this year.

    Reply:
    I'll have to try that.

    Jack said:
    I STRONGLY urge you not to use the groove method to secure glazing.If your spacing is correct,you will roll you bees when you move your glazing and that really ticks them off.Also propolis sticks the glazing in the grooves and you end up disassembling the hive to clean or remove brood.

    Reply:
    That's about what I figured.

    Jack said:
    The bee space issue is a tough one.To much space and you get burr comb.Not enough space and you'll get no brood(cells not deep enough)Make sure your frame rests hold you frames straight and centered.I started mine with a frame of brood from another hive and watched in horror as the bees tore open the brood cells and dropped them outside.(my 1st observation - ouch)The comb was crooked and there wasn't a bee space above the brood.

    Reply:
    When you say "above" do you mean between the comb and the glass? It is a dilemma having crooked comb. It's also a learning experience that shows what happens in a hive when you rearrange the entire brood nest and the combs are crooked and not enough space. The bees can't emerge from the brood and they die.

    Jack said:
    Did you really mean NINE frames??Mine is two deeps and I worry about the kids knocking it over so I built a wide base.

    Reply:
    I was thinking of three to four medium frames high and three frames wide. The one I have in the house is one frame wide, which is preferable for observing, but I don't think I can talk the wife into another one in the living room, so if it's outside, I think they need more ability to control the temperature. The one in the living room I think is from Draper Super Bee in Auburn. It's very nice. I rearranged it the first time for three deeps and a homemade feeder. Now it's four mediums and a homemade frame feeder.

    Jack said:
    It is portable and I brought it to my nieces birthday party on a whim and it was a hit with the kids and adults.The kids took turns letting individual bees out,some on to their fingers.

    Reply:
    I assume this was outside? You just let them out the hose? My grandson just learned to say bee and now all insects are bees, and of course, since he watches the ones in the observation hive he thinks they are cool.

    Jack said:
    Mark your queen.It makes it easier for others to find her and gives you an excuse to explain color coding,queen age,queen importance,etc.

    Reply:
    On the other hand, it's good practice to learn to find her when she's not marked. It is hard to get other people to see her though.

    Jack said:
    I encourage everyone to have an ob hive.Mine is sitting right next to my computer and although its snowing out side the window(is this snow storm no.19 or 29)I know spring is real close because the brood is hatching and the population is increasing.

    Reply:
    I don't know why I waited so long to get an observation hive. I've learned a lot from watching them and it gives you a "barometer" of what's going on with your bees outside too. You can tell when there's pollen or nectar coming in etc. I would recommend it to everyone.


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited April 09, 2003).]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    469

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    I tried petroleum jelly and made a royal mess trying to reassemble the hive.Grease on the Plexiglass and bees stuck to the grease.I finally scraped it off and deal with the propilis.The plexiglass is flexable enough so I can slide a hive tool behind it to break the seal.I don't know if glass would be flexable enough for this.
    Funny you should mention wax moth.The life cycle of the wax moth is another "observation" I've been following all winter.The bees control them on the comb but there are many crevices where they can escape the bees but are still visable to me.I'll get 'em this summer tho.
    To M.Bush, Sorry,I should have said between the glazing and the brood.AS a result of that observation I am now very careful when ever I go into the brood chambers.Unless I have a valid reason,I maintain the same order and orietation.I always use 10 frames and the last thing I do before moving on is to push the frames together so the lugs are touching.That way the spacing between the frames stays constant.
    Jack

    [This message has been edited by Jack Grimshaw (edited April 09, 2003).]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I also gotten to observe wax moths in the observation hive. I still am not quite to the point of saying wax moths don't matter if the hive is strong. I've seen them in strong hives. Maybe they don't get too far out of hand, but they hide really well. to paraphrase Gollem "I hates 'em. Nasty little mothies."


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Here are my measurments of beespace on observation hives I've had or seen.

    My very nice Draper with glass and a pivoting lazy suzan base is 2 1/2" between the glasses. This is 3/4” of beespace on each side which is 3/8" too much. The bees build a LOT of burr comb. On the one hand, it's interesting to see them build it, on the other it blocks my view. But it also gives the comb more protection from temperature.

    The plans from beetools site 2". This is 1/2” of beespace on each side which is 1/8" too much. http://members.aol.com/beetools/obhive.htm
    http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/obs1.htm. 1 7/8". THis is 7/16” bee space on each side (1 3/8" for each frame plus 1/2" for the outside space) This is 1/16" too much.

    Plans on this site http://www.beesource.com/plans/obsrhive.htm 1 5/8". This is 5/16” of bee space on each side which is the middle of beespace. This is a correct dimension from burr comb perspective.

    1 1/2" Brushy Mt. observation hives. This is 1/4" bee space on each side which is miminmum beespace. THis is also a correct dimension, but a bit unforgiving.

    1 3/4” Is by my calculations a 3/8” beespace on each side. This is the maximum beespace and is more forgiving from not being to small, but if the frame isn't centered could end up too big. This is 1 3/8” for each frame plus 3/8” for outside space.


    Anyone else have observations on the space between the glass?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Benson North Carolina
    Posts
    27

    Post

    Hi Michael,
    My ob hive had groves already cut in for the glass or the plexi.
    I would steer clear of the rain X I left a small puddle on the bottom of my truck window and some bees got in it and never made it out before dieing. It was during our dought last year. I figured that they were looking for water. I haven't tried it on my ob hive.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >My ob hive had groves already cut in for the glass or the plexi.

    So it's a grove not just a inset? Mine is must inset and is held into the inset with screws through the plexiglass

    >rainX
    I haven't tried RainX, but I would think the bees drinking it and having a thin coating on the glass would be drastically different senarios. I do wonder if it would help. I have some somewhere that I've never used on anything buried in all that stuff in my garage. As long as I have glass though, I don't think I'll bother.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Benson North Carolina
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    27

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    Mine is groved on bottom and sides and the glass slides down then the top plate locks it all down.
    If I can find a picture I'll send it off.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Kyle,Texas
    Posts
    39

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    I built an Observation hive last spring and it is 9 frames, 3 tall and3 wide with the top 3 being mediums.
    It was made with a 2 by 6 pine board for frame spacing I hade some extra 9 frame spacers that I cut with tin snips and mounted them in grooves at thesides for the frame ears(they are kept level and the spacing seems to work good by cutting the spacers in the middle of the frame recesses it gave me the right spacing to the plexiglass also).
    It also has a mini miller feeder on one side and 2 clear entrance tubes that are 1 inch in diameter.
    Havent had a problem with brace comb in a year,watched a queen hatch(had the living room full of kids from the neighborhood watching!!).
    With the miller feeder you can hear the bees buzz too!
    Also used the mirror hardware to hold the plexiglass on the sides, 6 on each side.
    Total price was less than 20 bucks.
    Good luck I'll try to get picts.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
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    406

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    I would love to have an observation hive, can someone tell me more, or recommend a good book. How long can you keep bees in an Observation hive? Do you let them out to fly occasionally? I understand pulling a frame from a hive for a day or two for a demo, but would hate to constantly mess with hive dynamics. Maybe keep a small hive, and only pull from that? Can you keep them inside all winter, and just feed them and watch them? What about cleansing flights?
    Michelle

  17. #17
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    May 2000
    Location
    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA
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  18. #18
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I would love to have an observation hive, can someone tell me more, or recommend a good book.

    I don't have a book, so it's difficult to recommend one, but there is one available titled "Observation Hives, How to set up, maintain , and use a window to the world of honeybees book" by Dr Tom Wbster and Dr. Dewey Caron. It's available from Brushy Mt as wall as others.

    >How long can you keep bees in an Observation hive? Do you let them out to fly occasionally?

    I do have a Tew Observation "hive" that let's you pull a frame and take it somwhere to show people bees. But a real Observation Hive is a real hive with an entrance to the outside. Usually they are indoors, but sometimes they are outdoors. You can keep them indefinately if it's inside and big enough to get through the winter.

    >I understand pulling a frame from a hive for a day or two for a demo, but would hate to constantly mess with hive dynamics. Maybe keep a small hive, and only pull from that?

    No, you want a hive with an entrance and only pull some egss and emerging brood to start it, if you have them.

    >Can you keep them inside all winter, and just feed them and watch them? What about cleansing flights?

    As already mentioned, they have to have an entrance.

    I recommend a hive with only the size frame you use for brood. That way when it gets too crowded you can take bees from the observation hive and give them to another hive to make room so they don't swarm. A lot of them seem to be two or three deeps with shallow or medium on top. This makes no sense to me as the queen will lay wherever she wants and you are bound to find yourself with a shallow frame of brood. Where do you put it?

    Here's some links for observation hives: http://beetalk.tripod.com/3_frame_obs__hive.htm http://members.aol.com/beetools/obhive.htm http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/obs1.htm http://www.beedata.com/data2/obs_hive.html http://www.honeybeeworld.com/misc/observation.htm http://www.beesource.com/plans/obsrhive.htm

    Here's some for sale: http://tianca.com/tianca27.html http://www.beeequipment.com/search.asp look up product codes 501 and 502 http://www.betterbee.com/departments...EEPING%20TOOLS http://www.bee-commerce.com/ (look for 6 frame observation hive) http://www.draperbee.com/index.htm

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Smile

    ThankYou, ThankYou ThankYou. I can (and will) read all morning now.
    Michelle

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH, USA
    Posts
    6

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    Thanks for all of the help and ideas concerning the bee space! I have decided to use .25" plexiglass (can't pass it up --it's free). I have cut the grooves into the wood for the frames to fit into, and the grooves for the plexiglass to slide into. Hopefully tonight I'll get to cut the plexiglass and the remaining wood components. My hive will be a nine frame hive using all deep frames.

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