The top bar hive(tbh) and trough hive(th) do provide interesting alternatives for those with different purposes or needs that are not addressed by the standard hives available in the US today.
Another alternative is the cabinet type hive used throughout much of Europe. This hive is configured vertically rather than horizontally as in the tbh and th.
The work load is reduced as individual frames can be removed without lifting supers or disturbing the rest of the hive. The back of each super or section is hinged and provides access to the frames.
Much less bending or stooping is needed as most of the frames are at a more comfortable and workable height.
Overwintering could be improved as the bees can migrate vertically following the natural heat flow.
Although these hives have been used for some time throughout Europe, I haven't been able to find any constuction details or designs for these hives. Only a few pictures and references are available in the bee mags.
Anyone have any experience with these hives? I have corresponded with several people who have visited countries that used these hives but construction details aren't available.
I think designing and building a cabinet hive that would use the standard deep frame could be an interesting project and provide a useful alternative hive.
Anyone with ideas or experience?
These have been tried in the UK - Tickner Edwardes designed one around the time of the First World War - but didn't last long. this could have been something to do with the fact that his were used outdoors, while from what I've seen, cabinet style hives are normally used in bee houses. Or am I wrong? Anyone know?
PS on a possibly related issue, Storch's little book 'At the Hive Entrance' (European Apicultural Editions, translated from the German) discusses something called a 'building frame' which is like a window into the hive. This could be glass at the back of a cabinet style hive, but I'm not clear on this. Edwardes used what he called a 'glass dummy frame' which may be the same thing. Anyone know?
[This message has been edited by Robert Brenchley (edited August 26, 2002).]
I have heard a reference to these types of hives, but have never seen a picture or heard from anyone who used them. It seems to me the problems would be:
o How do you break loose the propolis to open this one?
o How do you support the amount of weight of a full super with somthing that is hinges or mobile?
I have considered trying to design one, but the logistics are daunting. It seems to me there should be a way to lift each box a tiny bit to break the propolis, but I can't think of an easy way to do this. Having each box as a drawer seems like a good idea but would still require some way to break the propolis as well as having a very broad base to keep if from tipping when opening a drawer.
I would love to hear from someone who has used these and could explain how they work.
In the August edition of the American Bee Journal on page 647 is an article entitled "Bee Houses and Cabinet Hives". The article has some interesting pictures.
I contacted Bill Lord shortly after the article was published. He was very willing to help but couldn't provide the specific details.
Some great pictures and great food for thought.
PS. Page 650 has an interesting article on trough hives in the Ukraine.
I was planning to add that I couldn't find any info on an internet search regarding cabinet hives. Glad to know there's a mag article with pix. Need to call my 'ol beekeeping buddy and mentor and pay him a visit to see. Thanks for the info.