I have been working very hard at not working so hard at beekeeping lately. I'm building all kinds of new equipment. It's the lifting and bending and reaching with heavy objects that I'm trying to get away from.
So far I have built tables like large bottom boards that hold up to four hive bodies with the frames running width ways. The bees seem to like this ok, but I'm thinking a trough hive (all one box) would work better for the base so the hive would communicate better.
Also I was going to experiment with some top bars for my comb honey instead of frames.
Also I built some half width deep supers. They hold four deep frames and two side by side make the width of one Lanstroth box. I made them like bookends with the inside side not as deep to allow the bees to move between the two boxes. The bees seem to like this fine and fill them. This allows me to get brood foundation drawn in my honey supers and extract it for later use.
I see the "urban bee condo" is slightly similar to some of what I'm doing.
Acually my first trough hive was about 26 years ago and I built it for an elderly lady who loved bees but couldn't lift a shallow super. I moved shortly after and didn't get to see how well it worked.
One thing I love about the trough hive (and the psuedo one I have with boxes) is I can go straight to the brood nest without moving everything.
One concern I have is how well a trough hive will winter and what my best method of wintering would be.
Has anyone else tried any of these methods of avoiding lifting supers? What have you tried and how did it work?
What is a trough hive, and how does it enable you to get to the brood faster? What is an urban bee condo? I sometimes find lifting difficult ( especially when I've added 4 honey supers!) and would like information on ways to minimize lifting heavy supers.
http://www.beesource.com/eob/condo/index.htm is on this web site and shows and describes a hive someone is using that they call an "urban bee condo". http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/api99.htm is a web site that shows a trough hive from Denmark.
Basicaly a trough hive is like a trough. It's one long box full of frames with no boxes on top. Mine is the size of four hives with the long sides together. It will hold about 44 frames. You could run it with just this, or you could put some shallow supers on, or I built some four frame boxes that are half of the width of a Lanstroth deep. So they are 8 1/8" wide and about 20" long. That way I can pick up the whole box, but it's not very heavy. If you run the hive on one level without any supers, then all you do to get to the brood chamber is open the front of the hive up (I have four ventilated lids with inner covers, but you could also use four migratory covers, they have to be just the width of the hive and not a telescopic) So, in other words I take the front lid and inner cover off and there is the brood chamber. The bees naturally put the brood chamber near the entrance. You can run it without a queen excluder or you could get a plastic one and make a follower board with an excluder or you can buy a follower board/queen excluder from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm http://www.beeequipment.com/shop.asp?p=23
Since it is all on one level you never have to lift a box to get to anything. If you get the locking screen door latches and put them on to hold the lids down, you don't have to lift any bricks or blocks or whatever to hold on the lids. If you put it at a comfortable height (between about 24 and 32 inches high?) then you don't have to bend over to pick anything up. If you have some half supers or some 5 frame nuc boxes you can steal your honey off into them to carry. I also have several long tables that act like a bottom board and I put regular boxes on it. as a sort of psuedo trough hive. The nice thing about it is I didn't have to build anything but the table I put the regular boxes on.
Michael- thanks for the links. I like the condo idea. Are the follower boards for enclosing space in the hive body?
I just finished building a top bar hive for next year that is approx twice the size of a Lang hive body. It holds 18 bars plus a spacer bar at the rear to remove and make manipulating the hive a little roomier. (I'm hoping the bees don't build on the spacer- who knows?). It will also hold traditional frames if the top bar method doesn't work well for whatever reason.
>Are the follower boards for enclosing space in the hive body?
Yes. A follower board is a board shaped kind of like a frame except wide enough, deep enough and tall enough to block off the rest of the body of the hive. It may be that is what your "spacer" board is. You can use it like your "spacer" board, except you can move it back and forth to make the hive bigger or smaller.
>I just finished building a top bar hive for next year that is approx twice the size of a Lang hive body. It holds 18 bars plus a spacer bar at the rear to remove and make manipulating the hive a little roomier. (I'm hoping the bees don't build on the spacer- who knows?).
Bees will do whatever they want.
I'd have made it bigger. My theory is that I want everything on one level horizontally. Two brood boxes is twenty frames and two supers is fourty. If you built it so you could put four regular supers on top it would end up fourty three frames (fourty plus you'll gain one for each place the supers sides are together) That seems like a nice size to me.
But if you manage it well, I think yours will work fine. It will just require closer watching to make sure it doesn't get too full and swarm and not steal too much (or save it to put back) so they have a full hive come winter. I think they would winter fine if it was full. You could also put supers on top of it to get more room if you think you need it.
>It will also hold traditional frames if the top bar method doesn't work well for whatever reason.
That's what I did also, so I can use regular frames if I like.
Has anyone tried arranging the frames parallel to the long side of a trough hive?
Overwintering could be improved as the bees might migrate easier than when the frames are perpendicular to the long side of the hive.
BWrangler- do you mean by putting supports across the smaller diameter to use for frame rests and lining the frames up end to end?
Several schemes come to my mind. Another possibility would be to use frames that have the ends of the topbar cut at an angle so that the frames interlace with each other and the side bars are flush with each other.
A bottom support could be used where they join if needed.
I have seen pictures of frames from mating nucs that use this concept. It allows the small frames to be joined and placed in a standard size hive for overwintering.
I bet these carpenture guys could come up with some very neat ideas, much better than this wood termite. Barry? Anyone else?
Well Dennis, I'll give it some thought. For this to work, one would need to make the long dimension of the hive equal to the overall length of a frame times 3, 4, or 5. I suppose you could put a short dado into the long sides of the hive where the frames would rest and install a steel bar into the slot so the frame rest could bear on it. Maybe some 1/8" stock that is 1-1/2". Then there would only be an 1/8" gap between each set of frames. Will this, along with the 2 end bar thicknesses (3/8" + 3/8" + 1/8" = 7/8") retard the bees from crossing over to the next frame?
Interesting idea that I will give some thinking to.
Hi Barry and Everyone,
Maybe a frame supported on the bottom rather than hanging from the lug on the top would work. The frame spacing could still be controlled by the end bars but the lugs on the top bar could be completely removed or reduced in length to provide a beespace between frames.
Still chewing on cellulose but thinking of all the fun I'll be having with the table saw.
I'm not sure I see what the advatage to all of this would be.
I'm sorry. I should have included more quotes from previous posts. This could be one way to run a trough hive with the frames parallel to the long side of the hive. Maybe the bees would overwinter better as they might more readily migrate sideways down the long stretch of comb.
So the object is to get a longer run of comb with the theory that the bees will more readily move in the direction of the comb? I'm not sure it matters to the bees. Don't you think they would connect the combs where the ends of the bars meet?
Hi Michael and Everyone,
If the ends of the frames were flush or maybe with just a beespace between them it should work with minimal burr comb.
When the bees move vertically in a standard hive, they move about an inch and a half across non-comb going from one frame to the next one above it. I don't know what kind of non-comb distance they would move sideways.
It has been reported by others that the bees are very reluctant to move horizontally during winter in a TBH or trough hive with the frames parallel with the small side of the hive.
[This message has been edited by BWrangler (edited August 28, 2002).]
While looking for info on cabinet hives I came across an article in the American Bee Journal, August 2000, page 650 on Beekeeping in the Ukraine. They use a trough type hive and some interesting ideas concerning the use of a pillow somewhat like some of the Canadians use.