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Thread: Stairstep hive

  1. #1
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    I'm going to experiment a lot this spring on what kind of hives are easy to work and are doing well for the bees. Since PermaComb only comes in mediums and the hives I'm buying are installed in mediums, I have to rethink a lot of things. Since I want to use drone comb, both to monitor, and to help in the control of Varroa (at least until I can get regressed) and this will require getting into the brood chamber every couple of weeks, I want access to the brood chambers without moving all of the supers. Here's one design I am contemplating:

    The base is a 22 frame double brood chamber (twice the width of a 10 frame box). The next tier is stepped in from the front (or the back if you prefer) and is a 16-frame box (24 1/2" wide). On top if this is a queen excluder and the supers, stepped in another 6 frames. The steps back would be covered by half of a migratory cover, perhaps with a strip around the edge to provide bee space.

    This gives you access to 5 (6 if you reach a little) frames on the front of the 22 frame double and 5 frames on the front of the 16-frame box without moving any boxes. A frame of drone could be removed and a new one inserted, five frames into either box without much labor. Also the general health of the brood chamber may be assessable by looking at these five frames out of the brood chambers.

    To set this up requires building your own double and 16 frame boxes and a double bottom board (or some kind of table) and cutting a migratory cover in half. Otherwise everything is standard.

    The 16 frame medium box should weigh about the same as a 10 frame deep brood box.

    Any comments? Opinions?

  2. #2
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    Mar 2001
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    Jameson, MO USA
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    Hi Michael
    I'm going to make a long hive holding 50 deep frames, with an open mesh floor, and 3/4" holes for entry/egress for the bees. I figure to put about three holes on each end, and three on each side in the middle, all placed high on the wall of the hive. Then I can put a follower board in the middle to separate it into two hives, and double queen in the spring, and in the summer remove one queen and her brood to another hive to make two hives for increase, while still building a tremendous field force at the beginning of the flow. The holes in the middle will assist air flow in the summer to dry honey, and won't hurt in the winter when the cluster is formed up near an end of the hive.

    It also lets me have a full complement of frames, equal to a stack of full-depth supers 5 high, and allows manipulation of this hive WITHOUT LIFTING ANY HEAVY SUPERS! HOORAY! It also allows the colony to make as big a brood chamber as they wish in the spring without crowding, and hopefully will reduce the swarming in my favorite bee, the Carniolan.

    I also plan to make some carry boxes which will hold 5 frames of capped honey, and will probably weigh 30 to 40 lbs apiece when full. These won't be hard to handle, and I can fill them as I kneel beside the long hive, and won't have to lift and set hive bodies full of sometimes unhappy bees all over the place. This all sounds good to me in theory, and I will try it this year. Hope it works as well as it sounds.
    Cheers

    ------------------
    gnubee

  3. #3
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    >I'm going to make a long hive holding 50 deep frames, with an open mesh floor,

    I built one that's the length of four boxes which is actually 44 deep frames. I have grooves for the screened bottom and intend to put a solid bottom under that (maybe just cardboard to save money since it's underneath and won't get wet). I had roughtly the same plan. I will put some bees in it this spring. My other hives are long tables with double brood boxes (22 frames exactly the width of two boxes) and supers wherever you like. http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/bush/index.htm

    > and 3/4" holes for entry/egress for the bees. I figure to put about three holes on each end, and three on each side in the middle, all placed high on the wall of the hive.

    I wouldn't like to have to worry about gaurd bees on all sides.

    > Then I can put a follower board in the middle to separate it into two hives, and double queen in the spring,

    Will you have a follower board with double queen excluder?

    > and in the summer remove one queen and her brood to another hive to make two hives for increase, while still building a tremendous field force at the beginning of the flow.

    Or leave her and let the bees decide which queen they like.

    >The holes in the middle will assist air flow in the summer to dry honey,

    I use ventilated lids and inner covers.

    > and won't hurt in the winter when the cluster is formed up near an end of the hive.

    which I leave on during the winter.

    >It also lets me have a full complement of frames, equal to a stack of full-depth supers 5 high, and allows manipulation of this hive WITHOUT LIFTING ANY HEAVY SUPERS! HOORAY!

    My thoughts exactly.

    >It also allows the colony to make as big a brood chamber as they wish in the spring without crowding, and hopefully will reduce the swarming in my favorite bee, the Carniolan.

    And makes it difficult to find the queen. Oh well.

    >I also plan to make some carry boxes which will hold 5 frames of capped honey, and will probably weigh 30 to 40 lbs apiece when full. These won't be hard to handle, and I can fill them as I kneel beside the long hive, and won't have to lift and set hive bodies full of sometimes unhappy bees all over the place.

    I built four frame boxes exactly half the width of a standard box. You can put two of them on one of the triangular bee escapes and when they are mostly empty take care of them later. On the table version, I could just have them in the four frame boxes in the first place.

    >This all sounds good to me in theory, and I will try it this year. Hope it works as well as it sounds.

    So do I.

    Unfortunately, for all of my planning with deeps frames (which I prefer for brood and would prefer for supers, just so I can have drawn comb for brood) I am wanting to use PermaComb to quickly regress and it only comes in medium. Also the hives I'm buying with feral stock in them, are in mediums. So, alas, I seem to be stuck planning around mediums.

    Actually I think under ideal theoretical conditions, I'd prefer the Dadant Jumbo depth. 22 frames of that would make a generous brood nest. I think I will set up one of these for comparison. The problem is no one stocks frames or foundation for these.

    Of course, if I just make a long box out of 1 x 12 on my table hive and use top bars, it won't matter about the frames or the foundation.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2002
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    I am planning on building a hive similar to the one mike is planning. It will be as follows:

    A medium that will be double the size of a standard hive. Hold 22 frames. Then I will stack standard mediums onto the top of the double size brood chamber. May divide the center of the brood chamber to run double queens. This way I can check on each side of the brood nest seperatly, by simply removing the super which is directly above the side I am going to work with.


    Any thoughts.

    Just trying to get the most bees without having the eiffel tower to deal with.

    Thanks
    Thesurveyor

    [This message has been edited by thesurveyor (edited February 20, 2003).]

  5. #5
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    Well I have build my double length hive. Built a DE Hive Kit ventilation system for it. It just needs painting and the package of bees that I have ordered from CF Koehnen and Sons.

    Has anyone else got there new hive designs built and ready to go.

    My bees are starting to build up nicely. The maple flow is on and the bees are getting good 60 deg. weather.

    Thesurveyor

  6. #6
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    Dousman,Wi.U.S.A.
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    I find these new hive experiments very interesting. Surveyor, any chane of pics? Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2002
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    Spencer Ia 51
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    I built a 33 frame long hive simular to Micheal's . It looks like a house with a pitched roof that has a ridge vent along the top for ventilation.. That whole top story that sits on the 33 frame brood and food chamber slides off so I can get to the chambers when looking at the bees. Also I have a second story shallow super that is the same dimention of the brood and food chamber ( except shallow) that also has 33 frames.
    Between the brood and food chambers and the shallow super I have build a queen excluder. Also I built an entrance for the shallow super. So I will have 2 entrances when the super is on. I will use a fowler board to block off the first 10 frames in the chambers and as the bees fill them opem up open 10 more frames until the chambers are near full then put the shallow super on. Its all in the trial stages, as on May 1st I get my nucs. All my colonies will have 3 deep hives for brood and food chambers as I'm mainly interested in pollinating the vegetables we plant for commercial use. The long hive will be at my home the others will be in the field. Lot of work but should be fun also. Darrell

  8. #8
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    Sounds like a nice plan. Why not split the shallow super part into three more managable 10 frame boxes?

    I tried to stick with Lanstroth dimensions and do multiples of Langstroth widths for the length of the boxes so I can use standard bound queen excluders and standard supers etc.

  9. #9
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    Hello Everyone,

    I find these ideas very refreshing and innovative. I bet some interesting and useful management ideas will be observed during the coming months. Please don't forget to post them so I can learn from you all.

    And Ok you've got me. Next building project is a long hive with langstroth dimensions. Now I know what to do with those supers, excluders, etc. since building my top bar hive.:> )

    Dennis Murrell


  10. #10
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    Here is a link to website that I have posted the pics. Sorry it took so long, been real busy.
    http://www.selectoutfitters.com/bees

    Pics are slow to load if you are on modem. I will try to cut them down on size, otherwise just wait and enjoy.

    THesurveyor

    [This message has been edited by thesurveyor (edited April 04, 2003).]

  11. #11
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    TheSurveyer,
    The hive looks nice. I would have left out the middle support. I think it will just mess with the comb spacing and I would have been lazy and just taken a couple of medium boxes, put the vent holes in them and a piece of plywood on top and used two seperate tops. Besides then you can have two different height stacks on the same hive.

    I think the more open brood chamber will be a benefit. The queen always seems more willing to move horizontally than vertically across a gap.

    Be sure to let us know how the bees do in it.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    Mike,

    I have a screw in the support bar and can remove it very easily. May do without it.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Thesurveyor

  13. #13
    usbwrangler Guest

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    Hello THesurveyor and Everyone,

    I appreciate the photos. Neat design. Very flexible. I bet it will as fun to work as it was to build. Please keep us informed.

    Thanks
    Dennis


  14. #14
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    Mar 2003
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    Mobile, Alabama
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    A note on regression:

    If you prefer deep frames you may try whole frame Pierco instead of Permacomb. I have read that it is 5.1 although I have not measured it myself.

    ------------------
    Rob Koss

  15. #15
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    A medium Pierco frame is 5.35mm. A deep Pierco frame is 5.25mm. My (self) waxed PermaComb is 4.95mm and it is fully drawn comb, not foundation. Unwaxed PermaComb is 5.15mm. Note: the "across 10 cells" method does not work on PermaComb because the wall thickness is different and has to be taken into account. Since the bees build the walls ont he Pierco it does work on that.

  16. #16
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    Will 5.25 bees draw 4.9 properly?

    [This message has been edited by dcross (edited April 05, 2003).]

  17. #17
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    It's hard to say, but from my experience and others, I've seen 5.4mm bees draw 5.15mm. I would think 5.25mm bees would draw 5.0, but I doubt they would draw 4.9mm.

  18. #18
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    I have one question. I plan on taking out the support and running the whole brood area with 22 frames, like mike suggested. When I install the package of bees should I run a division board until the bees get the first part of the brood chamber full or give them the whole 22 frames starting out?

    Thanks for all the comments so far.

    Thesurveyor

  19. #19
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    The division board would be helpful, but it is spring and it shouldn't get TOO cold. I think you could get by without one, but if you have one, you might want to use it.

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