are the beemax hives really as good as the supply companies make them out to be. They just look like styroofoam to me . Are they very sturdy?
I've never had any but I think I saw one once. Seems like it was styrofoam but a lot more dense than a styrofoam cooler, but certainly not as solid as wood.
I am a little tempted to try them for overwintering, especially my nucs, but I'm not going to invest a lot of money in them until I see what the bees think.
I bought a styrofoam nuc from betterbee havn't used it yet but it is much more dense than the styrofoam used for coolers ( you can't dent it with your finger) it feels very sturdy I will be using wooden frames in it when I make splits. It weghs about half as much as a wooden box of the same dimensions but feels heavy for styrofoam.
Acutally it occured to me that it was about the density of Balsa wood, if that helps any.
I wonder if anyone has built hives out of Balsa wood? They wood be light and have good insulation factors.
I have one but mever used it for bees, just for demos. it is light and doesn`t have sharp edegs so i don`t have to worry about one of the school childern bumping into it.
Around here i would worry about varmets plwing at it.
I've had 3 of them for about 3 years now. There is definetly more brood in them during the spring build up as compared to wooden boxes. I have not noticed any difference between the wooden and styrofoam hives in bee beards during the hot summer months
Pros: Better spring build up than wood, nothing to rot!Good ventilation due to the built in varroa screen in the bottom board
Cons: Very fragile, I've dropped a few boxes and they break really easy but a little glue and you'd never know they were damaged. You also have to be really careful with your hive tool or you will start gougeing out the stryrofoam!. Additionally, after 3 years the bees have started to gnaw the styrofoam where my innter cover meets the top of the box. They've gnawed one so bad that they now use the gap as an entrance! Also, standard wooden equipment such as pollen traps, queen excluders etc are a little tricky to fit. They do fit, its just a little hard due to their slightly smaller dimensions!
Bottom line: I like the 3 that I have ( all mediums) but I will not replace them when the time comes.
You can buy sheet HDU. They use it for sandblasted signs. It is very weatherproof and durable. It comes in different grades of hardness or density. I've been thinking about buying a 4 x 8 x 3/4" sheet and making some supers. It's very pricey, but if the longeivety is there, the cost would be worth it.
I started out last year with one BeeMax styrofoam hive and one traditional wooden hive. So my experience is limited but I see a big difference this year. The BeeMax hive was started later, but made faster progress and even produced enough honey that I felt comfortable taking a share.
This year, the BeeMax girls are off to a faster start than the wooden hive: healthier, larger colony.
I haven't dropped a styro super yet, but I do notice that you can easily dig your hivetool into the styrofoam. There is a better 'fit' between hivebodies and supers and then some propolis seals two parts together, and then you really have to work to separate the two.
From my experience I am convinced the BeeMax is a worthy alternative, but if/when I expand, I will continue to use a combination of BeeMax and traditional wood hives.
Since I want to sell some bees, I'm considering that I might want some styrofoam nucs so they can overwinter better. Maybe just enough of the styrofoam boxes to overwinter would be good and then use all wood for everything else. I'm not going to jump into this too fast but I think I'll try a couple this coming winter and see what I think.
I have found that just using the right size box for the size of the cluster makes a big difference in the spring around here. Putting a 2# package in a nuc takes off faster than a 2# package in a 10 frame box.