I have a friend who has severe arthritis in her hands - to the point where picking up a piece of paper or holding a pen is difficult.
I put a hive in her garden for her to enjoy and for me to have a good spot for my bees. She likes the bees so much that now she wants a hive of her own.
I gave her a few catalogues but figured she would see how manipulating the hives and tending to bees might be too difficult.
She saw something in the Brushy Mountain catalogue called an "English Garden Hive" (item 254 at http://www.beeequipment.com ) that says
Fully ASSEMBLED 8-Frame Hive with an English style copper pitched roof. Consists of 2-- 8 Frame medium depth supers with black Superframes,copper top, inner cover, cypress IPM bottom board, and hive stand. Lighter weight and easier to handle than the standard 10 frame hive.Great for the home gardener that needs honeybees for pollination. Just take out of the box and add bees.
Would this be good for someone of limited use of her hands and limited budget? will those bees have enough room? Carol is thinking the 8 frame boxes will be easier for her to handle but I'm thinking 8-frame medium depth supers will fill up very quickly.
I hate to discourage her because it's wonderful to see her getting so much enjoyment and who am I to say her handicap makes beekeeping impossible? this is a very difficult situation for me. Any advice you can give me will be appreciated.
[This message has been edited by mnist (edited August 15, 2004).]
I'm getting my first hives next year, so take anything I say with a few pounds of salt. Reading here I would think that one of the Top Bar Hives might work for her. the only lifting is the lid and the frames from what I've read. Check this link: http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/index.htm
Or maybe a double or triple long Lang would be better. The frames would be standard then.
I'm sure when Michael Bush and others read your post, they will have lots more info to give.
[This message has been edited by Pugs (edited August 16, 2004).]
I have a lot of Brushy Mt.'s 8 frame boxes and equipment. The 8 frame boxes are much easier to lift partly because they are 12 pounds lighter but also because weight close to your body is eaiser to lift than farther. And the two frames you've removed are the furthest away. But an 8 frame box full of honey still weighs 48 pounds.
It is possible to run a hive like this and only lift one frame at a time, but it requires moving 40 frames or so in a booming hive to get to the brood nest.
A long hive would be easier. You can run a long hive and only lift one frame at a time if you want and get directly to the brood nest by simply removing the lid. Mine are three boxes long (48 3/4" long) and I use three migratory covers for lids. You would have to make them yourself, since no one else makes them. I would consider making and shipping one, but I'm not sure about shipping something that large in size. I have three long mediums with bees in them right now and one double long Dadant deep. One medium frame full of honey weighs about 6 pounds. One deep frame full of honey weighs about 9 pounds. A dadant deep frame weighs about 12 pounds. If lifting is an issue I think I'd go for the medium depth.
If you search on "long hives" you'll probably find some discussions on this subject.
Top bar hives might be too much a challenge for a first hive.Perhaps hand bee stings will help relieve her arthritis symptoms.
Thanks for your ideas!
Michael, the long hive sounds best for someone like Carol. She may know someone who has the tools to build one for her. It's certainly worth looking into! I printed out all your photos and descriptions. Thank you
Beemaninsa, I'm sorry to say Carol's athritis goes beyond sting therapy; last winter she had surgery to rebuild her what athritis did to her joints. She's a lot better now but still nowhere near able to do what most of us find easy.
It's good to have so many knowledgeable people out there for advice.
[This message has been edited by mnist (edited August 16, 2004).]
What I worry about for her is removing heavy frames. Arthur makes your grip weak. I think a long hive and a good frame grip would be a must. I have one weak arm from the same fall that messed up my back. That hand can not pull a frame out. So I work backwards with my right hand waiting for the left to pry it out. I would suggest a 3 hive box long medium hive. Order standard frames(which ever you prefer plastic/wax/ect) to what ever size you choose. The cuts could be made with a simple skil saw. you only have to cut a rabbet for the frames and square cut the ends. If you make a solid bottom it will hold it square(plywood cut to size). If you use 2X8 which is actually 7 1/2 inches it works perfect for giving you your floor space(6 3/4(for a medium) plus 3/4 which is on your normal bottom board). The prblem with this design is cleaning the floor. You have to remove each frame and then turn it upside down to clean it out. I made some nucs like this since I get alot of scrap lumber. I do have a cheap table saw which made cutting the rabbet easier. I have now borrowed a dado blade which makes for alot nicer and cleaner rabbet.