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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    943

    Question Retailer wants large observation hive

    A retailer would like to put in a very large honey display with not only different hive products but also a very large (think 4 or 5 frame) observation hive. They were recently in Moscow for a trade show and visited a honey festival of some sort. He said there were hundreds of tiny booths displaying all sorts or different honeys and hive products and it inspired him to set up a large display in his store with displays of all different honeys with an emphasis on local products. It is a large and growing agritourism site with probably 100,000 to 200,000 visitors or more per year. It's a busy place -- open all year but especially busy in strawberry and peach seasons.

    They have asked me what it would take to set it up and maintain it (it's about 25 miles from my house). I would get to provide honey, candles, and other hive products for sale. Other local hive products will also be there along with outside products i.e. Savannah Bee. Here were some of my initial thoughts on it.

    1- The OH needs to be very visible but out of reach -- maybe surrounded by a stairstep display. Rossman has a nice rotatable OH, but I don't think it's wise to let the public spin it around. It could be set so both sides are visible so they can see the queen, etc.

    2- Outside where the bees will exit is about 10-12 feet of grass and hedge and then the outer edge of the parking lot. This makes me nervous. Even after some persuasion, they really don't want to put it in another location with a less conspicuous entrance. I told him that as a minimum, where the hive exits the wall (about 3-4 feet off the ground) would need to be surrounded by a 6-8 ft fence (solid PVC fence panels would look nice) maybe 8 ft square with a gate so I can get into it. The fence will hide the entrance and force the bees up overhead. When maintenance is needed, after hours the hive can be put on a cart and wheeled outside by the entrance for maintenance. Still makes me nervous, especially potential swarming.

    3- Still working on the information display content, but they do have access to a graphic arts vendor who can put any content on large posters, foam boards, or other displays and make things looks professional.

    4- I am currently thinking the OH will need checked monthly and opened up and cleaned 3 to 4 times per year.

    Anyone have experience doing something like this? However much time I estimate, I'm sure it will be 3 times that. But I am also pretty sure it will bring them a lot more traffic and honey sales will increase a bunch. I love this idea for a lot of reasons, but with that many visitors a lot of things can happen.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Durand, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    No personal experience, but I remember seeing an observation hive at the Smithsonian Natural History museum in DC. Maybe give them a call and see if they have any advice for managing something like that in a high traffic public place.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Talbot Co., MD
    Posts
    85

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    That hive at the Smithsonian has the exit tube like 20' or so up in the air.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    the ob hive will need at least an eyeball check every couple days to head off problems, preferably daily. if you dont, expect problems. a public ob hive is a BIG undertaking. good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    248

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    One of the beekeeping mags had a story about a very large, sturdy OH in a public or school library. The thing looked like it was built like a tank. I honestly don't remember if it was ABJ or Bee Culture but those are the only two I get.

    My opinion is that you should build it very solid, put it where it is pretty constantly monitored from the cash register or something, and let the public get right up to it. Short of allowing that I don't think you should bother. If they can't get close enough to actually see pollen, nectar, eggs, larvae, emerging bees, the bee dance taking place on the frames, etc. then you may as well just save the trouble and put up some pictures.

    I would put the exit even with the top of the hive so that it is fairly high off the ground outside.
    Carl

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    standish, michigan
    Posts
    212

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    I have one pine observation hive left:

    I only open mine once a year to scrape excess burr comb off the glass. If your bee space is correct and you have a good queen you will hardly ever have to do any maintence on the hive.
    Yes the hive could be fixed very easily within a few seconds to not spin.
    Due to the large base of the hive and connection points it would be impossible to tip over.
    You can PM me if you want more information.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Paulding County, Georgia
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    Jordan, those hives are very nice.

    Can bees live long term in such a hive? My concern would be the size limitations and the impact of light on their behavior.

    Also, if they are inside during the winter, they never go into a torpor (slow feeding, die off) and I bet they eat all their stores rather quickly.

    What has been your experience with keeping bees in a OH long term?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    standish, michigan
    Posts
    212

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    Yes they live just like a normal for unlimited years. The hive gets covered with a sheet when you are not viewing it so that the light does not impact them. During the winter they do cluster and start feeding slow. They never have went through all there stores yet though.
    They do tend to through off small swarms during the summer if you have a good queen. The only thing you have to do long term is make sure that the glass stays clean so you can see them. Other than that it is a regular hive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Polk county, Florida
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    Since bees can't see red (right?) would it make the disturbance from the light less of an issue if the area had red filtered light? Of course that wouldn't look very nice. Might be kind of creepy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    DraperBee has very nice observation hives for sale, make sure if you use a plastic (ABS<PVC) pipe as an exit/entrance that you put thread/string/rope so the bees can have something to grip, I made that mistake!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    standish, michigan
    Posts
    212

    Default Re: Retailer wants large observation hive

    You can also use sand paper on the inside of the pipe so the bees have somthing to hold on to. Mine works perfect such roughed up.

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