I would like to contribute my experience to the often asked question: “Which is best a double-wide or a single-wide design for an Observation Hive”?
I have had bees since I was a kid and I’m the creator of the Bonterra Bees Observation Hive models and I have had many hours observing ObHs. I‘ve come to know and love bees, however I should add, though disapointing, I’ve never had a two way conversation with one of them, although I've tried, and I must say they have often confounded my predictions and often proven me wrong, kinda like beekeepers.
That said, we offer both styles but we highly recommend double-wide hives.
First: “How often will I be able to see the Queen in a DW, double-wide hive”? That is the contentious question I often hear.
From our experience the Queen will be doing a couple of things in an ObH during all but the deepest, coldest “clustering” part of the winter season. She will be on the viewable outside of a double-wide frame design at least part time everyday. She will be laying eggs, looking for clean, empty cells and at the same time she will be circulating thru nearly the whole hive scouting and collecting Colony status.
Second: The Queen’s activities are just some of the many fascinating, entertaining and educational bee activities to attract your attention, to watch and learn from. Don’t forget those lazy drones and the many faceted lives of the worker bees with their multitude of duties.
Third: We believe a double-wide hive is a healthier hive with more frames, more condensed comb structures as in a feral hive, there’s less distance for those hard working little girls to have to hike around the Colony when doing their work, honey stores are closer to brood areas and, importantly, in our experience the double-wide hive will prove to require less beekeeper maintenance.
Forth: We believe anything less than 6 deep frames is more of a temporary, display hive and it will stand a good chance of dying out and/or will take a lot of extra maintenance. We suggest a minimum of 6 frames. Configuring 6, 8 and 10 deep frames in a double-wide design makes a more manageable height for an ObH.
Every beekeeper is different and it should be noted that each Colony is different and is an individual maintaining itself in its’ many different environments. We are just saying, in our experience with Observation Hives and with all things considered, we recommend double-wide designs.