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  1. #1
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    Default horizontal hive super location?

    Maybe this is an odd question, but I'm profoundly ignorant and hoping to improve, so I'll ask anyway. First, background:

    I'm a would-be beekeeper. I spent this winter studying everything I could find, reading books and forums.

    We have a piece of forest and meadow up in Northern NY that I plan to put a few hives on this spring. I have a couple of 8 frame Langstorth hives-- 1 deep and 4 mediums each. I'm fascinated by top bar hives, so I built one of those, too. However, the more I think about it, the more merit I see in horizontal hives for hobbyists like me, so I'm building one of those too. This hive will have the volume of four 8 frame deeps, and be fitted with standard frames and a divider board to adjust the cavity size to fit the colony.

    An advantage to a horizontal hive of this sort is that it can be supered, if needed. What I'd like to know is: on which end of the hive should a super first be placed, relative to the entrance? I find the arguments for an end entrance on top bar and horizontal hives to be the most persuasive... so if the entrance is on the east end, should the super be stacked on the west end first? Why or why not?

    Another hobby of mine is designing stuff, so I want to take this possibility into account in the design of the hive.

    Thanks!

    Ray

  2. #2
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Hi Ray
    I could not answer your questions regarding climate since I am in Southern California.

    I am using the horizontal design (=2x10 frame deeps) for 6 months (?) or so. Bees LOVE this hive. The hive is blooming and has 2x more bees than needed - I am going to split it ASAP. I use this hive with foundationless truncated frames, essentially, top bars. Since top bars, management of full deep size frames needs to be done carefully. But it is manageable and it's much less invasive to the bees - I just open one inner cover "lid" at the time and work half of the hive - usually bees even did not notice if it is not the nest.

    Adding super - yes, I have the same question. I added super recently at the further (from the entrance) side of the hive, but I have no idea which position is better. My rationale was - I placed the super where the most honey are and they need more space. The entrance is on the long side of the body close to the end -it is adjustable slit maximally 30 cm long; it also has a nice landing board. The rationale was to give bees access to many frames "at the entrance". Also, to me, having entrance on the short side is inconvenient for "geographical" reasons. From hive-management point, having entrance on the short side would be advantageous.

    Additional reason to use further (from the entrance) side of the hive for supering is to have access to the nest. If you place a super on top of the nest, it would essentially eliminates the advantage of the horizontal design- easy access to the nest.

    PS Since it is horizontal and practically not movable - I would recommend to use 2x10 or even 2x12 design. 2x16 is too small to my situation, My 2x10 deep hive is already small to my bees... Since, it is just a box, you could put on top a super of any size, 10, 8 frames, does not matter -you just need to use appropriate "lid", which will cover the rest of the box.
    Good luck with your project!
    Last edited by cerezha; 02-25-2013 at 04:19 PM.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  3. #3
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    Hi Ray

    Additional reason to use further (from the entrance) side of the hive for supering is to have access to the nest. If you place a super on top of the nest, it would essentially eliminates the advantage of the horizontal design- easy access to the nest.

    That's a good point. One of the reasons a horizontal hive appeals to me is the easy manipulation of the brood nest. If you've seen Les Crowder's top hive book, he has a lot of what strikes me as very useful advice on comb manipulation, in response to various situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    PS Since it is horizontal and practically not movable - I would recommend to use 2x10 or even 2x12 design. 2x16 is too small to my situation, My 2x10 deep hive is already small to my bees... Since, it is just a box, you could put on top a super of any size, 10, 8 frames, does not matter -you just need to use appropriate "lid", which will cover the rest of the box.
    Good luck with your project!
    Thanks. I'm a boat designer sometimes, multihulls are my area of interest, and that type of craft requires very light but very strong construction. The hive I'm building uses ply and solid stringers to achieve light weight and low cost, in much the way a boat would be built. Of course, it's a lot easier to build something that doesn't have to float, and doesn't have to deal with the enormous stresses developed in a seaway and as a result of rig forces. In a boat I'd be reinforcing with epoxy and fiberglass, but I'm hoping the solid stringers and Titebond III will do it for a hive.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    ... The hive I'm building uses ply and solid stringers to achieve light weight and low cost, in much the way a boat would be built....
    I do not understand the necessity of stringers in the beehive design, but just keep in mind (I am sure you already know) that any extra space will be used by bees for comb or propolis; any hiding places - are heaven for small hive beetle. When I started bees, I was not aware of SHB. It is my understanding, that ideal beehive should have just flat walls with minimal gaps, steps, holes etc - basically, the box. Another thing, humidity in the beehive is quite high (evaporation of water from the nectar) - I do not think that naked plywood will stay long inside the hive. Normally, beehives are not painted inside... In my climate, the bee-side of unpainted ply inner board turned black and gray after one season...
    Серёжа, Sergey

  5. #5
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    When I super my long hive its at the end away from the entrance. As it turns out her majesty does not tend to lay in the super at this end so any honey in there is for me, the bees can have what is in the lower long box.

    I used the plans from this site but I would make it three boxes long, I cut off at the standard two box length and regret it now. Remember you can always shorten your hive with the follower board but its really hard to lengthen it.

    I have three holes for entrances at the bottom of one end and have a top entrance at the same end. Also, I cut three 2" holes in the bottom and covered them with fly wire for extra ventillation. This has got me through the really hot summer weather really well.
    Cheers
    Rob

  6. #6
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcpb View Post
    ... I would make it three boxes long, I cut off at the standard two box length and regret it now...
    Rob
    How such long box will keep shape? Are you thinking sort of support in the middle? I was thinking the same way and to my bees 2x10 is too short, but 3x10 would require some internal support to the long boards... I guess, you probably want bottom to be attached permanently to the box - it could be enough for support. In my case, I am using screened bottom, so bottom is not permanently attached to the box (vertical walls) - it could make the 3x10 construction flimsy.

    My plan was to add supers to 2x10 to provide space to the bees.

    Could you share your experience with long beehive?
    Серёжа, Sergey

  7. #7
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    I do not understand the necessity of stringers in the beehive design, but just keep in mind (I am sure you already know) that any extra space will be used by bees for comb or propolis; any hiding places - are heaven for small hive beetle. .
    The stringers are external. I came upon the idea after seeing D. Coates' great idea for ply nuc boxes. I realized that if you put a stringer on the top edge of the box, and offset it to form the frame ledge, you would get rigidity and a frame rest out of the same minimal materials.

    You may be right about the durability of plywood.. Maybe I can coat the interior with beeswax.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcpb View Post
    I used the plans from this site but I would make it three boxes long, I cut off at the standard two box length and regret it now. Remember you can always shorten your hive with the follower board but its really hard to lengthen it.
    That was my concern too... my Langstroth equipment is all 8 frame, so I made the box 46" long, which is just short of 4 eight frame deeps long. There's a lot of room in that box; the idea was that one of the drawbacks to conventional equipment for the hobbyist beekeeper is that supers need to be stored, when not in use I'm trying to build a hive big enough to avoid that. But I decided there was no sense in ignoring the possibility of supering, since it should be pretty easy to adapt the hive to do that.

    The more I think about it, the better I like it. I'm thinking I can put inner covers on in sections, so less of the colony is exposed when working one section of the box. I might even make one of the inner covers with a plexiglass window, so I can peek in without disturbing the bees.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    aaaa
    understood. The problem with such design may be that beehive is not thermo-insulated enough - it might be too hot in Florida and too cold in cold place. Traditionally, the hive bodies made from relatively thick boards for thermo /humidity regulation. For the same reason, normally, wood is not painted, waxed etc inside, for the "breathing"...
    Серёжа, Sergey

  10. #10
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    .... I might even make one of the inner covers with a plexiglass window, so I can peek in without disturbing the bees.
    Fantastic idea! I would probably do glass, since bees love to put wax-propolis everywhere. Glass is easier to clean up. OK, I guess, I need a new inner cover for my horizontal beehive. Do you mind if I stole your idea?
    Серёжа, Sergey

  11. #11
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Not at all. But it really wasn't my idea. I saw a beautifully crafted long hive by a European beekeeper who used an inner cover made up of many 1X4 boards, and he had small windows set into several of them.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    ... inner cover made up of many 1X4 boards, and he had small windows set into several of them.
    Really cool! I think one large glass window may not work, because when inner cover is lifted, it may bent slightly and glass will broke. May be your plexi idea is better. Another idea is to use thick tempered glass as an inner cover.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  13. #13
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    I have better luck if the entrance is in the super so they have to come in through the super to get to the colony. I usually move the brood nest to the back of the hive so I don't have to lift supers to get to the brood nest...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshorizontalhives.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    That makes sense, Michael. I recently read an interesting study that might lead to a slightly different way to do it, but it seemed to me to confirm some of the things you've said about top entrances, and the reluctance of workers to cross a queen excluder. The study tried to confirm the latter idea. They set up three sets of colonies. If I remember correctly, one set was a conventional set-up with bottom entrance, one had a bottom entrance and queen excluder between brood box and honey super, and one had an entrance between the excluder and the super.

    I'm probably misremembering the details, but the author of the study concluded that honey production was best in the last setup. He seemed to feel that the workers were indeed reluctant to cross the excluder in the more conventional set, and so the workers tended to backfill the broodbox with honey before using the super, which left the queen with fewer places to lay. As a consequence the hives had less brood area and fewer bees than the ones with an entrance to the super above the excluder.

    I don't have a queen excluder, so probably doesn't apply to me. I assume you would put the entrance at the top of the super?

    Ray

  15. #15
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    > I assume you would put the entrance at the top of the super?

    Yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Here is what I do with mine. I use 5 frame nucs as supers. This one is battened down for our mountain winter at 7000' above sea level.

    longhive winter prep.jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    I had two queens in my double width hive. I also have top entrances at each side.

    They stored the most honey closest to the top entrances. So I ended up having the full size super in the centre and moving frames from the half width supers on the sides (where the entrances are) into the middle super as they where filled and they then finished them off.

    Having an entrance at each end definitely worked better for temperature control than one entrance. But then found having both a top and bottom entrance at both ends seems to work even better.

    I would recommend a bottom entrance of only a 1/2 inch most of the time, and no wider than 1 inch (unless you have temperatures above 35C/95F). I have found that bearding in hot weather has stopped, with having both top and bottom entrances. The fanners go to the bottom entrance and draw air down through the hive and out the bottom. The evaporation from the nectar helps to cool the hive, with the wettest nectar at the top, air is drawn down. So the foragers come and go in the top entrance without having to dodge fanning bees. We've had temperatures of 40C/104F and looking at the top entrance, you wouldn't even think they were hot. (I did open the bottom entrance to a couple of inches on these days.)

    The main thing with the top entrance is that the bees store less nectar in the brood nest and more above the brood nest! This helps to reduce backfilling of the brood nest, therefore reducing conditions for swarm preparation as well.

    Here's a link to some more details and photos:
    http://daveybees.wikidot.com/longhive

  18. #18
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    I'm so glad to see this thread on horizontal langs. I started a thread on bad backs and there is a lot of informative post on these style of hives with photos as well. http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ad-backs-using I'm building 4 deep boxes using lang frames with a divider board with the intent of using supers at each end if needed. I'm using 1 x 12 cut to size western cedar for side walls and 3/4" plywood for bottoms with migratory tops for covers. I'm hoping by having boxes this size it will allow the bees to overwinter better when we get our 5 - 6 week subzero inversion. Michael, Paul and Matt inspired me to move to this type of hive with their contributions.
    Jack Moore ~ Sticky Bear Apiary
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Here are some observations I have had on entrances... I originally started with a single 1" drilled hole and a disk entrance. I also had screened bottoms - but only under the brood nest. I found it worked ok, but the screened bottom didn't make much difference for me, in fact, it made it harder to maintain a good temperature in the hive during the winter because the hive is elevated on small legs and air readily flows into it. The small entrance hole also did not allow enough heat to escape in summer.

    Here is what I do now... I have moved the entrance to the bottom like a standard lang and it is now a 3/4" slit running the entire width, and use a solid bottom with 76mm screened vent holes under the brood nest. I also added a small covered screened vent on the rear top cover to let heat and moisture escape. They seem to work so far. I did not have comb collapse issues with them in the desert last year, and so far most of the hives are booming coming out of Winter.

    If you notice in the pic I posted, the 5 frame nuc is actually being used as a winter food chamber. I have a small spacer covering the gap where the nuc didn't completely cover. They are sized to take a standard lang body, which I would have normally used, but was out when this hive was prepped for winter. It is really windy and cold here in winter, so winter prep is basically loosely covering all screened vents or holes and sealing cracks. I then place some candy bricks in a food chamber for them to munch on. Our winter gets really cold, but does not stay cold for long - so the bees get a break every few days to come up and eat the candy when the daytime temps swing up above freezing. Nights dip to 18 degrees or so.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: horizontal hive super location?

    Paul, I like your setup-- simple and well-thought-out. I saw more pictures of your hives in the thread StickyBear started on back problems. I guess if we live long enough we'll all have back problems at some point, and "beekeeping=back problems" seems to be a pretty well-established correlation. Matt, I saw pics of your beautiful horizontal hive in that thread too. I found the thread by searching beeesource. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why there isn't more buzz about these hives, at least for non-migratory small-scale beekeepers.

    One of the reasons I'm building one is that I was very taken with the thorough description of comb manipulation in Crowder's top bar book. If you only have a few hives and can take the time to keep up with them, it looks like you can really direct the bees to manage their hive in a way that allows you to achieve your goals as well as the bees' goals. One thing I've taken away from my study of the subject is that bees are wild animals that can't be trained. You're working within a natural system that seems to be designed to resist manipulations that try to change the ingrained behaviors of the bees. Being able to manipulate the combs without the bees being much disturbed seems like a tool that could be very powerful, with some study and insight.

    Speaking of that, (and not to encourage thread driuft, but...) I'm reading an ancient book by M. Quinby. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25185...25185-h.htm#II
    It was published in 1853, so he got a lot of the biology a little wrong, but what impresses me about the book is the intensity he brought to his observations. I'm guessing that intensity may be the difference between good beekeepers and great beekeepers.

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