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  1. #1
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    Jan 2012
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    Default what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I'm near Fort Lewis/McChord base and my place is about 95% handicap accessable already. I have been thinking about offering some of the disabled service members at the base access to my place to experience the bees, horses, gardening and poultry.

    I would appreciate any input from folks with disabilities that have been beekeepers so I can prepare some specialized hives for easy access.
    I assume I'll have to build some form of top bar hives, but at what height and what kind of clearance below?
    Any tips would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,660

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    To work hives from a wheelchair or power scooter, I'd think the tops of the hives should be somewhere from 2 1/2 to 3 feet off the ground. Someone that needs to stand, the bottom of the hives might should be about 2 feet off the ground, or higher if they have problems bending at the waist. It may be a good idea to make friends of some and ask what would be good for them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    gordo, al
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    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    28" to 34" is typical wheelchair access height. While I'm not in a wheelchair I would think the top of your hive would have to be around this height. A horizontal hive with the langstroth frames might work well. Sidewalk or pavement would make it easier on wheel access to. Maybe someone with actual experience with wheelchair access will chime in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Davie, Florida, USA
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    825

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Lauri: Though I have no experience, my thinking is that like those who walk, it is easier to work the hive at about waist level, which would lead me to think it should be around seat level for a wheelchair confined individual for brood, which would also allow them access to work an added super, as well. Just thoughts, not facts. I would also think allowing them access from the rear and side would be most beneficial. While I am sorry I can't offer any factual assistance with your questions, I do want to say I certainly admire your effort!! Kudos to you! I hope somebody has great answers for you! Please keep us updated...I love your idea!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    horseheads ny
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    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I'm in a wheelchair and I use langstroth hives. solid ground and fairly level with out any obstacles around the hives will help for starters. I have mine on a 2 x4 so they dont get to high this way I can work them without them being right in my face.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2009
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    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
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    900

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by lnbjr View Post
    I'm in a wheelchair and I use langstroth hives. solid ground and fairly level with out any obstacles around the hives will help for starters. I have mine on a 2 x4 so they dont get to high this way I can work them without them being right in my face.
    I think this is fantastic. I designed a "Scented garden" for wheelchair access, blind people and walking impairedmany years ago. It was a great success - sadly the garden was destroyed some years later.
    Inbjr - would you have any photos or drawings with dimensions?
    thanks

    max

  7. #7
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    Apr 2012
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    Loup City, NE
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    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Lauri- Just a thought, I use a lot of double deep 5frame langs, if you put them on 2x4's like Inbjr suggested
    it might work out to be a nice little setup. I love your idea.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Bloomfield,KY
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    279

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Lauri- While attending a bee school last month in Frankfort, there was a gentleman that was demonstrating a hive design that he came up with. The design is for those that can't lift or work a normal hive. His web site is http://royaltyhives.com. The site is just getting up and running but it has the info to reach the person who was demonstrating it. Good Luck.
    "Of all God's creatures, only the honeybee improves its environment and preys on no other species."--Haydon Brown

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
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    495

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    perhaps consider a long hive or TBH as that puts a majority (or all the hive) at the same level.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
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    792

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I don't have advice or suggestions but I think you are doing a great thing and I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I would use a longhive, probably a 3x width. Here's my double width hive: http://daveybees.wikidot.com/longhive

  12. #12

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I certainly give you a tip of the hat for your efforts!

    Perhaps instead of changing hive design, you could build a movable (and maybe adjustable) ramp to suit what is already designed/built. That would save reinventing the wheel.

    Good luck!
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
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    260

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Just thinking out loud here (well in type anyway), I would go with a horizontal langstroth as some people suggested. Depending on the level of disability or experience, there is less risk of comb breakage than with a straight topbar hive.
    I would think that you could set up a horizontal that could be wheeled under to get close. That would avoid awkward twisting to the side for access or having to lean as far forward, though if you wheeled alongside the hive, it could be put lower so that it would be easier to lift the frames up and out for inspection.
    You could also make it so you could wheel under the side of the hive which would essentially have a hive in your lap at that point. If you went that direction I would look at medium versus deep frames next. I would think a good approximation would be to put a hive body with frames running perpendicular to you (frames of honey would be more accurate for weight) on a desk and wheel a chair under the desk. My worry with deep frames is that they might force someone to lift frames fairly high to remove them. Even though the top of the hive would sit about 12-16inches off your lap (accounting for leg clearance under and bottom board space) you would have to lift the frame 9 inches above that and 20 inches in front of you (grabbing the other end of the frame). That would end with you holding a 7lb frame up and out about two feet off your lap, which for me is head level. A medium frame would lower the distance lifted by 6 inches, hive body is 3 inches shorter and frame is three inches shorter as well. That would make a big difference in my opinion.
    Of course you could also make the hive extra long with empty space at the end. This would allow for frames to be turned parallel and brought in close before lifting them up by sliding them down to make space.
    I would also recommend a tilt back lid because you can add a lift assist to it like you get for the hood of your car.

    Just some thoughts, I’m finishing up a horizontal lang myself in the next week or two here, still need some inserts and some urethane to protect it (way too big to wax dip)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,127

    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    You can, if anchored well enough for wind, set up a long hive at the appropriate height to be the easiest for the person. I'd probably do a long hive:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshorizontalhives.htm

    I did see the one mentioned above, and it was interesting and might work well also:

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

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    Thumbs Up Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    I support you in this endeavor.

    The world needs more people who recognize the sacrifice soldiers, sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coasties make and have made to serve. I'm not talking so much of the support people as the boots on the ground or other missions that bring justice to the enemy. May I send a small gift ($) to help with your expenses?

    Lifting frames (not to mention supers or hive bodies) from a sitting position with arms extended involves quite a strain on the vertebral column. Small frames like the ones in your queen mating NUCs would be ideal for providing the experience without stress caused by the lifting/twisting action necessary to work a hive to the side. Perhaps you could mount the NUCs on rotating arm that can be positioned right in their lap -I realize that is impractical for beekeeping, but to experience a NUC hive, complete with brood, workers, drones and a queen all at your fingertips would make an impression. JMO
    Last edited by Lburou; 04-28-2013 at 09:27 PM.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  16. #16
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    Jan 2012
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    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    Wow Lee, very generous of you to offer.
    I'll say not yet to donations, but thank you.

    I put the word out recently and will get a few military personnel in here first, see what kind of response I will get, see how many people are interested and then determine what the folks will need. Certainly a jacket/veil, tools and smokers.

    I need to find out if I need to set it up as a non profit, find out if I need insurance, etc. Get in touch with the Wounded Worriors program to see if they are interested in what I have to offer. I assume they will have a lot of info for me and be able to guide me in the set up details.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: what to set up for wheelchair bound beekeeper

    If money is not an object a scissors jack something like a motorcycle lift would be great for changing the height so the person could look down into the hive (thinking lang) at times.


    If you don't want or can't afford a jack for this project some kind of lift mechanism would come in handy even if it were made of wood. I know you could make it pretty.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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