I am interested in trying to design a horizontal beehive using deep Langstroth frames. Basically the idea would be a topbar hive design with straight walls, frame rests and deep frames.
The reasons I want to do this are basically to get to benefits of using frames -- the comb would be reusable, extractable, and people could get nucs from Langstroth beekeepers. However, I see a lot of new beekeepers, esp. women, who simply do not do well lifting full boxes (even mediums are too much for some people I've mentored). Those people don't enjoy working hives and tend to give up because they don't like lifting and separating boxes.
OTOH, I think topbar hives pose an extra set of problem, which are basically the opposites of the benefits from frames listed above (no reusable comb and not using the frames everybody else uses), plus some others (e.g., learning to prevent cross-comb).
I have done some recent study of Russian horizontal hives, which use bigger frames and are set up sort of like a topbar hive. However, the problem with those is that the large frames are not available here, and the frames really don't fit in an extractor.
However, I have learned that one problem I thought this design would have is not really a problem. Specifically, I thought the bees would create a mess in the gaps between the frames. (Unlike topbars, there will be gaps between the frames.) In the Russian hives, they cover the tops of the frames with a sheet of burlap to cover the gaps. The bees propolize it down, but it apparently can be removed. So I think that problem probably has a simple solution.
The question I have is what the dimensions should be. Obviously, the width of the frames dictates one side. However, I'm not sure how long the hive should bee. Would a little less than 48" be okay, since that could use up a 8 foot long 1x12? Exactly how long would be best?
Is there likely to be problems with the sides bowing out? If so, any thoughts on how to control that?
Also, it seems to me this idea (a long horizontal hive consisting of deep frames) can't possibly be a new idea. Has somebody else tried this or have access to plans?
Any suggestions welcomed,