Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Glastonbury, CT
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    23

    Default Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    I have to say I'm pretty disappointed with BackyardHive. I bought into all the kumbaya "bee-guardian" malarkey and ended up with the varroa mite infestation from hell. Three separate requests for help were completely ignored, but they're always there when you have money to spend. A late August alcohol wash yielded 16 mites/100 bees. Autopsies on drone comb revealed mites in every cell, sometimes up to 4 mites in a single cell. It was nuts. We tried using hop-guard II to save the hive, but the bees absconded and that was that.

    I mainly blame my inexperience being a first-year keeper. However, I also blame the design of this hive. There is no way to treat for mites, should you decide to treat for mites, because as far as I can tell, the designers deliberately designed it that way.

    I pulled the hive down in to my shop and cut out the bottom and installed a new bottom. I cut two holes, instead of one long one, to preserve the support installed in the middle of the hive base. I routed a 1/2 wide by 1/4 deep groove and tacked #8 hardware cloth into the opening. I put a frame on top of that to secure everything. I attached a new bottom to the supports. That gave me enough space to slide in two drawers; one under the brood and another under the honey. The drawers can accommodate sticky paper, diatomaceous earth, or MiteAway strips.

    Yes, I know, I could have drilled a hole and installed a port for an oxalic acid vaporizer, but this was the route I chose to go. Bees arrive 4/22. I hope this works. At least this year I feel like I can do something to treat instead of just watching helplessly as varroa decimates a colony.

    IMG_20180324_102338.jpg IMG_20180405_165839.jpg
    IMG_20180407_155439.jpg IMG_20180407_112547.jpg

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    725

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Wow. Sorry to hear about your experience. I hope things go better for you this year. I was so close to ordering one of the those cathedral hives last year...
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    319

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    g1nko, I appreciate you sharing your experience, and feel for your loss. I think treatment free is possible and attainable, but the hive design is not a panacea. I dislike the folks who pretend it is (be they "flow hive" or "cathedral hive" or even "top bar hive" or "lang". It isn't the shape of the box which will save the bees; people who pretend it is have an agenda and are probably selling bee boxes).

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,083

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    I have to say I'm pretty disappointed with BackyardHive....
    Your hive really does not have much to do with the mites.
    Unsure why would anyone believe into some magic there.
    Don't kick the hive however expensive it may be...
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,061

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Unsure why would anyone believe into some magic there.
    Because the promoters of many alternative hive designs actually say their hive is "more natural", "designed for the bees not the beekeeper", or a host of other buzz phrases, and claim that as such their hives will help the bees fight off mites and other ailments.

    If you look at even old Beesource posts from 10 years ago you will see the same being actively promoted for TBH's. It was a crime to say your TBH had mites. Luckily people have moved on from that. But there's still plenty of bad information out there to lead newby's astray, and think that a particular hive design will "save the bees".
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,083

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Because the promoters of many alternative hive designs actually say their hive is "more natural", ....
    Well, these promoters forgot to say that "natural" might also benefits the mites. Haha..
    Anyway, while I don't treat anyway and my own hives are darn natural too - mites went ahead and wiped out most of my bees too.
    Not a big deal; need to figure out how to manage these bugs better, recover, and move on.

    While designs do have certain benefits/drawbacks and I will argue myself over physics and stuff,.... the so-claimed anti-mite properties of wooden hives are truly funny.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,061

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Well said.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    humboldt CA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Sorry Newb here so I might be off base but is there any reason an oxalic acid dribble would not work on a cathedral hive?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    like any topbar hive is should be fine, space out all the bars with a little gap let the bees fill in for a few min and then dribble

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    I have long hives that are top bars, and I found since the bottom of the hive (solid) has comb to within bee space...there is no room for an oxalic acid vaporizer below the combs. I ended up cutting 1" holes in the bottom of the hives - yes they had bees in them at the time, so that was more fun that it could have been - and pressing the vaporizer up against the hole.

    Couple things I learned about OAV through the school of hard knocks:
    1. The battery matters. Try out the vaporizer with battery of choice before trusting it to work on your hives. Don't use car battery THAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR CAR. it's not made for 2 min discharges...
    2. OAV can only reach a few combs from its source, if the combs are within bee space of the bottom and you have a hole in the hive as your way of getting OAV into the hive.
    3. A screened bottom board is essential design component, for treating a top bar hive with OAV and for checking for mite drop afterwards.

    A dribble takes a lot more time if you have to move the combs apart to get to the bees, unlike in a frame hive where you just take the lid off, or the top box.

    But I love working a top bar - I am just sneaking up on the bees from the side, leaving their "roof" alone. So they are pretty calm and go about their business. I feel like I get a chance to see the hive operating without interference while I'm inspecting.

    I also really like how easily I can see the "size" of the hive change with each inspection - how many bars are covered with bees and how many bars of brood. It's harder to see in a Lang, because the bees can be clustered up against the top of the frames, and not be on the bottom, so you can get fooled by how many are there.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    A interesting horizontal design but lack of users and dismal public support from backyardbeehive make it a rare hive to find in use. Preservationists used to be fond of them but many have moved to skeps or long horizontal. As a wood worker I loved this hive and bees do great in the PNW in them. I find it interesting that the few users of them have seemed to drop out or switch.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,083

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Quote Originally Posted by Matsuda View Post
    A interesting horizontal design but lack of users and dismal public support from backyardbeehive make it a rare hive to find in use. Preservationists used to be fond of them but many have moved to skeps or long horizontal. As a wood worker I loved this hive and bees do great in the PNW in them. I find it interesting that the few users of them have seemed to drop out or switch.
    If I can not build a hive from free dumpster scraps - I don't need such hive.
    Over-engineered and expensive.
    Next...
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,504

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    Personally, I'm not a fan of Top Bar Hives - but - I fully accept that their big strengths lie in simplicity and ease of construction. With this so-called 'Cathedral Hive' (never heard of it before now, and had to look it up), even these qualities are lost. So - can't see what the attraction is ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  15. #14

    Default Re: Cathedral hive - Year 2 - Modified

    [QUOTE=g1nko;1617683] I bought into all the kumbaya "bee-guardian" malarkey and ended up with the varroa mite infestation from hell.


    Caveat Emptor

    I'm not sure where you came across the "be a bee guardian and you'll never get varroa" literature. Sure, there's a lot of talk out there around changing methods (since by all accounts the prevailing methods have not produced resistant bees to present problems) and yeah sure, there's some fairly clever marketing around alternate hive designs these days. But even a casual investigation into beekeeping reveals that varroa and other problems are a fact of life now regardless of shape of box you put em in. One can hardly blame the hive design for the fact that your colony picked up a parasite that's basically ubiquitous. If your bees go out to forage almost anywhere in the world other than Australia (supposedly) then they risk picking up varroa and a list of other maladies....the hive design has nothing to do with it. A cursory review of the pros and cons of varying hive types reveals a general consensus that top bar hives suffer from a "difficulty of treatment" factor as most treatment methods have been developed with an eye toward commercial beekeeping and the Langstroth design. This does not make them un-treatable but it does mean that if you want turnkey solutions off the shelf, TB hives are probably not going to be for you or will require some creativity. It's unfortunate boutique TBH manufacturers aren't more forthcoming about that but that's at least one thing Google is good for.....


    There is a profound desire in all camps to find a way out of the current predicament beekeepers find themselves in which entails a perpetual arms race between the toxicity of treatment methods on the one hand, and the emergence of treatment resistance on the other...a problem amplified by lazy beekeepers who refuse to follow protocols designed to limit this. There is an understandable amount of "wishing for a miracle cure" out there......some way of producing better results without having to dose one's hive with toxic chemicals every season. Some hive manufacturers prey upon this laudable hope by marketing notions like "more natural" - which is true in some senses: feral bees do not build comb on pre-built and recycled foundation after all.....but it's a mistake to believe that just because a colony is building its own comb on top bars that the colony is not still 100% susceptible to each and every disease, pest, or problem out there.

    The sad truth is the genie is out of the bottle. Commercial beekeeping practices of the past (and present) have ensured the introduction and continued spread non-native diseases, pests, and parasites and there's simply no undoing that. Only three pathways are open now.

    1. Accept this is as the "new normal" and settle on a turnkey hive design and treatment regimen which, while wholly undesirable on some intuitive level, can and does keep affected colonies alive. Understand that the modern European honey bee has become something of a highly specialized livestock that is not well suited to its current environment and will perish if left to "nature" without persistent human care, intervention, and treatment.

    2. Accept this and choose an alternate hive design based upon other factors like cost, ease of use, ease of construction, personal preferences, or personal limitations etc and accept some creativity will be needed to adapt the turnkey treatment solutions to the design.

    2. Refuse to accept this and go one of two ways.
    A) Invest serious time and effort into highly specialized and labor intensive practices with the goal (but no guarantee) of promoting resistant "survivor" colonies. In essence, try to un-breed the current weaknesses out of Apis Meliflera while having no control over the "stock" they encounter outside your apiary. God love those dedicated enough to pursue this course as they may provide the only long term solution but their ultimate prospects for success remain deeply in doubt.
    B) Be a casual hobbyist, buy a hive of any kind, install some bees, avoid treatments, watch for a season....maybe two, get a bit of honey, then wonder what happened to your colony. Lather, rinse, repeat until you get tired of the process and quit, or accept options 1 or 2.

    It's simply where we are at now I'm afraid and no amount of wishful thinking changes it.

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