Greetings from the Black Hills, SD
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  1. #1
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    Default Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Hi Ya’ll!

    I grew up in central FL before it was cool, ~30ft above sea level, returned to Rapid City SD (the place of my birth) 30+ years ago and for the last 15 yrs+ have lived in the north-central Black Hills, ~5300’ above sea level. Last September I got chickens. (They are known as the gateway drug of livestock, I’m told.) In October I brought home three Scottish Highland heifers and we built a shed/barn for them. The next spring I picked up more layer chicks, 15 heritage turkey poults, and 25 broiler chicks at the post office. Picked up a few more at the farm store including a few broad-breasted poults and 4 Buff geese. A couple+ months ago I brought home a bull for my girls—I believe he has done his job. A month ago, a friend gave me 15 Sweetgrass poults. He also threw in a jar of his genuinely natural honey. I never knew I liked honey before—plus I want to grow food for my birds (and my people) and we’re short of pollinators around here—so now I need bees.

    Since I’m a little bit contrarian (or maybe weird, depending on your POV) I want to raise mite-resistant Russian bees in an alternative-type hive. I’ll have to get them by mail as I can’t travel (I’m a caregiver for my mom.) Right now I’m leaning toward a Warrč but I’m open to ideas. I’ve read a bit, but I have pretty much everything to learn before spring. Looking forward to reading all y’all’s wisdom!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Hi, and welcome from another country, another continent, and maybe even 'another world' ....

    Firstly, it's unlikely that anything you grow yourself will have any impact upon the bees you keep - they forage for several miles in all directions, which adds up to several thousands of acres - and many people (but not all) find that their bees tend to ignore plants which are close to home. Mine do.
    So - if would be handy for you to know 'what's out there' at various times of the season, but that's not essential if you're only keeping a few beehives. But - should you ever 'get the bug' and start keeping a lot of hives, then supplementary feeding may become necessary.

    Whoever the 'we' is in "I brought home three Scottish Highland heifers and we built a shed/barn for them." is handy at woodwork, then building your own hives will save you a lot of money - assuming of course that you can source suitable timber (lumber).

    I'm always a little fazed by statements such as "I want to raise mite-resistant Russian bees in an alternative-type hive." by someone who has never kept bees before, and would urge you to concentrate on simply keeping a couple of colonies of local bees alive for a year or two - even if you need to treat for mites - regardless of what kind of bee you favour - for that in itself will be a challenge, especially with the amount of livestock you've already accumulated. Ambitions can always follow on from there.

    It would be useful, I think, for you to describe the type of weather conditions you experience up there in the Black Hills, especially during Winter. I did once live on the side of a mountain, but it was only at 2000ft, and although we seldom saw much in the way of snow it was hellishly exposed - with a 180 degree panoramic view of the Atlantic - such that a Warre hive of any height wouldn't have survived very long up there (not that I kept bees at that time). But - if you should have a suitably sheltered spot, then the Warre Hive is simple and cheap to make.

    Keep the questions coming, there are people on this forum much closer to you than I, and who will be better placed to advise accordingly.
    'best
    LJ (currently positioned at around 6" above Sea Level on England's eastern coast - with not a single hill within sight )
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Hi Ya’ll!
    .......I want to raise mite-resistant Russian bees in an alternative-type hive. I’ll have to get them by mail as I can’t travel (I’m a caregiver for my mom.) Right now I’m leaning toward a Warrč but I’m open to ideas. I’ve read a bit, but I have pretty much everything to learn before spring. Looking forward to reading all y’all’s wisdom!
    Been in the Black Hills few times.
    Caster State Park is probably the most favorite destination (the bison scratched on our van as if on a bolder few times; those safaris are a must to do, expecialy for the kids).
    The rest follows (the dead presidents and all).
    One of the favorite vacation destinations (since we can just drive there - fam of 5, in a minivan).

    Look into Layens' style beekeeping (especially, with the Russian bees - these can get defensive at times - the deep horizontal equipment counters that well).
    That would be your "alternative-type" hive.
    I do these myself being in WI; these hives are well suited for cold climate.
    The only negative - can get heavy.
    BUT if the location is static and no need to move them - then "set it and forget it" and enjoy beekeeping.
    But, yes, like LJ said - check around for the local bees first and try those (some Carni-based bees are a good start if zero experience).
    Then you do as you feel.

    Read - http://horizontalhive.com/how-to-bui...arm-trap.shtml
    Then read BS; many details have been discussed here:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/for...tal-Hive-Forum
    Last edited by GregV; 10-02-2019 at 10:12 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Thanks for the advice and the welcome, Little John! The “we” is me and my DH. The carpenter is actually me—DH doesn’t care for that kind of thing but he’s willing to help me when he can. He’s had some health issues, so if it can be done by one, that’s usually my job. He operates the heavy equipment. I can but I don’t care for it.

    I’ve been reading Philip Chandler’s books—and Les Crowder. The top-bar hives and Russian bees seemed easier than doing things the more conventional way, from what they have to say. Of course they’re passionate about their methods and I may not find them as good as they do. I’m sure I could build either the Warrč or the hTBH without much trouble. Aside from the draw of novelty, I’m all in on easier since I’ll definitely be doing this with minimal help.

    We live in a draw. Most of our wind comes down from the north, but the worst (and more rare) winds are southern. I’m contemplating right now where I would put a hive or two... probably against the south wall of the house or the shop. Probably the shop.

    Unfortunately our big snow drifts end up against the south sides of the buildings—some trick of the wind. That would be okay at the house because the south ground level is protected by a deck above. It could be chilly in summer though, always being shaded. Besides, I’m thinking I may consider putting the bees inside the shop over winter. If I do that, I’ll definitely situate them to the south of the shop. The shop doesn’t get a lot of use in winter because we prefer not to heat it. I could put them in my smallest room there, and keep the temp at 40* Fahrenheit as I read that the Canadians do. I’m afraid even Russian bees might find our winters not to their liking. Some years are very mild, but lately the winters have been long, wet and cold. So yes, if the bees don’t have time to gather their winter stores, I am happy to feed them.

    Thanks again, I really do appreciate your generosity in sharing your wisdom.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Hi, Greg

    That’s so cool that you’ve been here before. My parents had a cabin in CSP. We kept it a long time, but the 99 year lease on the land was nearing its end so we sold it to the park concessionaire who (unlike us) could buy it and keep it. It’s close to Legion Lake. I suppose if you were ever looking for a rental near to the lake, you might end up there. We’re an hour and a half north of Custer, a few miles from Pactola Lake, on 12.5 acres surrounded by USFS. I am not fond of the USFS, but it’s nice to be out here even though they’ve so badly mismanaged the forests.

    I would go to Wisconsin and get my coveted Russian bees from a lady I found on the internet but I can’t leave home for long and she doesn’t ship. My mom has advanced Alzheimer’s and my DH isn’t physically able to move her around her rooms by himself. That’s one reason I finally got animals. I’ve always wanted to but didn’t want to be tied down, so... bottom line, I finally got my animals! As many as the land will comfortably hold and I can reasonably take care of. I need goats next, to eat the Canada thistles, but they need a lot of fencing in and I haven’t gotten to that yet.

    I am a little concerned about shipping bees, though. The more I read about that, the more I think you guys might be right. I found a place in KY (Kelly Bees) that will ship packages of pure Russian bees (which they assure me are a very gentle strain) but I’m on the outside edge of their safe shipping range and I’m afraid the package would be delayed and hurt the bees. I’d feel bad about that. It doesn’t seem right... what do you think?

    Thanks for your tip on the Layens! I’m going to look them up right away!

    Blessings, Cindy

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Hi, Greg
    .......I’m on the outside edge of their safe shipping range and I’m afraid the package would be delayed and hurt the bees. I’d feel bad about that. It doesn’t seem right... what do you think?

    Thanks for your tip on the Layens! I’m going to look them up right away!

    Blessings, Cindy
    I am not experienced in the bee package shipping OR package bee buying.
    Never bought or sold packages.
    I just caught my own bees and got few shipped queens.
    That's my experience.

    Yes, look up those Layens' webpages; there are building plans and maybe you can just make a couple of hives.
    But be warned, a couple of hives is never enough.
    You immediately should plan for at least a couple more (even if temp boxes from trash; you will need them).
    Good luck.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    I love them! They’re stable and solid and they look like a whimsical village on the hillside. I have a nice wooded slope that doesn’t drift up too much. This looks like just what I want. Plus it’ll be so much fun decorating them! I think I’m going to go ahead and order the book. It’s pricey but the reviews are good.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Welcome to Bee Source. Good advice above. Best of luck with your bees.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    I love them! They’re stable and solid and they look like a whimsical village on the hillside. I have a nice wooded slope that doesn’t drift up too much. This looks like just what I want. Plus it’ll be so much fun decorating them! I think I’m going to go ahead and order the book. It’s pricey but the reviews are good.
    I did not even bother with the book.
    All the ideas needed are on the web page.
    But a good paper book is always a pleasure to own and read, and requires no batteries (got those too!).

    Here are more links for you (about the same, really):
    https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/...-zm0z18aszsphe
    https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/...-zm0z18aszsphe

    One important detail - do consider your frame compatibility to the existing Langstroth frames up front.
    I would avoid using the Leo S. frame dimensions (thus creating the artificial issue for yourself later - the built-in incompatibility with Langstroth hives and a big headache going forward).
    This is the only one negative I can point out in his designs (but a very major one).
    Instead I would make this frame prototype (two Langstroth medium frames attached) and use it as the base dimension for your own frames, hives, and all the related wares made later (you will be only glad):


    I have discussed the same in details here:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...tal-deep-hives
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    Last edited by GregV; 10-04-2019 at 11:30 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Thanks, Greg! It looks like the hive is basically just a big box with thick walls. I’m thinking the R value might be better (and the hive lighter) if I framed the walls with 2x2 studs, insulated with rigid foam insulation and sheathed with 1/4” plywood. (Which takes little more than a chop saw and skill saw.) Plus I wouldn’t have to mess with those tongue and groove joints. I don’t have a router table. I could manage with the table saw, or biscuit join, or peg, but at present I have literally nowhere to set up my tools and the weather is going, well north, pretty quickly. We had no spring and now maybe no fall either. �� on the plus side, my greenhouse kit arrived this morning. �� When we get that set up, it may be a good place to work temporarily.

    If I were to frame, I might be tempted to use green treated because of the lumber available here, the green 2x2s are so nice, straight, strong. We don’t have a lot of lumberyard options. I worry though... they’d be completely covered, but maybe for a sensitive animal like a bee that would still be a bad idea...

    Your suggestions re using the Langstroth dimensions make a lot of sense. I can see that being a big advantage. Only would that make the hive smaller and potentially less thermally efficient?

    Got things I have to do, but I’m eager to check out your links ASAP. The jpg didn’t get posted somehow. I’m sure I can find a plan for a Lang frame somewhere, though.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Thanks, Greg! It looks like the hive is basically just a big box with thick walls. I’m thinking the R value might be better (and the hive lighter) if I framed the walls with 2x2 studs, insulated with rigid foam insulation and sheathed with 1/4” plywood. (Which takes little more than a chop saw and skill saw.) Plus I wouldn’t have to mess with those tongue and groove joints. I don’t have a router table. I could manage with the table saw, or biscuit join, or peg, but at present I have literally nowhere to set up my tools and the weather is going, well north, pretty quickly. We had no spring and now maybe no fall either. �� on the plus side, my greenhouse kit arrived this morning. �� When we get that set up, it may be a good place to work temporarily.

    If I were to frame, I might be tempted to use green treated because of the lumber available here, the green 2x2s are so nice, straight, strong. We don’t have a lot of lumberyard options. I worry though... they’d be completely covered, but maybe for a sensitive animal like a bee that would still be a bad idea...

    Your suggestions re using the Langstroth dimensions make a lot of sense. I can see that being a big advantage. Only would that make the hive smaller and potentially less thermally efficient?

    Got things I have to do, but I’m eager to check out your links ASAP. The jpg didn’t get posted somehow. I’m sure I can find a plan for a Lang frame somewhere, though.
    Thick sandwich walls are a good idea.
    I got one such hive - NOT much lighter if at all - BUT has the warmer walls for sure.
    I have been using the sandwich designs in my mobile hybrid hives as well (those thin Lang box wall are not good - I sandwiched them).
    For a static hive I say it is a good way (the green wood planks are a non-issue IMO - as long as you have them covered in).

    Your suggestions re using the Langstroth dimensions make a lot of sense. I can see that being a big advantage. Only would that make the hive smaller and potentially less thermally efficient?
    NOT really.
    Becoming the Lang compatible only makes the hive deeper by a couple of inches.
    Not smaller; not less thermally efficient.

    Look at his conversion project and ask yourself - why do this meaningless project?
    What is the point of it and why all this hassle?
    Sorry, this conversion makes no sense whatsoever to me.
    Just be compatible up front and don't bother.
    This project I mean:
    http://horizontalhive.com/how-to-bui...h-layens.shtml
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    I looked at all the plans he has up, but I didn’t study them all. Really nice of him to share so freely. I guess I didn’t understand this one, though, at the time. On examination it looks like the Lang frame is fitted into the adapter on its side. The deep Lang frame gets a 2x4 to make up the gap on one side. The narrower Lang frames are also put in sideways but two are hung side by side in the same adapter.

    They look like they’d be too wide to fit in right side up, and also too short to fill the space. I wonder if it would work to make the box wide enough to take a Lang frame right side up and just not worry that it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom? Or maybe add a length of 2x4 (or whatever is the right size) under the Lang frame to fill in the gap where it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom?
    Last edited by CindyinSD; 10-04-2019 at 04:07 PM.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Okay, never mind. I just read the thread you linked—now I understand what you were talking about. (Or I think I do...) Two medium-sized Lang frames on edge, connected together and fixed to a top bar... right? Or am I still not getting it?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    In the plans, the frames’ sidebars are shown as around 2” wide, then cut on each side to make them thinner. Is this important? ‘Cause it’s bound to add work/time. If it matters, fine, but If not...

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    I looked at all the plans he has up, but I didn’t study them all. Really nice of him to share so freely. I guess I didn’t understand this one, though, at the time. On examination it looks like the Lang frame is fitted into the adapter on its side. The deep Lang frame gets a 2x4 to make up the gap on one side. The narrower Lang frames are also put in sideways but two are hung side by side in the same adapter.

    They look like they’d be too wide to fit in right side up, and also too short to fill the space. I wonder if it would work to make the box wide enough to take a Lang frame right side up and just not worry that it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom? Or maybe add a length of 2x4 (or whatever is the right size) under the Lang frame to fill in the gap where it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom?
    Just setup your hives for this size from the very start - " two are hung side by side in the same adapter."
    And you are done.
    Forget those silly adapters.
    Cut the ears off.
    Zip the frames together (just like on his pictures).
    Screw in 15 inch long top bar (make them to sort of fit the width of the zipped together frames).
    Done.
    You will get something like this:




    Your hive will be a couple of inches deeper than his AND you will have complete compatibility to any Lang frames (important when buying nucs OR for free equipment reuse - my way).

    If want and have time, you can build proper frames too, of the same size described above, like so:


    The hive ideally should have some attic for more honey frames and/or insulation (you are in SD, not in southern MO):
    Like so:


    ALL you need to do - forget that conversion stuff.
    Leo himself did not think of it in time - then started his non-sense with the conversions confusing people, instead honestly saying he made a mistake - no one needs that hassle.
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    Last edited by GregV; 10-09-2019 at 11:05 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    Okay, never mind. I just read the thread you linked—now I understand what you were talking about. (Or I think I do...) Two medium-sized Lang frames on edge, connected together and fixed to a top bar... right? Or am I still not getting it?
    Yes.
    Exactly.
    You are getting it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    In the plans, the frames’ sidebars are shown as around 2” wide, then cut on each side to make them thinner. Is this important? ‘Cause it’s bound to add work/time. If it matters, fine, but If not...
    Not "around 2” wide" but 1 3/8 inch exactly (due to the Lang frame standards).
    You know, just use as-is.
    I spent too much time shaving them to 1 1/4 inch.
    In the end just busy work and not a show-stopper.
    But if you are a "perfectionista" - I'd say do shave to 1 1/4 (just a more natural approach, but debatable).
    Last edited by GregV; 10-09-2019 at 11:11 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by CindyinSD View Post
    ... take a Lang frame right side up and just not worry that it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom?...
    Btw, you can do this, but..
    You then just create a typical long Lang hive (not much "alternative" left in it, in my view).
    Also, a long shallow hive will be less optimal for climate in SD.
    At that rate just do vertical Langs then.

    If to go an "alternative" at your location, I say go deep and long hive; not shallow and long.
    I am plenty happy with my "longs".




    For the record, I consider constructing few modified Warre-format hives too (as another version of an ergonomic hive; compatible to my long hives).
    Not done yet to share much.
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    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Thanks, Greg! Very helpful. You make so much sense and leave me thinking, “Oh yeah... why didn’t I see that...?” Unfortunately I’m not able to view your photos for some reason I can’t figure out. I think I understand what you’re saying, though.

    I found this link: https://borrowedvesselsbeeworks.com/beehive/

    The hive in the link seems small (as in it’s shorter than I wanted on the horizontal length) but almost what I had in mind otherwise. I was just going to make a box within a box with rigid insulation sandwiched between the two boxes. Since I want to permanently install the hives on end-posts (set in the ground) and so don’t care so much about weight, I was thinking of using 3/4” exterior plywood and edge-fastening the boxes to avoid use of framing members that would transmit heat. (But maybe that won’t make a lot of difference?)

    I would insulate the lid similarly to the walls. And I’d like to add a peaked roof similar to Dr Leo’s plans. Along with all the advantages of a slippery slope to shed precipitation and a significant overhang, I think they look nice and I have left-over metal roofing anyway. Maybe it would be a good place to add ventilation outlets?

    In the hive on the link I gave, the guy lines his entrance holes with thin-wall pvc. (It seems like maybe they’re a little big?) I had been wondering whether it would be necessary to cover the insulation. It seems like a good idea, but maybe not needed? I saw your posts where you moved your wintering bees to the center of the box and draped the tops and end/backer boards with burlap. If they don’t mess with the burlap maybe the foam insulation isn’t gonna be a problem either. I don’t suppose it would be necessary to worry about them eating it or picking it apart as birds might do...

    Does this sound reasonable or am I overthinking?

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Greetings from the Black Hills, SD

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    .....
    I am plenty happy with my "longs".



    .
    Trying to re-post the pics.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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