Thinking About Long Langstroth
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  1. #1

    Default Thinking About Long Langstroth

    My daughter and her husband have purchased 10 acres of land with 800' of riverfront footage. When the bought the land, the first question to me from my daughter was, "Daddy, will you put in a beehive on our new land?" Never wanting to disappoint her, I said that I would be happy to do that. Now I have to learn how to keep bees.

    I've looked at standard Langs, top bar, and long Langs. I think I've decided on a long Langstroth. My logic is that, at 68 years old, it will be easier to work and will allow me to teach my grand-daughters about beekeeping.

    I have looked at several designs for the hive and want your suggestions about my idea. I want to build a standard Lang deep hive body but instead of having it be 8 frames deep
    x 4 supers tall, make it 32 frames deep. My plan is to make the specialized hive box as one piece and use three standard bottoms and inner covers. I'm still working on an outer cover and can't decide between a standard flat outer cover and a gable style roof.

    Any thoughts or ideas will be appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    OK, you asked for "thoughts", so here are mine.

    And even though I have a moderator tag under my memberID, that hat is "off" currently.


    I know this is the TB & HH forum, but in the long run I think you will be better served by a standard 10 frame Lang hive.

    Consider that typically a 10 frame Lang isn't likely to have more than 2 boxes of brood, so you won't have to remove more than one box to work the lower brood box. And typically you never need to lift the lower box. If weight is an issue, rather than lifting the whole box, keep a spare empty available, and transfer a few frames at a time into that temporarily. Honey [harvest] boxes are only in place for a relatively short time, and you may not actually need to remove them except for harvest.

    Once you are in a standard lang, then all the commercially available accessories, like queen excluder, feeders, covers, etc all fit pretty much automatically. With a long lang, how were you thinking of utilizing a feeder? Yes it can be done, but its a kludge. And please don't think that an entrance feeder (AKA Boardman feeder) is a good plan, as its not [not with ANY kind of hive].

    As a new beekeeper, and particularly with your grand-daughters, there is a lot to learn. Advice from "most places" will be with the assumption that a Lang hive is in play. So most videos aren't going to "show" you what to do as your hive doesn't match. Can you adapt, yes of course. But how well will the younger ones adapt?


    OK, now I'm taking cover!


    And I'm expecting LJ to be along in a while to present a different view.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Three standard bottoms will be too large an opening for the bees to defend and will cause the hive body to be about three inches wider than than the typical Langstroth space for thirty-two frames (which is, of course, not a large problem if you use a follower board or add more frames). You will want to have at least two hives so that you can share resources when inevitable problems arise.

    As to gabled versus flat roof, I think that gabled is a little more attractive in a well maintained garden area, but may not blend in quite as well as a simple flat roof in a more remote natural setting. At least that’s what I think today. A top bar hive with flat roof with a hammered metal design can hold moisture. (Don’t ask how I know this.)

    I have used a long box hive and a top bar hive. I got rid of them. I use all eight frame medium Langstroth boxes. I’m sure some folks prefer top bars and long Langstroths, but I don’t. They are awkward to move around. Bees can get separated from the stores in winter. The footprint is too large for me. That’s not such a problem with one hive on ten acres, but goals and methods can evolve, and Langstroth stacks are adaptable to scaling up or moving to other locations. I hope that you and your family enjoy whatever hive design you decide to use.
    David Matlock

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    And I'm expecting LJ to be along in a while to present a different view.
    Sure ...

    There was a point in beekeeping history, some 20-30 years after Langstroth was granted a Patent for his hanging-frame hive, when several prominent beekeepers adopted what was to become known as the 'Long Hive'. Claims made at the time were that this design was superior to the Langstroth 'contractable' vertical beehive in several respects: it was more easily managed - in that frames could be removed without the lifting of any boxes - but more importantly from a commercial point-of-view, this ease of management resulted in an essentially 'non-swarming' beehive, which resulted in much larger colonies being developed within them, and which in turn produced much larger yields of surplus honey.

    I've been researching this area of historical beekeeping over the winter, and the popularity of the Langstroth Hive, and the derision shown towards Adair's 'Long Idea Hive' (which never was 'The Idea' itself), resulted from huge misunderstandings which I plan to publish (in some form) in due course. Suffice it to say for now, that the potential of the Horizontal Hive has been completely misrepresented over the years.

    Sometime around 1882, A.I Root - the foremost manufacturer of conventional Langstroth hives - who had been initially dismissive of such thinking, became so convinced that this design was superior for the production of extracted honey that he even went so far as to propose that it should become THE standard hive, holding 20 Adair frames (12" x 10" deep). to be adopted throughout the North American continent, and in due course, the world.
    Even Langstroth himself (who was previously an advocate of the 9" deep frame with a 19" top bar which has remained in use right up until the present day, had some years earlier proposed to Root a change to a narrower and deeper format: 12-14 inches long, with a depth of 12-13 inches.

    But, partly due to one of the misunderstandings I referred to earlier, and partly due to the financial inducements which the Langstroth Hive offered to agents marketing that hive - and which would have been completely absent with this new design of beehive - the Langstroth Hive, or more correctly the Langstroth-Root or Langstroth-Root-Heddon Hives were to dominate beekeeping over the next century or so.


    So much for history. Are Long Hives any good ? I think they're great, and use both horizontal and vertical beehives in my apiary - I much prefer vertical hives for queen-rearing, but for ease of week-to-week management give me a framed Long Hive any day.

    Is the Langstroth frame best suited for use in a Long Hive ? In my opinion, such a frame is a compromise - it's to be preferred in view of it's interchangeability with other hives, but is not the best shape: shorter and deeper would be much better.

    But - if it's the Langstroth frame or nothing, then let it be a Deep frame, to be used in conjunction with a Divider or 'Follower' Board in order to reduce the cavity size whenever this is required, for only a space of 10 frames or less will ever be needed for over-wintering.
    'best,
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    I am enjoying my "double-side" Long Lang for honey production (I run mostly topbar hives). The bottom box is a custom made one that fits 17 deep frames. It was designed to allow 2-eight frame honey supers to fit side by side on the top, and you can stack as many as needed, however in my area, 4 is probably all I will need for a season, unless I moved it near a cotton flow in the summer.

    As of April 2, the overwintered queen had filled up all 17 deep frames with brood and had moved up into a couple of the medium frames. In two weeks when all that brood emerges, its going to be a powerhouse, so the queen was removed to a nuc that day so they don't swarm on me. I'll go back in in a few days to remove other frames with nice queen cells and put them in mating nucs, but let the majority of the brood frames stay in there.

    For the winter, in coastal Virginia, the box overwinters with just the bottom brood box. The capped honey stores are moved down in there and any empty brood frames are saved until the following spring.

    dw with supers.jpg

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    It would help if you put your location in your header. Many people feel that vertical hives have an advantage for winter survival in colder climates. If you decide to go the long hive route using the system you describe with standard lang frames, individual bottoms and inner covers, etc., it would at least be easy to move to individual 8 or 10 frame boxes if you should decide differently.

    I am coming up against the weight issue too but the advice about not needing to lift a full box is spot on. Take advantage of Rev. Langstroths removable frame idea! ;Divide and conquer.

    I think the colonies in individual Lang boxes gives more flexibility plus equipment of every description is "off the shelf" available and saleable.
    Frank

  8. #7

    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    First, to make things easier, I am located in the piedmont area of North Carolina and the hive(s) will be located just north of Durham, NC, USDA zone 7b.

    Thanks for your thoughts, comments, and advice. Y’all have given me much to think about. Based on the general tone of the conversation, I am going to give serious thought to using a standard, vertical, 8-frame Langstroth. Let me talk about a few of your comments. Sorry, I tend to ramble when I write.

    As a new beekeeper, and particularly with your grand-daughters, there is a lot to learn. Advice from "most places" will be with the assumption that a Lang hive is in play.

    The comment about finding advice from “most places” is well taken. I’ve been reading through “The Hive and the Honey Bee” (Dadant) as well as other information that I consider reliable and have learned quite a bit. My daughter and I were going to take a beekeeping course this month but it has been cancelled because of COVID-19. Right now I’m taking an on-line course through NC State University. Seems to be pretty good information.

    Three standard bottoms will be too large an opening for the bees to defend

    True. I thought about that when designing the hive. My design modifies the bottom boards to be completely enclosed with an entrance on the end of the hive.

    Is the Langstroth frame best suited for use in a Long Hive ? In my opinion, such a frame is a compromise - it's to be preferred in view of it's interchangeability with other hives, but is not the best shape: shorter and deeper would be much better.”

    I have read quite a bit about deeper, narrower frames and that seems like a good thing that I may look at as I get some experience. Right now, I’m going to stick with deep Langstroth frames. Of course, that begs the question, do I use all deeps or 2 deeps for brood and mediums for honey?

    One comment about working with the grand-kids struck a chord with me. A standard, vertical hive may be the best teaching tool because of the standardization. The kids are pretty bright and learn quickly. It may be best to start them with standard practices and let them move to other methods as they develop in the craft.

    Again, thanks … now I’m off to think some more.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Hi Sisko,
    Have a look at "Keeping bees with a Smile" the Book by Leo S. I have seen online parts of the book with plans for long hive and double deep long hive in his books.
    You did not add your location, In the bottom half of the US you can likely get away with a long Hive.
    IMO in the north the bees will not move Sideways as easy and may starve out.

    If you plan to build the "box" then also build the top and bottom. It would be Illogical to create a box to match "bought" bottoms and tops.
    If you are "mature" like myself, consider the 8 frame box, 20 percent lighter.
    Also If you make a nice base, (gravel) the hive does not need to be moved, only the honey, I have found Using NUCs (5 frame box) Ideal for carrying honey, or a 1/2 full box.
    So make a few extras and split the loads as needed.

    IMO for the first timer Start with "traditional/local" Wooden Ware until you can keep bees then think about the Off shoot hives.
    OR tell your daughter , yes great idea go for it, and let her drive the deal.

    Welcome and good luck
    GG

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    If one is to stick to "standard Lang" frame, I would instead run at least a Dadant frame deep.
    This is essentially done by two standard Lang medium frames stapled/strapped together into a single unit - no need to pursue/make the Dadant frames proper.

    A single Lang frame in horizontal battery is too shallow for wintering in most northern locations US, for sure in my location (granted the OP did not show his location).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Sure ...
    ..... but for ease of week-to-week management give me a framed Long Hive any day.
    ......
    LJ
    +1
    If not for my needs to be mobile and some other pursuits, I'd stick to the large long hives - beekeeper ergonomy is superb in the static apiary setting.

    There is nothing to be afraid of in the long hives.
    In fact, in Russia/Ukraine the long hives are the default equipment recommended for the new beeks as the most forgiving configuration.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    I started this long lang last year from a smallish swarm. (it's actually a double hive...I just have one side occupied at present). I used a pre-made box that my son picked up at an auction. You'll see from the photos that I have plexiglass for an inner cover. It allows limited inspections without actually opening the hive. Last winter I added insulation between the inner cover & the lid. You can PM me if you want more info.

    I can remove sections of inner cover to inspect only the part of the colony that I wish to see without disturbing the whole colony.
    IMG_0525.JPGIMG_0521.JPG

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    Bees can get separated from the stores in winter.
    A typical problem with long/shallow designs in colder regions (less so in the south).
    A long hive should have enough depths to it - which a single Lang frame depth does not offer.

    PS: OK, this is NC then - might get away with a single deep Lang row then - mild enough.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    I was just thinking about making a long queen castle hive
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper 2nd yr 15 hives
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Greg when you say a single lang frame isn't deep enough are you referring to a traditional deep frame and suggesting you would have to go to a dadant deep to make it work in colder temps , just wondering as I always thought this would make a nice project and frame inspection would be easy , I'm in northeast Pa. and was hoping i could get away with regular deep frames

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Quote Originally Posted by laketrout View Post
    Greg when you say a single lang frame isn't deep enough are you referring to a traditional deep frame and suggesting you would have to go to a dadant deep to make it work in colder temps ........
    Yes.
    With single Lang deep, your bees will have to continuously be moving side-ways - frame over frame over frame.
    Not the best setup in PA if they get caught in place during a cold snap.
    At least with the Dadant depths, there will be some over-the-head honey.
    Two medium Lang frames, connected together will give you a single ad-hoc Dadant frame, if in a pinch.

    One possibility I was thinking to pursue was double-lang-deeps (stapled into a single frame) or triple-lang-mediums (stapled in to a single frame).
    For a static apiary I'd totally do these, essentially a Lazutin size.

    But I am not static - such monster deep long hives would be unmovable - a no-go in my situation.
    I must be able to move hives.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    The dadant deep frames and foundation are not as easily purchased. I have several ready to put bees in but I have built the frames and boxes myself and cobbled up foundation. The extra deep frames when full, take more strength and control to avoid smushing queens, than the regular deep frame and box. Management is different enough that advice might not be as available as it would for the most popular deep and medium frames in 8 and 10 frame boxes.

    Gray Goose quote; "IMO for the first timer Start with "traditional/local" Wooden Ware until you can keep bees then think about the Off shoot hives."
    Frank

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    I built two long hives last year. One was for a buster hive with brood in three deeps. They were so hot that they didn't get much attention. I moved them into a long hive with standard deeps and a gable roof. I put chest hinges on the roof instead of a chain. I used 10 frame inner covers with screen over the holes instead of all the little strips of wood. The hive calmed down quite a bit and it was a joy to work it. Unfortunately, it absconded late last fall, even though I had it checker boarded. I was treating them with Formic Pro at the time, so maybe they didn't appreciate it. I built it in such a way that I could use a regular entrance reducer so I could used my Might Mite Killer on them as well as on my regular hives.

    The second long hive was modeled from a European design, with 1 1/2" insulation built into the walls. I bought a Buckfast queen and put a split in it. They went into winter with 12 frames and I gave them pollen and sugar on top of the frames. When I checked on Wednesday, they only had two frames of brood, but the queen was there working. There was still plenty of honey and pollen available.

    I'm selling my 10 frame hives little by little. I'm going to try the 5 frame boxes again. The trick is to check them often. You have to keep them from filling the bottom box. Always keep an empty frame there or they will swarm out. Check out Joe May's channel, "Little Bits of Honey," on YouTube. He has all 5 frame and 8 frame hives. I'll keep my two long hives and keep experimenting. I'm in north central IN and it's plenty cold here. Oh, and I'm 64, so hefting heavy supers of honey isn't as fun as it used to be. You can take them out one by one and deposit them in an empty super, but there will come a time when you'll grab a full super even so. With the long hives, you have more leeway on checking the hives than the five frames.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    There is a compromise of course ...

    If a brood box was made around (say) 27 inches long, that will hold some 16-17 (needs checking) frames which could be deep or even extra-deep (location-dependent). That length would then support three 5-frame nuc boxes of whatever depth you prefer, acting as honey-supers - that set-up could provide the best of both worlds (perhaps ?) in that you have a large, deep brood chamber of which the size is still fairly easily portable, containing large frames which would not be found to be excessively heavy during inspections - with the honey-supers also not becoming over-heavy when compared with full-width supers.

    For over-wintering in such a hive, the supers would be removed, the brood frame-count would be reduced to 9 or 10 perhaps, centralised, with divider boards to either side and packing inserted inside the voids thus created, in a manner similar to that which the Russians/Ukrainians employ and which Greg has written about on several occasions.

    Although less portable, in a particularly melliferous location, the brood box length could be increased to around 36 inches in order to support four 5-frame nuc boxes. Hey presto - a Dartington Hive.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    L_J;

    That sounds like a workable compromise. One thing about the long hive concept that I forsee as a negative is having to work from the ends of the frames. Now you being close to a foot taller than I am gives a different prospect to this I am sure. I find it much harder to pull or replace frames without dragging the sides when the length of the frame projects away from me rather than being equally visible left and right. If you climate invites the inclusion of permanent insulation this adds to the distancing.

    If there is need to use deeper frames this would compound the difficulty of working the long hive configuration.

    There certainly are ways to use dividers to have different conditions in separate compartments or even multiple queens etc., but having worked a bit on two queens in the same stack I find that keeping things separate is a bit of an impediment. I find two separate entities is easier in this respect.

    From the original posters position, or if I was to mentor someone I think the standard vertical Langs or in your land the British National box would be less hassle.
    Frank

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Thinking About Long Langstroth

    Frank - you are SO right - and I apologise profusely to anyone who I may have misled in this regard. Most of my Long Hives are in the range of 29-32 inches (I do have a couple shorter, but much deeper) and yes - I work them all from the back, or from one back corner.
    I did have a Dual (divided) 4-foot Deep Long Hive for a year or three, but ended up cutting it in half mainly because it was a pain in the butt to move for maintenance. That, and I decided to move to a 'one colony in one hive' approach. But yes - when it was a 4-footer, I did work that one from the side, and it was a very awkward posture. Pulling frames might be easier with a 'frame-grabber' - I keep meaning to buy one: about $5 (in s/s) ex-China - where else ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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