Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.
Well I think it was 38° overnight, and it is still windy as all-get-out and cold (North Carolina Cold ) so I am pretty sure no one is coming to visit today. Probably going to be similar all week, so I need to ignore them for a while and not let them drive me nuts.
But the wood shop is calling... still not sure which horizontal format to do.
Clearly, few practical questions need answers (which you kinda need to know after 5 years of doing this).
For example - your current traps are in Lang format.
Having all the equipment on hand it is reasonable to set it all out and use for trapping.
Next, it only makes sense to make it so that you easily transfer frames with a swarm from a trap into your horizontal hive.
So why create yourself unnecessary headaches and go for a "classic" KTBH so that even a trivial frame move between hives becomes a major project.
Both Lang and Layens style long hives support easy cross-hive frame transfers.
One should simply play forward several typical scenarios as you will move forward and see what horizontal hive layout will support those scenarios.
Anyway, you should know all of this. I don't need to be telling.
Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.
Hi for what its worth, I can relate. I liked the Dr Leo message as well, seemed a hard bloke to get on the phone or respond, (strike 1) I also signed up for the 1 week seminar, the cost, plus trip cost, plus hotel for the week had me cancel. I instead bough both books, worth the $ IMO. I am a Lang background person, So I built the Double deep lang in the plan section of one of Dr Leos books. I did winter Russians in it last winter it has the biggest bunch of bees this spring. I'll have 2 for this winter.
I did make it with 2x4 stud walls and 3.5 inch of insulation, but for me in Mich. it seemed to work. Since you have the lang stuff, they can be swarm traps, NUCs and starter hives. That way you can leverage from what you have.
I would think where you are 2x4 on the flat for a 1.5 cavity either stuffed with insulation or fitted with 1.5 inch foam board would be enough for the cold temps there. As well I made mine 4 foot long. the next ones will be 5 to 6 feet with a coloney in each end, or 3 foot long. 4 foot is a bit much for 1 and a bit slim for 2 colonies IMO.
Build if you enjoy it, but the bee keeping needs some attention, figure out what takes your bees out, queen failure, starve, mites, etc then work to fix that part. In what ever hive the keeping part needs be understood.
Soon I am taking the 30 frames of bees out of my long lang and making 6 NUCs, clean it out , reposition, firm up the base, and put a NUC back into each end a month later.
I have a bunch of 5 frame NUCs, a bunch of 8 Frame hives and a bunch of 10 Frame hives. All frames are interchangeable, normal deep frames from Dadant.
I have made almost all the bottoms tops and hive bodies.
Each hive size has pros and cons, mostly around portability and moving. The 5 frame easy to move, the long lang not moveable, so the whole spectrum.
Jump in build one, if you catch a swarm move it into the new hive for winter, see how it does. do read the treatment threads, and strive for improvement.
I do not go into a hive unless I have a need, some Hives that is 2 or 3 time a year, not sure under what scenario 1 time a week would be the need, queen less ness maybe. You mentioned box swap once in your "discussions" the Layens does not have box swap (top to bottom) so... is it necessary?? I was a proponent of brood nest integrity, prior to reading about the layens frame now even more. Waste of time for the bees to rearrange IMO.
stay on the trail
Yes, I have eliminated TBH from the running as it is way too different. There is something elegant to me about the Layens but for the life of me I can't put my finger on it. I really don't believe I will be happy with the Lazutin, or double deep long lang because, that just seems like a ****-awful lot of frame to manipulate at any one time. So between a 19 frame Laynes and a 26 frame single deep long Lang is where I am hanging. Although one other consideration was to make either one use some dimensions that would allow it to be supered by the 8 frame equipment. This was something I had not previously considered, but in the few examples I was shown, "seemed" really cool.
If I just stick with vertical stuff, I think I will be making a bunch of nucs and see if I can make some bees. But this is the fallback if I catch some bees before getting started on making horizontal equipment.
BTW, if anyone cares, this new UI sucks. At least in my opinion for whatever that's worth.
Box swap was relative to the Lang 2 deep brood chamber. Box swap being to bring the bees back to the bottom and the abandoned comb from the winter up on top of them. That made sense to me, but it never happened because by the time they should have been taking their cleansing flight, they were actually swarming. They had never moved up into the top deep, but instead had brought all the honey resources in and among it and what should have been an empty spring brood nest was honey bound. (A little soapy water at that point and I could have had a very interesting huge harvest, but I thought I could save the colony) We had a ridiculous winter, it snowed almost 1 whole day. I don't think it ever got so cold that the bees weren't flying and foraging all winter long. And people's annuals never died off, so I think they thought they were in FL instead of NC. So when they swarmed the first time, I was seriously caught off guard because it hadn't been above 50° enough that I felt comfortable going in. I did my level best to try to straighten them out, clear them some place for the new queen to lay. Moved the resources up, and the brood down and together, but they cast again before I would have even believed they should have hatched a queen, and about 3 days later they were getting robbed and I saw no sign of the previous colony, they must have just joined forces and went home with them. I missed some things, that I guess I should have caught, and perhaps with a few more years experience I would have known better. I meant I was looking forward to the box swap, but never got to that point before everything went to hell this season.
The description of the Layens spring inspection, sounds similar to the box swap in the moving to the other side, and replacing the old entrance end side comb, and so forth has a similar feel to the box swap. But I digress. I have said that I am the slayer of bees, but that is probably not fair. I am the propagator of likely many colonies somewhere other than in my hive I only actually killed them one year, and that was high mite counts and no treatment. So maybe they should have died. But between Formic Acid pads and Oxalic Acid vapors I kept they alive well enough to mostly cast and abscond.
Wow! The only difference btw your beek experience and mine is that when I decided to get into beekeeping and took the local county class, my takeaway was that there was a lot to know. I spent the next year reading anything I could get my hands on. I started with Christy Hemenway’s “The Thinking Beekeeper”. I liked her approach of actually “caring” about the little creatures. After reading a number of other books, I got my hands on Fedor Lazutin’s “Keeping Bees With a Smile”. Something about the mountains of research he did and the icons of the field he quoted couldn’t be ignored. After reading that I knew I didn’t want to use Langs. But with the local beek community, that left me on the inside looking out. No one shared my thoughts and ideas on it. No one.
I had to stumble my was through this. I guess I consider myself an “experimental” beekeeper at this point. The first year I kept bees I built a 2”-thick walled Lazutin hive as well as a double-walled TBH. I’m all ready to go and I email Dr. Leo with a few questions and he writes back and tells me the Lazutin hive was designed for Zone 4 in the Kaluga region of Russia and the kind of natural wilderness in that area was what made the bees bring in all that nectar and pollen and fill those hives. I live in Zone 5 in a thickly settled area. Oooops. Dr. Leo suggested I go with a Layens hive because it can be managed the same as a Lazutin but without all that interior space my bees would be hard-pressed to fill. What do they say? – All beekeeping is local! (NOTE: 1 package was very healthy, the other was very unhealthy). It wasn’t the hives that caused my 2 packages of bees to die out, it was the mites. First year on the books – no survivors.
Dr. Leo stressed in his email to me that I must work with local survivor stock. Our State is not known for its wilderness. So the next year I decide to set out traps and catch some bees. Second year on the books – the beekeeping year that wasn’t.
At this point I’m beginning to think I’ll never be able to keep bees. I succumbed to pressure to at least try a Lang hive. So I purchased a package of VSH bees. It started out well but the queen apparently was poorly mated and the hive never made it through the winter. Third year on the books – another lost hive.
The next year (2019) was a year to remember. I still had the Lang from the previous year and put a package of bees in it I got through the club. Three weeks later (mid-May) I get 4 swarm calls. I did have a few swarm boxes, but after the 3rd call, I passed it off to another beek. Now I’m overwhelmed! I scrambled to knock down the TBH and repurpose it into a 2” thick-walled horizontal hive BUT decided to make it 14” deep. Remember what Lazutin said that bees build from the top down but overwinter from the bottom up – I wanted to give them more running room for those cold winter days. Then I decided to try a truncated Lazutin hive (why not?). I built a 2” thick walled 10-frame Lang hive that would house 18” deep Lang frames (2 deeps zip-tied together). I sat it on top of a standard medium Lang body and used it as a German Bottom Box. Reason: Those bottom boards are an open invitation for bugs, rain, etc. The bees have to travel to get to their inner sanctum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OheDOkQi7G8
Then I purchased a 5-frame nuc box to see if I could overwinter bees in it. It was interesting to see how well the swarm bees did compared to the package bees. They out-performed them on every level. Dr. Leo was right. I invested in an OA vaporizer – because the mites from the package bees were off the charts. I treated all hives once a week for 8 weeks in a row to get them under control. I went into winter with 4 hives. Fourth year on the books – all 4 colonies survived!
(NOTE: I didn’t expect the package bees to survive – still shocked about that)
I want to build a Layens hive but don’t like the idea of a narrower frame length. I’m thinking of building another HH but with the same depth as a Layens. Just zip tie a deep and a medium together to give you a Layen’s depth with a Lang length. Now your frames are all standard and interchangeable. I believe if you live in an area with snowy, icy cold winters – depth of hive is extremely important. Giving the bees a depth of honeycomb they can work their way up throughout the winter without having to cross open space is huge. I want to revamp my Lazutin hive. I can always use a divider board and put two colonies in it.
Yes I have seen the local stock "seems" to be better acclimated.
IMO here is what happens , one orders bees, some swarm, any that make the winter in a tree or wall, are some what acclimated, these first year survivors (10%) cross and a second generation is swarmed out (30%) maybe survive, etc until there is a bee that can deal with the local conditions.
So I put all my dead outs out a swarm traps, the "early" ones are not from packages, they are either someones hive swarming or a feral swarm.
These early swarm can be "winter tested" then do splits from the best of the best.
I read a book from the early 1900s stating bees travel up the comb 1mm per day in cold weather, for me here in Mich that is 18-22 inches, I add/nadir a medium under my hive in the fall for an igloo effect and that seems to work. I actually put medium frames in a deep, to also have a 3 inch air space at the bottom. (I use the wet medium frames post extraction)
For you it is what ever you find works.
And yes the mite thingy cancels every thing IMO your OA VAp is going to help knock down the mite so you can have healthy winter bees hatch out in the fall. If they cannot fly and are crawlers they do not shivver well either.
The first 2 swarms I caught were from a feral colony that had been living in an old oak tree and had built up quite a colony. How many years they were there, I don't know. But they sure hit-the-ground-running when hived. The third swarm was about 5lbs - so couldn't have been someone's mismanaged first-year package. A few miles from it was a queen-rearing apiary so it likely came from there. There are some package suppliers who put quality first, but too many don't.
Classes have a purpose but they're not a panacea for what's needed to successfully keep bees. Someone did a SARS study out of VA stating that 80% of package bees (from the south) fail. That's a staggering number. I offered a team beekeeping group last year for people graduating the county class to try to help those who don't know what live bees in a hive looks like. It was a great experience for everyone who participated because like you said, "Hands on is better". I think first year beeks should work as a team in small groups: share the bees, the hive, the hive management, etc. It keeps costs down and gives them the "hands on" no class can teach.
the group experience is a great idea, many newbies do not know other newbies, could offer a sign up area. Could even do it at your place in small groups. 12 newbies, 3 or 4 packages, or 2 packages and 2 NUCs, class nite in groups of 3, offer if they can get them thru the first winter, then they get a split the next spring for extra credit.
If it wasn't for my day job and the farm I have for weekends, these ideas could have legs.....
So.... My backyard being hillside, unstacking, stacking and packing around Lang supers and gear gets old in a hurry, as well as insulating and uninsulating, and having 60,000 raging bees roaring around every inspection or treatment. That's why I made some horizontals. All are 3/8 ply with 1.5" styrofoam sandwiched. Foam bottoms, and insulated tops/roof/lid. You get it, fully insulated. A couple divider boards, one insulated.
First one is simple, 32 deep frames long, board covers.
Second one got a bit fancier. I wanted more capacity, so I made it to take med supers on top, and still able to close the lid. It holds 32 deep frames long, and two med supers as well.
The third, I went a bit far, I think. A double deep, 52 deep frames.
They're sooooo much easier to deal with the bees. All three are splits from my normal Lang hives, with new queens, but the bees are so calm, and easy to deal with frame by frame instead of removing a top, an inner cover, then a super, and another super, then digging around while 10,000 foragers are confused that their entrance has vanished...
I can leave stuff in each hive under the lid. A tool, note pad, queen grabber, spare frames, bundle of zip ties. Stuff I don't have to remember to carry around in my pockets. Having a nice big platform to work on, set tools, a camera, a pulled out frames, way nicer to work on.
My preference is to dribble OA, or use mite away, and will soon try Hop Guard strips. Having only one level to deal with is nice. Exposing only a few bees at a time, and the lids tip up from behind so the foragers just continue to use the normal entrances, makes for no defensiveness or confusion. Haven't used a smoker at all on them. Another thing I don't have to pack around!
Strategy for honey harvest...I placed the hives where I can drive up to them in my tractor. Will make 30 frame holding box for the bucket, arrange the frames I want to take, apply fume board, remove, take frames, replace with empty frames, drive away. No intention of lifting more than one frame in each hand.
Might not be suitable for a commercial operation, but for the casual beekeeper, that only has a few hives to manage, I don't think you can beat the convenience of a horizontal.
So far, I like the second design the best.
Last edited by Cariboospeed; 05-23-2020 at 01:00 AM.