Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Southeastern Pennsylvania
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    7

    Question Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?

    I am interested in adding an observation hive this year and I really liked the concept of the Betterbee large observation hive (not enough of a wood worker to build it myself - lame, I know).
    https://www.betterbee.com/educationa...ation-hive.asp


    My question for the forum: Betterbee customer service told me by email that this hive accommodates five deeps only and (unlike the smaller one which fits 2 deeps or 3 mediums) for mediums I would have to accept gaps between frames. I wondered whether it would be an easy woodworking task to simply add the lips for mediums - but wasn't sure exactly how the frames are held up and if I am mistaken.

    Betterbee customer service told me that they need to check with their "Amish supplier" about this and that it could take weeks to hear back from them. Speaking of lame...

    Is this an easy change as I suspect?

    Appreciate any insights - thanks.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Farmington, MO, USA
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    157

    Default Re: Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?

    I have one of their small observation hives. It looks like they are built the same way. Mine has slots cut in the uprights for the frames ears to slide into. So, you would need to disassemble it and use a router or daddo blade to cut the slots at the proper spacing for medium frames.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?

    Thank you so much: Very helpful.
    I was hoping to get this very answer - I can definitely do the modification you described here.
    Looking forward to this! Really excited to add an observation hive and learn from that.

    Out of interest, ffrtsaxk: Are you able to establish a permanent colony in the smaller hive - ie overwinter them? And how often do you need to switch out a frame in the spring to prevent swarming - or do you last let them do their thing?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Farmington, MO, USA
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?

    I have overwintered them, but needed to modify it to do so. I removed the plexiglass from the entrance area and replaced it with screen so the cold air blowing in would be able to escape into the house instead of blowing into the hive. It's also a good idea to reduce the external entrance in the winter to limit the cold air coming in. If I put a frame of bees with a queen and about half a frame of capped brood, they will start building queen cells in about a month. I have been letting them produce the queen cells and then splitting and using the extra queens and cells. Be aware that the bee space is off and they will build bur comb and some of the queen cells will be destroyed when you open it up. But, it's fun. I have let them swarm on purpose a few times and been able to catch all of them so far. Since I know when they are going to swarm, I set up an extra hive body outside and get everything prepared in advance. Then I stand at the entrance and wait for the queen to come out then use a queen clip to catch her and put her in the prepared hive and add the swarming bees. My daughters watch from inside the house and have a blast.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Betterbee Large Observation Hive - suitable for medium frames?

    That is so cool! Reading about your experience here makes me excited to get one of these. My hope was that the larger hive - 5 deeps means 7 mediums plus a bit of space at the top or bottom, I guess- allows for a bit more time in between frame removals and/or swarm catching. And maybe increase the odds for successful overwintering?
    Frank Linton describes a "screened-in porch" made out of an IKEA pencil holder to tackle the problem with cold drafts you describe - fig 3.19 in his book "The Observation Hive". Sounds like a very good idea.

    As to the bee space, the website suggests that one side is one bee wide and the other side 2 bees wide to allow for queen cell building - not quite true, it seems? Michael Bush argued I think that only the Ulster hives from Brushy Mountain (and maybe Mann Lake?) got the bee space right - but I don't like the idea of having 80% of the activity hidden from view. I want a permanent observation hive - which is how I got to the Betterbee ones.

    Thanks again for the advice - I will order it shortly.

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