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So I'm a new beek and this seems like it might be interesting, but clear something up for me. Bees don't naturally "build up". They build down. They want to start at the top of whatever space they're given and build down until they can go no furthur. If you find natural bees in a large cavity, they'll have big sheets of comb hanging straight down from the ceiling, they started at the top and built down. The only reason beeks claim they build upward is that we add the extra space for them on the top of our hives because it's convenient for us, not because that's what they do, correct?

Also, and remember I'm new at this so take nothing I say without two grains of salt, the remark on the website about overwintering is that each box is smaller and therefore easier for the bees to warm. You'd need the hive to be twice the height though to have the same amount of winter stores, right? I have 22' high ceilings in my living room. I'd personally rather have a wide room with 8' ceilings than a 16' tall skinny room with the same amount of heat...unless I have a ceiling fan :) But that's just me.
 

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I've started building my own boxes. I have built 3 and 5 frame boxes. This way I can put my swarms in a proper size box. I've found they better keep control over what comes into hive. I.E. small hive beetle's and wax moths.
 

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The honey bees' preferred habitat is a hollow tree with the same approximate shape and volume as two 5-gallon buckets stacked atop each other. The smaller, taller idea makes sense on many levels.
 

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From what I've been reading about biodynamic beekeeping, the long comb design (built down) is the bee's natural preference. I've seen pix of German hives that use this design.

The problem is that here in the good ol' US of A, hives have to be readily available for inspection. Thus the Top Bar compromise. It would be entirely possible to build a TB hive 4 feet deep, but it would be a bear to lift out comb that long and keep it intact.
 

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A good wind storm and that hive would probably land on it's side. I 've had 4 five frame nuc boxes stacked up and they blew over in heavy wind. With hives like the one in that website you would need to place them close together in order to prevent blow overs.
 

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With all the hive designs in the late 1800's, there is a reason why the (now) standard 10-frame Langstroth hive triumphed over all other designs. It is a compromise that seeks to give the best possible environment to the bees while getting the best from them. With the additional benefit that each frame can be inspected for disease and other problems. If you want a smaller population that tends to swarm, go with a narrow tall hive. You'll reach the "law of diminishing returns" the taller you go, with the additional danger of toppling.

For instance, those who advocate 8-frame mediums for the brood nest, acknowledge and encourage the use of three, if not four or five boxes for the brood nest, to give enough room for stores and the bee population necessary to produce surplus honey.

Even us sideliners and backlotters like to get a honey harvest. You need bees to do that. Right now my best producers are 10-frame, two story, wall to wall bees in the brood nest, and they're packing the honey flow in. My best one is working a medium and two deeps as a brood nest, with another deep and shallow filled with honey, and another shallow being drawn and filling.

The comment made that in nature bees start at the top and work down building comb is correct, but not the whole story. Once the comb is built, they have a natural up/down rhythm on the comb during the season. The stored honey up top forces the brood nest down in spring and summer. In fall/winter the brood nest is at or near the bottom of the comb, then during winter they eat their way back up as the cluster consumes the stores. It is easier and safer for the cluster to move up, than it is to move side to side. Finally as the honey flow starts, they're once again at the top, and hopefully have filled every comb with brood, to give more bees to collect more honey (that's why we try to prevent swarming, to maintain huge colony populations for nectar gathering).

This same process holds true in our managed hives, except we keep adding space at the top in the spring, to encourage them to store more honey, which we collect as "rent". :D

That's a bit of an oversimplification, but it gives you an idea of the process. Five frame hives are perfect for nucs, but I seriously doubt if they'd make a "production colony."
Regards,
Steven
 

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rant/

With all the hive designs in the late 1800's, there is a reason why the (now) standard 10-frame Langstroth hive triumphed over all other designs.
Yes, it's because they were dirt-cheap (in North America) compared to other patent-hives of the day. Reasons for this are numerous and cascaded with time. Suffice to say the history of the dominance of the ten-frame Langstroth hive is fraught with poor compromises, almost entirely made to keep initial purchase price low, wasn't a certainty in North America even as recently as 60 years ago, and still is not a certainty in the rest of the world. Read Quinby, Dadant and pre-WWII issues of Gleanings and ABJ to learn more.

/rant

Back on topic:

...and all that said, you will not find any authority within 200+ years who says five combs in width is sufficient without those combs being REALLY long both vertically and horizontally. If you insist on five frame beekeeping, you might consider running a two-queen setup of paired side-by-side colonies under shared 11-frame Dadant supers (called, in North America, "medium"). Side-by-side, they have about the same footprint as ten-frame boxes and two colonies working the same supers store more honey. You'll need to give each colony three or more five-frame brood boxes, though, in order to not overcrowd and cause swarming or abandonment.
 

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Pardon me, but I do not understand the reason for the /rant/... as I said in my second sentence, the 10-frame Langstroth was a compromise. And thank you for going on to make my point.
Regards,
Steven
 
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