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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's an interesting idea that popped up in my Youtube recommendations:

Lightweight concrete hive bodies that are compatible with Langstroth frames.

These are cast using polystyrene bits, ash, perlite, vermiculite, or other kind of fillers in the concrete mix to reduce weight, reduce water retention in the porous concrete, and give the hive bodies some insulation properties.

Concrete of course doesn't need to be painted, and is water and UV resistant.

From Beegin in South Africa, who developed and sells the plastic moulds, and makes hive bodies themselves.


 

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As an ex South African, beekeepers are more concerned with the hives being stolen and veld fires. Concrete hives overcome these problems and will last a long time, and the highly defensive African bees add to the protection of the honey crop! Priceless!
 

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I saw that same video and all I could think about was would it work northern climates? I imagine it would be like an ice box for the bees. I don’t know the properties of cement... would it be hot in the summer and cold in winter?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
@Nicksotherhoney In the comments in the YT video, the inventor claims that the addition of filler such as perlite and vermiculite raises the insulation value of the concrete. Of course, the insulation R value will change, depending on how much of what type of filler is mixed in.

According to Beegin's materials study, on page 16, they considered "lightweight concrete" that they used to make the hive bodies as a 75% aggregate concrete mix. http://beegin.co.za/Beegin - Materials Research Study Summary.pdf

From some quick googling, the addition of perlite and vermiculite as aggregate in concrete makes what is called "lightweight insulating concrete"

According to this: How Concrete R-value, Density, and Strength Relate regular concrete weighs 150 pounds per cubic foot (pcf)

If we assume that the weight of perlite and vermiculite is negligible, then a concrete mix that is 75% aggregate will weigh slightly more than 150 pcf * 0.25 = 37.5 pcf. To simplify, let's round that up to 40 pcf.

If we make a graph using the chart of R-value by concrete density, then a lightweight insulating concrete of about 40 pcf should have an insulation value that is slightly above R 5.

This is a good insulation value when compared to wood, which has an R value of about 1.25.
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That is an interesting idea. I have made planters and even pavers for a long walkway out of a mix of concrete and paper pulp. They are very strong, surprisingly light weight, and have held up well since I made them 6 years ago. It can also be cut easily with a saw with a standard blade so it would be easy to trim up the edges on a table saw to ensure a nice straight, flat edge. I might have a new project to try.
 

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I have made planters and even pavers for a long walkway out of a mix of concrete and paper pulp.
I am guessing that you actually used 'cement' (manufactured as Portland cement, a powder), rather than 'concrete', mixed with that paper pulp. Concrete is typically a mixture with cement, sand, and coarse stone. The size of the stone used in concrete may vary of course, depending on the final use.
 

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One of my concerns would be cracking the boxes in transit. I am not sure how well they would go bouncing around on the back of a trailer.
I just had a wax dipper build out of 3mm stainless. It cost me $680 AUD and I can dip 3 boxes at a time.
So my dipper cost less then their boxes according to William.

My guess is that waxed boxes would have a similar live time as these concrete boxes.
And even if the timber ones don't last as long, lugging around an empty box weighing 23kg on its own would be a good excuse for me to stick with timber.

I suppose one needs to have a look at them and make a decision from there.
 

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Cement hive bodies were offered for sale in the U.S.A. in the 1920s, but they did not become popular. There must have been a reason, and that reason may still be valid. I have no idea what the reason was, all I know is that wooden boxes remained the industry standard. There is a saying, you can't argue with success.
 

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They might be OK for the bottom box for a backyard beek who doesn't move his hive and uses a single brood chamber. Supers can still be wood. I can't imagine them ever catching on though.
 

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I just had a wax dipper build out of 3mm stainless. It cost me $680 AUD and I can dip 3 boxes at a time.
So my dipper cost less then their boxes according to William.
IIRC that was for the small set of molds. Shipping costs for a concrete hive from Africa would be astronomical!
 
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