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532 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone run the DE Hives produced and sold by The Bee Works of Orillia, Ontario??

They advocate running a three deep DE hive to build colonies while also preventing swarming, and thus maximizing honey yields. While running a couple side by side with conventional Langstroths would be interesting for me next season, I was curious to see if anyone has done exactly that, and what their experience has been.

Just for the record I am a hobbyist running around 20 hives.

6,558 Posts
I have been thru a few of the DE hives and they are nice to work since the ears of the frames are longer and the frame spacer collar fits so that bees do not get at the frame ears to propolize them. The also trap and starve what bees get shut in that area if the hive is really busy when closing up. It would be a beetle haven if you had that problem.

It is not a standard size frame or box so look for increased costs. I would say it wont do anything you cannot do with standard Lang equipment. The construction of the hive bodies is a a fair bit more complicated.

You may get some more recent opinions on this thread but if you do a search there was discussion about them here a year or so ago.

Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
54,120 Posts
Here's what I like about the DE hive:

o It has good, well thought out, ventilation (but you can use the Langstroth kit to provide this for your Langstroth hive or other methods to keep things simpler)

o It has the frames running so you can stand behind it to work it. (but you can get this in a Langstroth by using the kit or by making your own top and bottom and turning the hive)

o It has a system that almost eliminates having to break frames loose. This keeps the bees calmer, especially when working the brood chamber. (this you cannot get by using the Langstroth kit)

o It is nice dimensions from the bee's perspective. (except maybe frame spacing) It's a square box and has 11 frames that the queens fills out nicely. (this you cannot get from a standard Langstroth hive)

o The frame design is very light, very strong and very good at keeping the foundation straight in the frame. I wish I could get such well designed frames for a Langstroth. There is a slot in the sides to hold the edge of the foundation.

o The DE frames are really light to handle.

o The DE frames are dimensions such that you almost never have to use a capping scratcher.

o The long end bars are really nice for handling the frames, especially when you're extracting but also when you're working a hive.

What I don't like about the DE hive:

o My biggest irritation is that it is not a standard size. This is no end of frustration when you see something really useful, but it won't work with them. Like a nice triangular bee escape or a top feeder or a bound queen excluder. I get around it a lot by building things that are universal. e.g. a bottom board with 1 1/2" edges instead of 3/4" that is sized long enough for a Lang. I can put either a Langstroth or a DE on it. I built several adapters and often mix the DE supers and Langstroths. Also since it's not standard I can't buy stuff already assembled when I'm short of supers or hives and don't have time to build them.

o There's this space around the ends of the top bars, that the bees can't get to when the hive is closed. The purpose is to keep the bees from propolizing the ends of the bars. My problem with them is the bees run into them when I have the hive open and I can't get them out. Shades of the Arizona, they get trapped in there when I put the covers back on or a super on.

o I did have to modify my extractor to fit them. Maybe some wouldn't but the top part of the rack was spaced too far, so I had to get three threaded rods and replace the ones that came with the extractor. Now it works for either DE's or Langstroths.

o The long end bars (which are so nice to handle) stick down more so you can't have as much honey in the tank before they hit the honey and bog down the motor.

o It takes practice to not knock off the little plastic spacers on the ends of the bars when you're uncapping. It's kind of frustrating to be looking through a bunch of cappings for missing ones.

o I prefer a frame spacing of 1 1/4". The DE frames are 1 1/2". The brood comb is more uneven because of this and the cell sizes are larger.

As you can see there's more I like than don't, but the big problem is the non-standard size. I had four and some spare parts and sold them all. They were always productive (when they didn't die from Varroa...).
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