Just curious if anyone has the horizontal hives in the colder climates. I made mine using 2" pine but have not put it into action yet. Wondering if it will need extra insulation.... I am in the Cleveland Ohio area.
I find it curious that most of us (me included) tend to think only in terms of horizontal OR vertical beehives - whereas in practice every horizontal hive has a vertical component and vice-versa.
This becomes much clearer when deep chest hives are examined, which are neither horizontal or vertical - but somewhere in-between. And of course it's precisely this type of hive which used to be (maybe still is ?) very common in Scandinavian countries where winters can be very harsh indeed.
As far as I'm aware, these hives tend to be short(ish) Long Hives, invariably have deep frames, and with bags of insulation. Search terms like 'trough hive' and 'trogbeute' come to mind.
If Greg is reading this, then he's the guy to supply umpteen links to the Russian/Ukrainian equivalent of this type of hive, which is very popular in that part of the world.
I have used long hives with and without frames (so top bar, in that case) in Northeast Ohio. A few stories at chickabuzz.com if you like...
They can survive fine if the varroa mites are successfully controlled. I did this by building the hives with 1) a solid floor, then using a 1" hole saw to make a hole, then treating with an Oxalic Acid Vaporizer pressed up to the hole, or 2) using a hive with a mesh floor below the front 8 frames/bars, and putting the vaporizer below that.
With frames, Apivar should work fine. There are a handful of beeks with long hives nearby who used Apivar. The oxalic acid dribble method should work fine too.
The cold does not kill bees, provided they have a good windbreak and no large cracks in their hive. Many beekeepers use no insulation for their double deeps or nucs, which are 5 frame boxes stacked 3 high.
The bees do use the space a bit differently compared to a "tall tree" hive - the Langstroth double-deep system. They consistently keep their brood by the entrance (3 holes, a bit bigger than a wine cork, at one end of the hive), and then at comb 13 or 14 they might have drone brood, and it's all honey after that. They also put honey at the top of each comb with brood, a bit more than if it was a stacked double-deep system.
I have Dadant deeps too - and have used just single deeps for a couple months - and in those cases, the bees treat the space more like a horizontal hive with fewer combs. Very common with the single deep to see all 3 stages of brood - eggs, larvae, and capped brood - on 5 or more combs.
With the long hive, the queen seems to lay in a zone for a few days, then move over a comb or too, work that area, move over a comb or two... then go back to the start once that brood has emerged. So a queen which is laying well produces mostly similar-aged brood on a given comb. So maybe 2 combs have eggs and larvae or eggs and capped brood, and 2 more have capped brood and larvae, and then there should be 4 or 6 with mainly capped brood. For deep frames.
For long hive with frames construction, 2 things to take care with: what kind of above-hive cover you will use, and how much clearance there is below the frames (and above the frames).
I measured the Langstroth box and used that dimension as the height of the long hive. Oops! It was about 1/8" too short, sometimes - because when a Langstroth deep box is in use, it is set upon a base that gives the frames another 1/2" clearance. So, the best dimension to use for the long hive using deep frames is the size of a Langstroth box plus another 1/2" at the bottom. The bees don't generally draw much burr comb at the bottom of frames; that dimension must be larger than 1/4" but can be as large as 3/4" and the bees leave it alone.
The dimension _above_ the frames matters A LOT. If that is less than 3/8", the bees will propolize (using pine resin - so has the strength of epoxy, but is more brittle) the frames to that covering. If that space between the frames and something solid is greater than 3/8", like 1/2", they will draw out some comb in there, making a mess.
Google "burr comb" and you will see images, if this sounds confusing.
So, you must have an "inner cover" above the frames, and below the lid. It should not be insulation, because that will just get shredded when the frames get epoxied with propolis to that surface. You can use canvas, or smooth cloth - bath towel pieces are suboptimal. Or you can use pieces of wood, ideally 1x thickness, because you don't want these to warp.
I also recommend putting insulation on the inner side of the lid. In all seasons. Like permanently installed. That's where the bees also need protection from the elements - they lose more than half their heat from the lid, so require extra help there. It can be insulation above the lid too, physics don't care. I use R4 foam, but a nice piece below the lid, and scrap pieces above the lid - if you're not being sloppy, might be better off with more than R4.
I would strongly suggest adopting the _exact_ dimensions from the Langstroth deep box for the top, and the rabbet joint on which the frames sit, or however you are approximating that. I would purchase a box, in fact, or borrow one, to see this dimension in action. It's critical. And now is the time to fix any issues there, rather than after bees are in the hive!
Good luck! Oh and you can check out Michael Bush's website, he talks about using long hives briefly. He used a shallower depth - medium sized frames and corresponding space. I loved the horizontal hive setup, but it takes longer to inspect and I have too many hives now to take my time as much.
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