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If trees is round why is bee hive we make rectanular.

8477 Views 22 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Grant
I have been wondering why we make our hives rectanular. I can understand making 8 frames bodies so hives would be lighter and increase the number of hive bodies that can be filled with a lower number of frames.

Why don't we make hives and frames shorter so that the lenght is closer to the width? It seems like it would be more like a tree. Is there a 'not accepted' box size that Lang did not create that is a non-accepted standard for a square, or more square hive, that some non-common beekeepers who do the un-accepable and use?

Old Guy
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Trees is round, but the boards that come out of them aren't. We used to keep bees in round things, log gums and skep baskets. Rectangular boxes are more convenient for us.

There is some idea that the size of Langstroths original designed boxes were what they were because that is the size of the boards that he found available at the time.
I have been wondering why we make our hives rectanular. I can understand making 8 frames bodies so hives would be lighter and increase the number of hive bodies that can be filled with a lower number of frames.

Old Guy
Its kinda hard to make a round hive with square lumber.
Coopers do it all of the time.
Yeah, I know skepts (sp), clay pots, etc.

Why don't we make them square?
Coopers do it all of the time.
i would be glad to give the price of a couple deeps for a new barrel.
ever tried to stack firewood end on end -- 5 chunks high???
gets unstable -

also box makes it possible for removable frames - thats the main reason -- most state laws state that any hive owned is to have removable and inspectable frames. thats why the skeps went to the museums
i would be glad to give the price of a couple deeps for a new barrel.
LOL yeah i hear ya. Looked at the price of a wood barrel, 250 dollars for the cheap one.
ever tried to stack firewood end on end -- 5 chunks high???
gets unstable -
Concret, Now this is the first good reason I have heard. very paractical reason that I had not thought of. I am already committed to mids for brood and supers. but I have wondered about making them a bit smaller. I have a bad back and live on some drugs for it. Lighter is important to me. I have even considered if I could using 4" supers for both brood and above but the frame cost really adds up fast. I have been trying to think of a good reason not to make my equip square. I have made my own frames before.
Thanks Concret, You just gave me the best reason to bite the bullet and stay with the standard length of a Lang.
Thanks from the Old Guy.:applause:
Beekeepers have been experimenting with dimensions for years. Frame or super depth seems to have the least effect on hive health. If you want to run the shortest super you can the bees will not mind at all. Like I tell the ladies at my workshops -- you can always move a frame at a time. Two students seriously could not lift a 5 frame medium without injury. I cut 8 frame shallow hives for both.
Maybe Trees have been around longer than Bee's, I don't know. Maybe Bee's found a cavity in a tree and decided it looked like a good place for a home. I don't know as we can't figure out what Bee's think. Just rambling on.
Bees don't prefer trees(there are just alot of them around). Bees will take up home in anything as we see in cutouts. Walls,floors,fire plugs,doghouses,shop vacs,engine blocks and many other places not round. If you want a custom hive and supers you will pay more for parts or have to make them your self.What happens in swarm season when you get 6 swarms but only have equip. for 5 hives or you sell a hive to someone with lang hives. Also if you went with a round hive the CUSTOM frames would only fit in 1 or 2 places in a hive/super body and then a short frame from the side of the super may not fit a extractor bracket well. Sometimes its best not to stand out in the crowd and be diffrent. Jim
Hi,I never considered make round hive bodies. But I had considered reducing the length and making it more square.

But Cemente, made a good point about balance and stability when stacked high.
Old Guy
If you want to make it more square, you don't have to reduce the length. Just increase the width. Make your Langstroth type hive 12 frames wide instead of 10.

And you can even go one step farther and make your frames square by making new end bars that would make your frame just as deep as they are long.

This is not new. It is called The Jumbo Dadant.

I experienced one of these hives, w/ bees in it, in Ohio many years ago when I worked as an Apiary Inspector in Holmes County. It was owned by an Amish person. I don't think that he had ever taken it apart. Or not recently to when I checked it for disease.

If you think that a 10 frame deep super full of honey is heavy, try adding two more frames, ten more pounds. And then go deeper and add even more weight. I'm glad i was younger and stronger. No wonder the owner didn't manipulate this hive.
If you want a more square design checkout Warre hives. They are exactly square in shape. I have one with removable frames that I purchased from The frames are standard deeps that have been shortened to about 10 inches. The box is 8 frames wide resulting in a very compact and light-weight design. Warre theorized that stacking these smaller boxes vertically more acurately mimics the hollow of a tree cavity. Bees build from the top down so you add new supers to a Warre hive from the bottom. As the bees & queen move down into the new boxes the top boxes are converted to honey storage. The queen is always laying on fresh comb.
Thanks for the info on this hive design. Wonder why it has not caught on more? I would like to go this way but whay good would it do when I am gone and family is tyring to sell off my hives. I alreday know I will not out live my bees.
The Warre hive was probably the second most influential design behind the Langstroth. In the end the Langstroth design was better suited for commercial honey production so it proved out and the Warre fell by the wayside. With the resurgence of natural beekeeping and people looking for simpler, cheaper, less chemicals/treatments ways of beekeeping, the top bar hive designs like the Kenya and Warre hives have gained new life. In Europe and especially France there is a strong following for Warre and people here in the USA are starting to try them. They have many advantages, small easy to lift box sections being just one.

I like the modified Warre with the removable half or full frames. I plan to go foundationless full frames in my hive. Most people just use top bars in their Warre's but I'm not ready to take the top-bar only plunge just yet. I have a bad back so was already running 8 frames. Just thought I give this little Warre a try next. Good luck to you Old Alabama Bee Guy.
I once found some bees in little square trees.:D
Bees adapt themselves very well to just about any shape, so long as it is dry and has a bit of airflow. Langstroth experimented with several dimensions of hive, and his laterest design was a compromise. He felt that long and low was a shape liked by bees, but vertical stacking helped with ventilation and also security (not as easily knocked over). And yeah, being a woodworker, round stuff is hard to build.
I use all 8 frame mediums and I can tell you one downside to smaller hive bodies - the stack can get real tall. I don't much like the idea of having to stand on a ladder to work hives, and I dread when one gets blown over by a high wind.

I'm thinking it would be even worse with a Warre hive.

If I were starting over I would probably use 10 frame mediums and my stacks would be 25% shorter. 'Course the boxes would be 25% heavier so you really can't win.
Thanks for the info on this hive design. Wonder why it has not caught on more?
Well, probably because The Warre Store is the only company in the U.S. to offer this design (Teakwood Organics Modified Warre) and we have only been offering them since January, 2010. We have sold several dozen of them to satisfied customers all over the country. They are a great design (if I do say so myself) and the bees love them. They might get two boxes higher than a Lang but the boxes only weigh 45 lbs. max so, so what?

As far as wind goes, my more than a dozen hives have been through storms with 70-80 MPH winds and have never blown over. They are extremely stable and dont catch much wind due to their only 13.5" sides. Never had one of our octagonal hives go over, either.

None of my hives are wired of otherwise secured (except by propolis!).

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics
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