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Long Hive Design Issue

2996 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mrobinson
I've been a Langstroth beek for a few years now. My son wanted his own hive and wanted a Top Bar. I bought him a traditional one with the angled sides. First install of bees...queen disappeared, colony dwindled away but left me with 2 medium sized combs. Hive remained empty until this spring. Caught a swarm and placed in the hive with the old combs. Two days later, hive absconded I think due to one of the combs detached from the bar and fell. Screw this.
Ordered a long hive from a hive builder who had never heard of one. I specified a screened bottom with slide in panel (not using) and landing board full entrance. I also wanted a gabled roof, but he made a telescoping top instead. Nice looking hive. I took a nuc and transferred 3 frames of brood w/ stores to the TBH. Easy. Off we go!
My issue is this...yesterday was 75 degrees and the girls were on the landing board fanning...hive too hot (on a cool day!). I noticed the clearance between the top of the top bars and the telescoping cover is between 1/16" and 1/8"...not much room for air flow. I'm adding some 1/8 shims to raise the cover today, but don't want to raise much as robbing will be an issue. This is why I wanted a gabled top cover as I could add gable vents. I'm considering adding a 3/4" shim and screening some notches to aid in venting.
Anyone have ventilation issues with their TBH's? Any suggestions?
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> Anyone have ventilation issues with their TBH's? Any suggestions?

Close off the screened bottom. Too much airflow/light. That may be why you had issues the first time around.

If you want to have a screened bottom, keep the 'count/sticky board' in place on a normal basis. See this thread for comments about screened bottoms and ventilation/temperature:
>Close off the screened bottom. Too much airflow/light.

Agree. They are trying to cool the hive and you left the door wide open...
I did away with the screened bottoms on mine and simply use a few strategically placed vent holes.
"Any suggestions?"
Do you know if the bees were fanning for pheromones or ventilation? I think that 1/16 to 1/8 would be fine for ventilation but may be short of insulation particularly in January and August in a long box without an inner cover. (This would depend somewhat on the type of material and thickness of your outer cover and the exposure to sun and north winds.) I would close off the screened bottom with something that would restrict light and air and see if I could fashion an inner cover. Others would not. Nice that your son is interested in bees and looking at options and that you are helping. Sons are people who teach us humility in various ways. Beehives are wooden boxes with bugs in them. Wish both of you success on the hive.
Now let me get this straight... The hive is in full sun. It's a cool 75 degrees outside and closing up the hive will cool it off?? I left the door open to help bring in that cool air. My Langs are all screened... But I realize a vertical hive will cool by the chimney effect whereas a long hive cannot do this. I had the screen closed off just from the follower, forward.. The rest was open and this is when I noticed the fanning.
Well you guys are the experts... I'll give It a try and let you know. Thanx for the help!
No ventilation will make them very hot (no cooling taking place at all and heat accumulating). Too much ventilation when it is hot out, can make them too hot because no cooling is taking place, but at least the heat is not accumulating. One small entrance is what bees prefer when they choose a home and they ventilate and COOL the hive quite efficiently through that one small opening. They can CONTROL the ventilation when it's just that one small opening. They cannot control the ventilation when the bottom is wide open. They are not just bringing in fresh air, they are using evaporative cooling to keep the brood nest a constant 93 F even when it's 110 F outside.
In the wild, bees always go for enclosed spaces: trees, eaves, walls, boxes. These spaces have one or two small openings. They're able to regulate the internal temperature because the space is closed. (Sometimes they hang-out outside, "bearding.")

Although we may do it with the very best of [human ...] intentions, when we leave the entire bottom of the hive open, we make the internal temperature and humidity impossible for the bees to regulate. That quantity of outside-air is going to overwhelm any of their attempts at control. While bees sometimes do live in "branch hives," building combs in places that are not fully enclosed, it is comparatively rare.

My own hTBH's are rudely-built affairs made from found wood, generally according to the suggested dimensions, sealed with one coat of Thompson's Water Seal, and covered with a similarly-sealed top made mostly of plywood. Now in their third season. The bees keep the insides quite tidy, bottom to top. The hives sit in the middle of a pasture, on concrete blocks, under a stand of hardwood trees which afford them shade throughout the day, with late-morning and late-afternoon direct light. Even on a hot summer day, when you stand underneath those trees it is noticeably cooler.

If you don't have trees, I'd put the hives under a sheet-metal roofed pole shed to block the worst of the sun. On a directly east- or west-facing side, buy a few wooden shipping-pallets and nail these up to form an open wall that will effectively block direct sun.
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