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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody,

Been quite a while since I last was on here. I happened upon Leo Sharaskin's videos on bees and promptly watched many hours of videos. Lots of good info for beginner's there. He has tons of free plans which really got my wheels turning. I then came over here and it seems that there are some mixed feelings about him.

In any case his videos got me thinking about horizontal style hives of various designs. The merits of horizontal hives seem quite good for those that are not commercial scale and don't have to move their colonies constantly. I currently have two colonies in Lang boxes and so am not super invested in any one type of set up.

I have spent many hours reading through this forum and have come away with a few conclusions and a few questions:
  • Bees seem to prefer a brood chamber deeper than a deep Lang.
  • Horizontal hive designs are easier on your back, but harder on your fingers (more dexterity required for top bars and stronger fingers required for very deep hives.)
  • There is very little standardization and lots of experimentation (which is cool!).
  • Touching top bars/frames leads to lots of hassle.

I am looking to build several hives/smarm traps this winter (already snowed a bit here) and would like my equipment to be relatively interchangeable. If there is any interchangeability with Lang frames in any orientation that would be even better.

So my question is: Have you guys found a horizontal hive design that allows the bees to have their brood chamber sufficiently deep and be somewhat interchangeable with Lang equipment/frames? My ideal hive seems to be what I have seen called a "peasant hive" or a hive where most of the honey harvest in at the end of the season.

I have read several suggestions to build a hive that will hold two medium deep frames turned on end and various other configurations of combined Lang frames. I have read tons of posts on this topic and am curious what other experimenting beekeepers have found to work.

For reference I live in the high desert of Northern New Mexico.

Cheers,
Emilio
 

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Bees seem to prefer a brood chamber deeper than a deep Lang.
I don't think bees care as much about frames and box sizes as beekeepers do. Bees are kept in all sorts of different sized boxes and so far there isn't anything that outcompetes all the others. If a boxes existed that the bees prefered - and there fore thrived much better in it - we would know by now.

Horizontal hive designs are easier on your back, but harder on your fingers (more dexterity required for top bars and stronger fingers required for very deep hives.)
Bigger frames are heavier, of course, but even the biggest frames won't weight any more than 5 kg/11 lbs.

There is very little standardization and lots of experimentation (which is cool!).
The question is: Do need to have that standardization? If you plan to sell bees with their boxes, you should use what's most common in your area. If you don't, the box size doesn't matter to you.

Touching top bars/frames leads to lots of hassle.
Care to elaborate on this? Working with 50.000 insects that can all sting you is always a bit of a hassle - the size of the frame doesn't really change this. In my opinion, if anything, bigger frames make it less of a hassle, as you have fewer frames to work with. I've had Mini Plus hives, very small frames, meant for queen rearing, so you end up with 50 - 70 frames in a big colony. Quite a night mare if you had to search all of them to find the queen.

I've I were to use frames and start out fresh I'd probably go with frames that are higher than they are wide. Something like this:


They use Dadant sized frames, but turned vertical. However as soon as you change the frame size you will run into compatibility issues. If if the frame is just turned on end, you can't just switch them around to put them back into the 'other' boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think bees care as much about frames and box sizes as beekeepers do.
Interesting... I have read tons of stuff recently on bees really preferring to build out brood in either several stacked Lang deeps or just a deeper box overall.

The question is: Do need to have that standardization?
As don't care too much about the multitude of hive designs out there (maybe one day I will experiment with more). I just want something that can more or less interchange the various systems I am using so that if something breaks or I need to move stuff around, I am not stuck with incompatibility issues.

Care to elaborate on this?
Leo Sharaskin is really into frames that have no gap at the top (i.e. are touching). After reading dozens of posts here it sounds like many people prefer placing some kind of cloth over the top of the frames, but still having the tops of the frames with space that the bees can get through when the cloth is removed. Still not totally clear on the merits of either system.

However as soon as you change the frame size you will run into compatibility issues.
That is what I am trying to avoid. Upon further searching I found this thread: Newby with Horizontal Hive Build
Lots of good info here. It seems like if I more or less follow a Layens hive build, but make the hive slightly deeper I can fit two mediums side by side. This seems like an elegant solution.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Another option is making the hive more like a long Lang with extra deep frames comprised of a top deep with a medium, sans ears, attached underneath. There are so many options, you just need to pick one and build everything to match.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies guys.

Another option is making the hive more like a long Lang with extra deep frames comprised of a top deep with a medium, sans ears, attached underneath. There are so many options, you just need to pick one and build everything to match.
Very good point. Are there any big advantages or disadvantages of the over under frame combos (medium + deep) vs. side by side (medium + medium) for the bees?

The main advantage I can see to the over under combos is that they still maintain Lang width and you can therefore theoretically add plain jane Lang supers on top if the honey flow is really off the charts or if you want to run multiple colonies in a horizontal hive and still want to collect a decent amount of honey. Thoughts?
 

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Most of these have been discussed:

 

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Leo Sharaskin is really into frames that have no gap at the top (i.e. are touching). After reading dozens of posts here it sounds like many people prefer placing some kind of cloth over the top of the frames, but still having the tops of the frames with space that the bees can get through when the cloth is removed. Still not totally clear on the merits of either system.
Like I say N times - IF you need to feed your bees from the top (the most common way up North) - you want your frame top bars passable.
IF you never feed your bees - Leo Sharashkin's way is fine.
However, I am yet to see a person who NEVER feeds his/her bees.
Well, okay, I know one person (not me) who says he never feeds.
 

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If if the frame is just turned on end, you can't just switch them around to put them back into the 'other' boxes.
Of course you can - you simply stand the frame in, as long as the hive body allows it (which it should). You are a perfectionist - you will not be able to sleep after doing so.
That is true.
LOL.

You see - a frame needs not to be hanging; there is no law requiring this either.
The frame very well could also be freely standing.
Like so:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
GregV, I was hoping you would chime in. I have read dozens of your posts (as well as little_john) on related topics.

Like I say N times - IF you need to feed your bees from the top (the most common way up North) - you want your frame top bars passable.
Thanks for the clarification. Makes total sense, feeding bees is not uncommon here. Any time our limited rains don't line up with wild flower/weeds seasons.

Of course you can - you simply stand the frame in, as long as hive body allows it.
I very much appreciate your non dogmatic and flexible approach to bee keeping.

I have heard you talk about and post pictures of both medium Lang on top of deep Lang and side by side medium Langs (I believe you have said this is very similar to a Ukranian hive). Do you have a current preference or have you seen any real world difference between the two? Or is it all down to personal preference?

Thanks so much to everyone sharing.
 

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Do you have a current preference or have you seen any real world difference between the two? Or is it all down to personal preference?
Difference between Lang/Dadant (~17"+ top bar) vs. the Layens/Ukrainian (~12"+ top bar) - I think you mean.

It has been argued enough that 12" cross-section of a frame is more natural - that I believe is true.
Of course, the cross section of natural cavities are much more likely to be ~12" vs. ~17".

One can argue it does not matter.

However, I subscribe to the idea that it does matter (in cold climate!) that such frame cross-section allows for more energy efficient cavity with all the subsequent benefits. Very simple geometry calculation shows how for the same exact area (and volume too), the cross-section of square ~12" frame hive has ~10-15% reduction of the perimeter (surface area) vs. the conventional ~17" frame hive . So, that is just the starting point of the comparison...
But this has been discussed enough to rehash it all the N-th time.

In the end, my custom-built hives are all rotate around ~12"+ top bar - the long hives, the variety of utility hives, and now the square CV hives too (fully compatible to the long hives).
Next year I want to build more CV hives (after the trial wintering run is done and I may learn some lessons out of it). I am doing this because the CV hives are much more mobile than the long hives - I need that.

But back to the long hives - just even the beekeeper ergonomy of a long hive is so hard to beat - that alone makes it a worthwhile to check out for yourself.
 

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both medium Lang on top of deep Lang
IF I were to go for a deep, ~17" top bar frame - that would be a Lazutin design (modified or not),
I'd fix a medium frame in THE TOP and a deep frame under it (not the other way around).
Reason, the medium frame in the top position will likely be the honey section - which will allow to separately harvest it if if needed. The deep frame in the bottom position will be mostly brood or brood&honey section - thus you have convenient honey/brood separation IF it desired.
Fixing a medium frame in THE BOTTOM location (under a deep frame) is less optimal.
Unsure why Lazutin did not see the issue, but unfortunatelly I can not ask him now (I would!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Fixing a medium frame in THE BOTTOM location (under a deep frame) is less optimal.
Unsure why Lazutin did not see the issue, but unfortunatelly I can not ask him now (I would!).
Agreed.

I have heard you mention standing frames several times and I have also read a bunch of different posts where people have large gaps between the bottom of a hanging frame and the bottom board. Is there no necessity to maintain bee space in this area? Do the bees inherently know not to build comb attached to the bottom of the hive to maintain adequate ventilation?
 

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Is there no necessity to maintain bee space in this area? Do the bees inherently know not to build comb attached to the bottom of the hive to maintain adequate ventilation?
With shallow frames you must maintain the bee space under the frame if you are a perfectionist.

My consistent observation is - combs drawn under the bottom of the frame say one thing definitely - the given cavity/frame depth is NOT enough. Given too shallow volume AND strong enough colony - they will build down as far as they can, but will NOT attach to the bottom.
Attaching to the bottom is not really a concern - unsure where that is coming from.
Look at the shallow TBH hives - they have no such problem.
Attaching to the sides is a concern, indeed.

So a single Lang depth is just not enough.
Single Dadant depth is not enough, but approaching the balance point.
Single Layens/Ukrainian depth is enough and the bees no longer have the urge to build down more.
Bees don't tell me if this is caused by enough ventilation or some other factor, but they don't build beyond the deep frame, no matter how much space is provided under. Here are open frames (i. e. modified top-bars only) - no issues.
 

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With shallow frames you must maintain the bee space under the frame if you are a perfectionist.

My consistent observation is - combs drawn under the bottom of the frame say one thing definitely - the given cavity/frame depth is NOT enough. Given too shallow volume AND strong enough colony - they will build down as far as they can, but will NOT attach to the bottom.
Attaching to the bottom is not really a concern - unsure where that is coming from.
Look at the shallow TBH hives - they have no such problem.
Attaching to the sides is a concern, indeed.

So a single Lang depth is just not enough.
Single Dadant depth is not enough, but approaching the balance point.
Single Layens/Ukrainian depth is enough and the bees no longer have the urge to build down more.
Bees don't tell me if this is caused by enough ventilation or some other factor, but they don't build beyond the deep frame, no matter how much space is provided under. Here are open frames (i. e. modified top-bars only) - no issues.
 

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I have built a few Layens hives with extra space below the frames so I could use the Langstroth frame turned 90 degrees andin a couple of my hives this year they built come below the standard depth Layens frame.
 

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I have built a few Layens hives with extra space below the frames so I could use the Langstroth frame turned 90 degrees andin a couple of my hives this year they built come below the standard depth Layens frame.
Sounds like you had 4-6 inches if free space under.
Suppose this could happen.
But I never observe this to happen, like I said.
If anything, I observe more often case when they do NOT build the very bottom section of a frame (I wish they DID, but they don't).
As in this picture (instead of finishing up the frames like the pictured, this hive actually swarmed on me):
 

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The main advantage I can see to the over under combos is that they still maintain Lang width and you can therefore theoretically add plain jane Lang supers on top if the honey flow is really off the charts or if you want to run multiple colonies in a horizontal hive and still want to collect a decent amount of honey. Thoughts?
This is really not an advantage for the Lang-width setup.
I super up over the deep frames with conventional medium Lang frames - not a problem.

You simply need to design your equipment so not have any of these artificial issues.
Like here, watch this short video (the revelation comes after 1:00).
This video also demonstrates how irrelevant are all those talks about not being able to turn a frame - just non-sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The Matt's Beekeeping channel has some interesting info on compatibility with (I think) medium Lang honey supers. Specifically this frame video. Too bad there aren't any recent videos on this channel.
 

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The Matt's Beekeeping channel has some interesting info on compatibility with (I think) medium Lang honey supers. Specifically this frame video. Too bad there aren't any recent videos on this channel.
I contributed some ideas for Matt's project and he implemented them (and filmed too).
Too bad, he stopped the videos going (I suspect because the viewership was low - for shame; I tried promoting his channel here best I could).
 

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Yes, I really enjoyed his videos and am going to try the medium supers over the Layens frames like he did. Wish he still posted.
 
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