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I'm a little bit confused about the different types of hives. Most of the material I've gotten my hands on so far only talks about one or two types, usually 10-frame.

Our community garden is focusing on sustainable agriculture, and I've heard that some people are into sustainable beekeeping. What exactly does this entail? And what type of hive and bees are best for this?

We're in a neighborhood, so I'm guessing that the gentler Italian bees would be best for this? It's a college campus, and our garden is between the dean's house and the international program house, so we don't have to deal with too many non-college neighbors, but there are some across the street and down the road. I've heard of stingless bees - would they be a good alternative if the neighbors object? Or are they better for more advanced beekeepers?

Our main purpose for having bees, besides the experience, is pollination. Honey would be nice, but it isn't really a big deal one way or the other. Are certain types of hives more honey-oriented?

Which hives are easiest to deal with? The most durable? The most bang for your buck? Which might be easiest to build from scratch? I do have some woodworking experience and could probably get access to all the necessary tools. Is this a more economical option? Or is it more trouble than it's worth?

Thanks!
 

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Most of your questions have no definite answers, but loads of opinions...

I would say based on your goals and desire for something you can build relatively easily - go the top bar hive route. However, your goals can easily be achieved with Langstroth equipment as well.

The race of bee is not so important in my opinion. Italians are fine, but they can get just as nasty as any other race. How you manage them (what you will tolerate) comes into play here. Meaning if the bees are too defensive for your tastes - the common remedy is to requeen them. I would try to get bees from someone fairly close (within a state or two) who has a good reputation.

Stingless bees you refered to were probably native bees. There are no stingless European honey bees (except the drones). Basically, you can provide habitat for the native bees but this is not beekeeping.

One of the best things you can do is find a local club and/or an experienced beekeeper to meet with and answer your questions as they come up.
 

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A top bar hive is a an economical option, google them and check out Mr Michael Bushe's website at www.bushfarms.com. I got mine from www.customwoodkitsinternational.com, and there are free plans there and lots of info there too. I love mine for the simplicity, no lifting and ease of working with the bees. My bees seem to love it too. You will get lots of opinions and help here. Good luck,
Carrie
Also look at PJ Chandler, The Barefoot Beekeeper and www.biobees.com, I think.
 

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Find your local bee club. There is probably someone that lives near by that would like to place and take care a hive for you. One of the larger bee suppliers is located in Clarkson, KY Grayson County. check with one of the entomologist at the school. I know the University of TN takes care of over a large number of hives as part of the AG Program. John Skinner is head of the program the department Phone number is. You may want to contact the KY state apairist.
 

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for a beginner, i'd say join the local club and get the kind of hive most of its members use to make it easier to get LOCAL help and advice. bees are no longer easy to keep. good luck,mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Find your local bee club. There is probably someone that lives near by that would like to place and take care a hive for you. One of the larger bee suppliers is located in Clarkson, KY Grayson County. check with one of the entomologist at the school. I know the University of TN takes care of over a large number of hives as part of the AG Program. John Skinner is head of the program the department Phone number is. You may want to contact the KY state apairist.
I'd actually like to learn to do it myself, since I want to go into sustainable agriculture. This winter, I'm going to bee school. But I'm definitely joining the club!


for a beginner, i'd say join the local club and get the kind of hive most of its members use to make it easier to get LOCAL help and advice. bees are no longer easy to keep. good luck,mike
Good point. I'll take that into consideration.


A top bar hive is a an economical option, google them and check out Mr Michael Bushe's website at www.bushfarms.com. I got mine from www.customwoodkitsinternational.com, and there are free plans there and lots of info there too. I love mine for the simplicity, no lifting and ease of working with the bees. My bees seem to love it too. You will get lots of opinions and help here. Good luck,
Carrie
Also look at PJ Chandler, The Barefoot Beekeeper and www.biobees.com, I think.
I've been to bushfarms and biobees briefly and just haven't looked around a lot yet. Great prices on those hives, thanks. Glad to hear that they're easy to deal with.


Most of your questions have no definite answers, but loads of opinions...

I would say based on your goals and desire for something you can build relatively easily - go the top bar hive route. However, your goals can easily be achieved with Langstroth equipment as well.

The race of bee is not so important in my opinion. Italians are fine, but they can get just as nasty as any other race. How you manage them (what you will tolerate) comes into play here. Meaning if the bees are too defensive for your tastes - the common remedy is to requeen them. I would try to get bees from someone fairly close (within a state or two) who has a good reputation.

Stingless bees you refered to were probably native bees. There are no stingless European honey bees (except the drones). Basically, you can provide habitat for the native bees but this is not beekeeping.

One of the best things you can do is find a local club and/or an experienced beekeeper to meet with and answer your questions as they come up.
Hmm, thanks. What exactly is a "native bee," and why can't you keep them in captivity?


Thanks for the input, everyone!
 

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If you plan to keep the hive(s) stationary, it could be very economical and 'fun' for you to try a top bar hive.

BBE-Tech also sells a KTBH , but half the fun is building one if you can.

Big Bear
 

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Stingless bees are more common in Central America. The Mayans raised them for centuries. The are still around in reduced numbers - Melliponi. Problem is stingless bees crawl in your nose and mouth to suffocate you as their defensive measure - a little more unsettling than stings. I use Cordovans at the University of South Florida. The first year workshops I did not use a veil. I could not get my students to wear veils so this year I always wear a veil and have full suits and hooded jackets for them.
 

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www.bbe-tech.com sells the TBH and KTBH as well. He build them to order, and they are cheap.....warning though, its addictive
 

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the best most sustable hive is the modern Hive thats 158 years old. I know I am going to catch heck for saying that. But it is. TBH as I have said befor are throw back to the stone age. Bees move up not out a TBH forces the bees to do something they don't do in nature if you want to do sutable beekeeping go as organic as you can. And that is darn hard to do unless you have your hives in the middle of a few 100 acres that are all organicly grown. But the best way imho is doing good beek practices being proactive not reactative to what your bees need. Some one who I admire in beekeeping and is world knowen is Ross Conrad. He wrote the book on organic beekeeping and all natural beekeeping. read his book and see if you like what he has to say. Then go from there.
 

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....you need to go look at a ton of the cutouts that are done each year. There are just as many that have vertical hives as horizontal......You can't say that you are forcing bees to do somthing that isnt in their nature. It's an untrue statement. If they didnt want to build horizontally then they would not......we make that statement based on the standard from using the Lang hive, and its just not true......I would say that they are opportunistic in what they want to do rather.....if they can go vertical..they will. If they can go horizontal....they will.....you could say that we are forcing them to do both in a lang........BTW, i do not have a TBH........
 

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Well, it's obvious that I and quite a few others disagree with your throwback opinion.

Having said that, we all know that you and I are entitle d to have our opinions, regardless of whether we agree or not.

But you might consider that being a 'throwback' isn't always a bad thing. sometimes the 'old' ways are the best ways.

I am surprised you push that relic of an idea that bees "want" to move up though.

Bees fill out a cavity.and if you notice, on their own, they do indeed place combs horizontal to each other. neat huh?

If bees only wanted to 'move up' they would only have one comb made to be as long as possible, . But, they don't, Apis Mellifera has multiple combs, horizontal to each other. indicating they will move in any direction necessary.

depending on the size of the cavity, honey bees will fill the space with comb, the wider the cavity, the more comb they will put in side by side ( that's horizontal)

enjoy the bees.

Big Bear
 

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I personally (and obviously my own opinion) prefer a long hive coupled with traditional langs frames.

The main body is the length of 2 or 3 traditional hive bodies set next to each other. You then can use traditional frames. I haven't tried top bars yet mostly because I'm not good at judging spacing. I also use the same sized frames in everything. From the main hive body to the supers, everything is mediums.

These are great at allowing you to add supers at one end and doing a top feeder at the other end. I also like to use top entrances to force the bees to move through the supers. The top entrances are easy to do using "migratory" covers.

The entire thing can be built using a chop/miter saw and a table saw. Very simple and easy. In fact I did a step-by-step and posted it to the forum last year. Also they are very cheap, just a few 1x8 pine boards from your local big box supply store.
 

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Looks like the thread is getting a little off topic so to get things back in line with your questions, I’ll muddy up the water with my 2-cents.

You are putting in what amounts to a community hive for your public garden. It will be a focal point in the garden whether you intend it that way or not. Why not put in a nice “traditional” WBC type hive with Langstroth internal dimensions. Put a copper top on it and it will really look nice and be a fixture in the community garden for years to come. With the Lang internals the working parts (frames) will be compatible with most of beeks in the neighborhood making parts, and brood if needed, a snap. Building and working the hive is a little more of an issue but the added insulation will make overwintering of the hive much more probable. And after interest in maintaining the hive is lost, it will be easier to pass on (just keep in painted). If you are handy with a saw and hammer, there are plans at http://www.beesource.com/build-it-yourself/10-frame-wbc-hive-steve-moye/ . If you don’t want to build one, they can be bought at a much steeper cost than a industrial quality Lang that others are suggesting.

As for the bees, you want the normal honey bees for generic pollination of the garden. Any of the different flavors of honey bees will work, but ones bread in your neighborhood are probably better adapted to your environment. You asked about stingless bees and they probably would not be the best for your needs. There are some 3000+ native bees in North America (so I have read) and many of them are stingless but most of them are specific to one plant type or another. Only a few do generic crop pollination and the honey bee is one of the best.

I hope this helps and doesn’t confuse you more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Jerry - Fortunately, since my dad is the director of the garden and actually wanted to try bees in our yard some years ago (decided not to because of the neighbors and expense and so forth), he'll be here for years to maintain the hive after I graduate.
Thanks for the info about durability and compatibility with other hives. That's good to know.
I'm not so sure about it being a visual focal point. We'll probably build a fence in front of it to force them to fly up and help neighbors feel more comfortable.
And, goodness, stingless bees sound nasty! Thanks, glad to know they're usually plant-specific.

bigbearohama - Yep, stationary.

Overall, so far, I think that a top bar sounds best. I like that the entrance is above the ground, away from pests. With a vegetable garden nearby, I'm sure there'll be pests around. I definitely like the simplicity and the price. I should have a lot of time this summer, so I'll take a whack at building my own hive. But I'll do some more reading when I get my books and think on it, and I'll find out what kind of hives most of the local beeks have.
 
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