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A KTBH to Deep Long Hive conversion ...

 
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BBC
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: A KTBH to Deep Long Hive conversion ... Reply with quote

If anyone should discover that the Kenyan Top Bar Hive really isn't suitable for their style of beekeeping, here is one possible alternative to either selling it or resorting to the use of a box of matches: a simple conversion of a KTBH into a Deep Long Hive, dimensioned for 14"x12" frames.

This example holds a total of 32 14" x 12" frames at 34mm spacing, giving a total comb area well in excess of four standard National brood boxes. Thus, a garden hive with limited potential can very easily be converted into a hive capable of housing two very substantial colonies, and within the same footprint.

All that is required is the addition of a floor and a few trimming battens at the top, with the method of construction being almost identical to that of the Mk.II All-Weather Long Hive. http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17255



This is the KTBH I made a few years ago, which seemed like a good idea at the time. However, only one swarm of bees was ever kept in it before I realised it's limitations and changed to using it as a workbench instead. This is the original hive:




My initial intention was to give the KTBH another try and, as I'd been using a sheet of corrugated iron as a roof, I decided it was about time a proper roof was made. So here we are attaching some aluminium cladding to a pitched roof made from pallet wood:




This is how I made the ends - using some scrap plywood as a template:




And this is the aluminium cladding - almost ready to be nailed in place - using the same basic method as that used when making the Long Hive roof:




Having made a decent roof - I then decided it would be worthwhile re-building the KTBH as a Deep Long Hive, as wedges could always be installed onto the sides of such a hive to create the KTBH wedge-shaped combs if I should ever need to make such nucs for anybody. So - the KTBH was duly taken apart:




... and a new floor made, again using the same technique as for the Long Hives:




And here is the result:





This shot shows the back of the hive after a lick of paint, and with the legs bolted on. Aluminium cladding has been attached to the sides, to give added protection from the elements. The bottom of the cladding has been flared outwards to provide a drip edge, and it's sides sealed with silicone rubber.




This shows a less than perfect arrangement of entrance holes, which resulted from adjusting the position of the end plates which was necessary to ensure that the existing hinge points remained functional.




A shot of the inside, showing the OMF strips. The floor and divider were painted as they are made from reclaimed pallet wood which is often prone to swelling otherwise. The walls still have some beeswax and propolis attached, so were left 'as is'.




Detachable webbing straps.




Finished hive - with a darker contrasting stripe added to break-up an otherwise oppressive wall of gray.



The two small Russian 'Alpine' Hives behind this Deep Long Hive will be moved forward to be located near the Long Hive's entrances during the winter, and their occupants then transferred into this Long Hive in early spring.


Colin
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, now you have reverted the top bar hive to a conventional frame hive, maybe we should all just pack up and forget about 'natural beekeeping' altogether?
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rmcpb
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't realise that framed hives excluded a keeper from being a natural beekeeper. Isn't it a way of keeping the bees and not the box?

Nice work on the conversion but I don't think I would have done it.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rmcpb wrote:
I didn't realise that framed hives excluded a keeper from being a natural beekeeper. Isn't it a way of keeping the bees and not the box?



Frames per se don't prevent 'natural beekeeping', but IMO they have serious limitations, especially as they require a top opening hive (except for the rear-opening eastern European box hives). This inevitably causes loss of brood nest heat during inspections. They also add another unnecessary expense and complication to what can be a simple hive.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I should have expected that kind of absolutist response from Phil by my use of the word 'frame'. Smile

But I'm using that term in a kind of generic way, for if you read my thread on building Long Hives - I very clearly state that either frames or Top Bars - or even both on a mix and match basis - may be used in Long Hives. It's the same with this Deep Long Hive. That is what makes this format so much more flexible than that of the KTBH - which of course was never designed with 'natural beekeeping' in mind, it was only ever intended as a transition hive for impoverished Africans with few tools or skills.

Although I hadn't planned on revealing my intended 14x12 'frame' to the world just yet - as it hasn't yet been tested on the bees - this is what I intend using:



As you will see, this 'frame' uses wire which is more-or-less invisible to the bees, and they will simply build comb around it if they wish.

Colin
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biobee
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not an 'absolutist' about anything, except the use of toxic additives, and I rather resent the accusation.

My point was that frames are an unnecessary intrusion into the bees' space, and it looks like you are simply compensating for the poor mass:attached area ratio in a Tanzanian by adding extra structural support. Nothing new there, but I do find your pointless attack on the well-proven and very flexible TBH design rather tiresome.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
I am not an 'absolutist' about anything, except the use of toxic additives, and I rather resent the accusation.

My point was that frames are an unnecessary intrusion into the bees' space, and it looks like you are simply compensating for the poor mass:attached area ratio in a Tanzanian by adding extra structural support.


No it wasn't. What you said was:
Quote:
So, now you have reverted the top bar hive to a conventional frame hive, maybe we should all just pack up and forget about 'natural beekeeping' altogether?


To be suggesting that 'everyone' should respond in a particular way towards one person's hive conversion is absolutist - is it not ?

Why does beekeepng always have to be so 'black and white' ? Bees are flexiible adaptable creatures - how is it that the keepers of bees cannot follow their example ?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Colin,

I'm interested in these big Delon style frames you are planning on making. Is that two lengths of wire in the picture, an inner and an outer one? Galvanised fencing wire or have you found something better?

What's been your experience with the smaller Alpine hive Delon frames? Do the bees readily attach to the wire and not the box walls? Are you confident, seeing as these new frames are quite a bit taller, that the frames will stay moveable and the combs will stay within the wire frame?

And are you abandoning the Alpine hives, or just moving those bees because you are keen to fill this new hive?
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ingo50
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't too much wire block some of the vibration signals sent between bees on the comb ? I thought that on natural comb the intensity was amplified to more distal bees and that vibration is a vital communication mechanism in the dark of a hive. I have also repeatedly seen a reluctance to fill cells around the wires on many frames used in National hives. Is this seen with aluminum rare than iron containing wire also?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ingo50 wrote:
Doesn't too much wire block some of the vibration signals sent between bees on the comb ? I thought that on natural comb the intensity was amplified to more distal bees and that vibration is a vital communication mechanism in the dark of a hive


Would the wooden cross supports used in skeps or the twigs of branches (when comb is built free-hanging in the open) present the same issues?

ingo50 wrote:
I have also repeatedly seen a reluctance to fill cells around the wires on many frames used in National hives. Is this seen with aluminum rare than iron containing wire also?


Does happen but generally, in my experience, when the wire itself is causing some kind of physical issue. Like many others we use (stainless) wire in our frames and find that the bees happily incorporate it into their comb -or, should I say they build their comb despite it's presence and then proceed to use the comb as normal.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broadwell wrote:
Hi Colin,

I'm interested in these big Delon style frames you are planning on making. Is that two lengths of wire in the picture, an inner and an outer one? Galvanised fencing wire or have you found something better?


Yes indeed - inner and outer - both galvanised fencing wire. Personally, I don't have a problem with using such wire, as my motives for keeping bees are not to harvest honey (I don't actually like it very much ...). But if I ever did, then I might well consider changing to stainless steel, sure.

But - I must stress that I haven't made even a single one of these yet. I only posted that diagram in response to Phil's criticism of my intended use of 'frames'.

This design resulted from a consideration of how best to operate with the 14x12 format, which is very large, and I can forsee difficulties with comb sag unless some additional support is given. With wooden frames, the solution is easy - simply run a number of wires or fishing lines across the two walls - but this cannot easily be done with wire. I did make up a few deep Delon frames for a Warre-style bait box, by incorporating a loop halfway down the frame sides, and strung a wire across at that point - but that wire cannot then have any tension, as tension simply serves to pull the wire frame into an hour-glass shape.

My experience thus far with deeper wire frames (210mm) is that when the comb is fully drawn, there's no problem, as there's usually several adhesions to the frame sides to support the comb. But until it's fully drawn, the comb remains vulnerable.
This is when I came up with the idea of a smaller frame inside a larger frame. The idea being that when the comb is very small, there's no need for support at that time anyway, then as the comb grows it becomes supported by the smaller inner frame, and even if/when the comb becomes 95% drawn, and maybe doesn't have adequate adhesions to the large frame, it will still remain supported by the smaller inner frame. At least, that's the theory ! It will be interesting to see what the bees make of it.

The frame top bar will also have 10mm rebated ends allowing it to co-exist with standard wooden frames whilst still maintaining a bee space between the top bar and crown board.

And - as a bonus - should anyone ever want a KTBH nuc - the outer frame can simply be snipped-off at the top, and the comb cut using a KTBH follower board as a guide, and the resulting comb will thus remain supported by the inner frame for the trip home.

Quote:
What's been your experience with the smaller Alpine hive Delon frames? Do the bees readily attach to the wire and not the box walls?

You raise a good point. I've never fully understood how the Delon frames are intended to be used with regard to the side beespace. There's nothing in Delon's own correspondence about this, and the Russians have experimented with 'corrugated' walls in an attempt to provide an unambiguous side beespace. But - some of their boxes have these sides, and some don't, so I guess their results remain inconclusive. So - not knowing what I was 'supposed' to do, I made the smaller (108mm) frames with their sides about a beespace from the walls, and hoped for the best. In every case (bearing in mind that these boxes are a bitch to inspect), it certainly appears that the girls have glued their combs to the wall - in some cases along their full length. It's as if they 'don't see' the wire at all, and just build around it.

Quote:
Are you confident, seeing as these new frames are quite a bit taller, that the frames will stay moveable and the combs will stay within the wire frame?

Confident ? No. Emphatically No. Smile But I've forever an optimist (like - you have to be ...)

Quote:
And are you abandoning the Alpine hives, or just moving those bees because you are keen to fill this new hive?

I'll try to keep this story short. Smile
For years I've been struggling with bees which are very, very different than those I experienced as a schoolboy back in the early 1960's. Back then we seldom wore veils, and I don't ever remember being stung, despite our over-enthusiasm and clumsiness.
Fast-forward to the present ... The bees I've been working with thus far have been dreadful - following, running on combs, over-defensive - you name it, they had it. And so for the last few years I've been trying to source some decent AMM queens to replace them with, but without success. Until one day I posted on one of the lesser-known forums about how dreadful my bees were, and that it looked like I was going to spend the rest of my life pruning away their bad traits - when one guy offered to sell me a couple of AMM queens of breeding quality, which I quickly snapped up.

These queens duly arrived, and were placed in nucs, and they began laying, and laying ... And it quickly became clear that these were very prolific queens indeed. A quick email to the supplier revealed that these queens produce BIG colonies and are best kept in brood-an-a-half Nationals. So I then made two Long Hives (20+ standard brood frames) to accommodate them.

Having then set the groundwork for a complete change in my beekeeping fortunes, as it were, I then relaxed to allow those girls to build-up in their own time.

Meanwhile - elsewhere in the apiary I was making substantial increase by a method I've described in another thread. One consequence of this activity was that by July I'd completely run out of boxes and associated kit, and had even resorted to using car tyres as stands. I wanted to keep one nuc (which at that time held one of the newly acquired AMM queens) off the ground - so I used a Warre-style bait box - which had never been successful - as it's stand. It was on the 4th of July when a swarm started to arrive (over several days - weird or what ?) and installed itself in that bait box, but by now being up to my armpits in bees, I pretty-much ignored it.
However - as the days passed it became clear than this was no ordinary swarm, for this colony was clearly far more active than even those of my established hives.

And so - as it had already drawn-out combs on the 210mm frames which were in the Warre bait box, I decided to transfer those frames into an unused Russian 'Alpine' Hive, and simply nailed 2 of the shallow 108mm boxes together to hold those deeper frames.
During my routine inspections, I noticed that these bees were completely indifferent to my presence. When blowing on the bees for example, they simply moved to one side. When I once did that to my 'old-style' bees, a great cloud of them took to the air intent on murder. A very different response.

At first I dismissed this as being the behaviour of a small colony, but as it grew this excellent behaviour remained, and so I decided to 'clone' these genetics (just in case ...), and cobbled together another 'Alpine' Hive for this purpose. So that's why those bees are where they are right now.

These two hives have continued to be super-active, and promise to grow into very large colonies - maybe even 'brood-an-a-half National' size again (perhaps that's why they swarmed, for lack of room ?). Now, 'Alpine' Hives are fairly small capacity - unless they're stacked up high, of course - and I don't have sufficient experience with them yet to be able to judge when these boxes are becoming congested. (They are, I repeat - a bitch to inspect - in comparison with Nationals or Long Hives)

So - in answer to your question (sorry it's taken so long to get here) I don't want to risk losing these bees to swarming - so at the first opportunity in the spring I'll transfer them into the Deep Long Hive (that's the very reason I made it), and only when they're established within that hive will I risk pulling a few of the Delon 'Alpine' frames out and replacing them in the Russian Hives to clone more of these genetics. Then - if I should screw-up and they swarm - it won't be such a significant loss.

Again, sorry for the length of reply, but it's quite a complex picture to describe in just a few words.

'best,
Colin
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Last edited by BBC on Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ingo50 wrote:
Doesn't too much wire block some of the vibration signals sent between bees on the comb ? I thought that on natural comb the intensity was amplified to more distal bees and that vibration is a vital communication mechanism in the dark of a hive. I have also repeatedly seen a reluctance to fill cells around the wires on many frames used in National hives. Is this seen with aluminum rare than iron containing wire also?


What isn't shown on the diagram I posted are any meaurements, because I'm only at the initial concept stage with this idea.
What is very likely to emerge will be an 8" deep outer frame hanging within a 12" cavity. That will give support at approx. 30% and 60% of the comb depth, allowing the bottom 4" or so to hang freely and vibrate.

But - it's a compromise between supporting the comb to prevent damage to it, and yet allowing it to be as unsupported as possible for the reasons you mention.

Totally unsupported comb is unnatural. Removable comb is unnatural. Transported comb is unnatural. But somehow we need to reach a compromise between what the bees require and what is practicable when beekeeping. I'm hoping that this idea, whilst not being perfect, of course, will prove satisfactory for both bees and humans. Smile

I think Prakel has covered your other point rather well. I think it's more to do with 'intrusion' rather than metal per se. Stainless steel is usually non-magnetic, and yet the bees' avoidance is identical with plain steel, non-magnetic steel, or indeed, with nylon fishing line.

'best
Colin
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC wrote:
In every case (bearing in mind that these boxes are a bitch to inspect), it certainly appears that the girls have glued their combs to the wall - in some cases along their full length. It's as if they 'don't see' the wire at all, and just build around it.


Thanks for your post Colin. Very interesting to get a fuller picture. Regarding the bit above, I think I'm right that in the Russian videos they use a full sheet of foundation cut to the shape of the wire frame. If you didn't do this, maybe that could have helped? I think they might even melt the edges of the foundation onto the frame.

Is the wire you're using 3mm diameter?

I look forward to hearing how it goes with your new bigger wire frames – whether they incorporate the inner wire or perhaps even avoid it all-together as they build down.

Something I was wondering – if a fairly thin dowel was fixed perpendicularly into the middle of a top bar, so it hung down, would this do the job of stabilising and supporting the centre of the comb? Or in other words, would the bees incorporate this dowel into the comb?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broadwell wrote:
BBC wrote:
In every case (bearing in mind that these boxes are a bitch to inspect), it certainly appears that the girls have glued their combs to the wall - in some cases along their full length. It's as if they 'don't see' the wire at all, and just build around it.


Thanks for your post Colin. Very interesting to get a fuller picture. Regarding the bit above, I think I'm right that in the Russian videos they use a full sheet of foundation cut to the shape of the wire frame. If you didn't do this, maybe that could have helped? I think they might even melt the edges of the foundation onto the frame.


You're absolutely right about their method. They use embossed foundation and 'weld' it into the frame by electrically heating the wire.
But I don't use foundation - never have - so I'm a bit stuffed on that one. Smile

Quote:
Is the wire you're using 3mm diameter?

I'm currently living in a former plant nursery, and there are several hundred metres of cropping wire (used to support crops in commercial greenhouses and polytunnels) here which I'm using - pity to waste that, and it's a touch of re-cycling too ... This wire is 2.5mm, but I'd have preferred to have used 3mm - which doesn't sound much different, but that half millimetre adds quite a bit of strength, for very little added intrusion.

Quote:
I look forward to hearing how it goes with your new bigger wire frames – whether they incorporate the inner wire or perhaps even avoid it all-together as they build down.

Something I was wondering – if a fairly thin dowel was fixed perpendicularly into the middle of a top bar, so it hung down, would this do the job of stabilising and supporting the centre of the comb? Or in other words, would the bees incorporate this dowel into the comb?

I researched this a couple of years ago, before settling on wire - which for me, is free. Dowel rod itself is incredibly expensive, and I did consider using garden canes - but there remains some uncertainty about whether they have been treated with insecticide or not.

I then found an almost ideal source: bamboo barbecue skewers. These are food grade, and so untreated. They come in sizes up to 5mm diameter and 300mm long. A firm of catering suppliers in Newark kindly sent me some samples, and these would be perfect for the job. But ... (there's always a 'but') ... as they supply the catering industry, they only supply in large quantities - something around £30 a thousand if memory serves. Now that's only 3p each, which is great, but does anyone really need a thousand ? Smile They also have a minimum carriage charge, but did suggest that I could collect if passing.

I'll keep you posted.

Colin
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just had a quick check and you can buy bamboo skewers in packs of 100 or 200 very cheaply on ebay.

Think I'll try some, and see if the bees avoid or envelop it with their comb.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quick update on this hive, which has been running now for 2 seasons - and has exceeded all of my expectations.

'Normal' beehive comb layout is generally considered to be an oval-shaped brood pattern, with a 'crescent' of pollen over, and honey stored above that. In contrast, the 12" deep combs of this hive have displayed what I would term a 'dedicated' feature - meaning that one comb is more-or-less dedicated to brood, another to pollen, another to drones, and so on. At first sight I thought that this might be some kind of peculiarity, but on checking with a friend who runs Dadants, this is very typical of comb layout within large-frame hives.

In terms of 'hive performance' - both colonies of bees within this hive are noticeably more prolific and more dynamic in their behaviour. It has become clear to me that deeper combs are more desirable, and in view of this I've started a one-hive experiment with 14"x14" frames which provide the same comb area as those of the Modified Dadant beehive. It may be of interest that David Heaf is also currently experimenting with deeper frames.

From a 'Natural Beekeeping' perspective, I've never been entirely happy about the amount of beekeeper management required by many horizontal hives, and so I'm very pleased to be able to report that this modified beehive has required no beekeeper management whatsoever during the last 2 years in order for all of the combs to be utilised.

My only negative criticism of the hive is that sixteen 14"x12" frames appear to be not quite enough, and that around twenty would probably be ideal. Apart from that, the conversion has been a most worthwhile project.

More details of the 'National-Dadant' experiment (running now for one season) and the 'National-Warre' experiment (which begins this year) can be seen at:
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping at: http://heretics-guide.site90.com/
The site currently has very few webpages - more will be added as time allows.

Colin
(known elsewhere as 'Little John')
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you really want deep frames, there is the Lazutin hive.

http://www.horizontalhive.com/how-to-build/hive-frame-swarm-trap.shtml
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC wrote:
It has become clear to me that deeper combs are more desirable, and in view of this I've started a one-hive experiment with 14"x14" frames which provide the same comb area as those of the Modified Dadant beehive. It may be of interest that David Heaf is also currently experimenting with deeper frames.

From a 'Natural Beekeeping' perspective, I've never been entirely happy about the amount of beekeeper management required by many horizontal hives, and so I'm very pleased to be able to report that this modified beehive has required no beekeeper management whatsoever during the last 2 years in order for all of the combs to be utilised.

My only negative criticism of the hive is that sixteen 14"x12" frames appear to be not quite enough, and that around twenty would probably be ideal. Apart from that, the conversion has been a most worthwhile project.

More details of the 'National-Dadant' experiment (running now for one season) and the 'National-Warre' experiment (which begins this year) can be seen at: A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping ...


Just a bit of an update for anyone considering running extra-large format frames/combs:

The National-Dadant experiment (eleven 14"x14" frames giving the same comb area as the Modified Dadant - the largest of the 'standard' hives currently in use) revolved around foundationless frames with vertical bamboo skewer support, and were initially drawn-out to approx 12", and were completed early the next season just as soon as the weather became warmer.

The hive was inspected a few days ago, and although we are now only in the first week of June, this 'National-Dadant' Beehive is out-performing every other hive in the apiary, without exception. Indeed, the inspection revealed that even this large-volume configuration is insufficient to cater for the size of colony which can result by giving bees more freedom to enlarge their size.

I used to think that Oscar Perone's ideas were somewhat extreme, but now I'm not so sure. Likewise, Spivak's recommendation to use triple-deep brood stacks in the northern states of America would seem to be very wise advice. And so it would appear that Charles Dadant knew a thing or two about the keeping of honey-bees.

There's just one caveat I would mention and that is the use of supers, which have been shown to be essential above such large brood nests, as a failure to use supers will result in storage of honey within brood combs which will, a) make them extremely heavy to lift, and b) make honey extraction difficult, if not impossible.

If it were not for that single consideration, then I'd immediately change all my hives over to this larger format - but I'm not a honey-farmer, and so have no interest in supering.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beekeeping is not black and white.

Beekeepers often are. IME
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colin - what happened to your "Heretic's Guide" site? Have you moved it?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all the different hive designs, a function of mans enginuity and long may it continue and they all seem to 'work' to one degree or another, it does seem to suggest we are overthinking this somewhat more than the bees. Smile

One colony I heard of lived for years under the bonnet of a disused army truck . . . . . . . :-/
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Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Colin - what happened to your "Heretic's Guide" site? Have you moved it?


Hello Phil - I've been 'out of the loop' for a while now - have just dropped by ...

The old website was working fine, until Hostinger 'improved' something at their server, following which I couldn't access the site, so I eventually abandoned it. The Beemaster forum was down for some days recently (another Hostinger site), so whatever the problem was it must be catching ...

But - I had that website backed-up, and it's since been uploaded to another website provider. Thanks for that nudge, Phil - I've been so busy that I'd forgotten to advise anyone of the new address. Which is - http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com

I've recently added a 'Trip around the Apiary' which may be of some interest to anyone experimenting with bees and/or their hives.

'best,
Colin


Hi Andy. We're humans ! We've somehow got into our heads that we know more about this business than the bees do. Very Happy
Colin
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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