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Japanese Style Hives

 
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Location: 52.3016° N, 0.4368° E
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Hi all,

I'm going to be(e) starting a beekeeping course in the new year, and have been looking into building my own hive - potentially to then start crafting more hives to sell and manage.

However, my carpentry abilities are very limited and I don't think that they stretch to the precision engineering a hive the likes of a Langstroth or Warre might need.

I stumbled upon the plans for a Japanese style hive a little while - not sure if they have a proper name - where it is essentially a typical Western style hive, just without frames or top bars.

So the bees fill the space in the boxes with comb from top to bottom, then when you want to  harvest the honey you use wire to slice through the comb and separate the boxes.

I was just wondering if anyone on here had used, or is using, this method - or if you had any other resources on the management of this type of hive.

Thanks,

Rhys.
 
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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I haven't used one, but they're really similar to Warré hives. really the only part missing is the top bars, which aren't difficult to make. the importance of the top bars really depends on how you plan to manage your hives, though. the way I do it, top bars aren't really necessary and might contribute to what's sometimes called "false floor syndrome." basically, a colony with plenty of room to expand swarms when they encounter top bars as they're building downward. having one long uninterrupted cavity (as in the Japanese design) might, therefore, make early swarming less likely.

skipping top bars would make harvesting slightly trickier, and pretty much rule out taking individual combs out separately: you'll have to take whole boxes instead. that's the way I do it anyway, but I do sort of like the top bars there for support. decreases the chance that the comb will all just fall apart when you take a box off. the Japanese hives do use a mid-box support that may be enough to prevent collapse, but also complicates harvest a little bit.

one other thing to keep in mind is that many (maybe all?) traditional beekeepers in Japan are still using Apies cerana instead of A. mellifera. I won't claim to know what that means for the hive that's most suitable for each species in any particular climate, but it's something to consider. those two species do have fairly different proclivities, strengths, and vulnerabilities.

my advice would be to try both Warré and the Japanese design and see which works best for the bees and you. they're effectively identical apart from the top bars. if you can do the Japanese one, you can do a Warré. if you've got some of both and you decide you like one style better than the other sometime down the road, it will be really easy to switch them all to the style you prefer.
 
pollinator
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Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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One comment that might throw a monkey wrench in this.  In WY at least and most likely elsewhere the hives must be "inspectable" and any hive you have to cut apart doesn't meet this for most inspectors.
 
pollinator
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I'm pretty sure that the Japanese hives are for a different species of honey bee, which doesn't exist in the west. Smaller, with smaller colonies and different behavioural traits.
 
pollinator
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Michael Cox wrote:I'm pretty sure that the Japanese hives are for a different species of honey bee, which doesn't exist in the west.



I think that you are correct. This is why there is a problem with the Asian Hornet too - the Japanese bees know how to combat them but western (Italian) bees do not.

Here it's common to see "British National" hives which are a relatively simple construction. You can buy them flat-packed for a reasonable price too.
 
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Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
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The Apis Cerana (Asian Honeybee) likes to build their combs in closed spaces like hollow trees and any like that.

Beekeepers here in Thailand use a kind of Langstroth beehive without top super for the reason that the bees in tropical climate rather like to stay below and never move up.
That why so many gets disappointed here with their Honeyflow hives.
Literally there comes only hot air and dead bees when they turn the handle and expect the glass to fill.

The European bee Apis melifera is used here with mesh wire shields to keep the hornets off but the price is that they returning bees keep their heads attached but lose their pollen.
Also is the Japanese been less productive (up to 3-5 times)

The only advantage is the Jap Soldier Bee retreat and lure the Scout hornet into the hive, then sacrifice one bee to block their mouth, as soon the hornet grabs one all others build a ball around the hornet and start vibrating to heat up. The bees can take just 3 degrees more than the hornet but that is enough to cook the hornet to death.

For our honeybees and your building skills I would recommend to think of a Kenian Beehive or if you don't want to build angles and stay square go for the Tanzanian Beehive.
You can only extend them to a limited way by put an end wall in and move it further to the end of the box putting more frames in.
I have made some drawings as I will go for them next year.
Top-bar-hive-20-frames.jpg
Kenyan beehive
Kenyan beehive
Tanzanian-Beehive.png
Tanzanian beehive
Tanzanian beehive
 
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