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D & M: Hive types

 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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What are the different hive types? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Is there one type that is better for a beginner?
 
Matt Fearnow
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There are many different types of hives. The traditional "American" hive that folks think about is called a Langstroth Hive. There is the Warre Hive. And also Top Bar Hive aka as Kenyan. I'm sure there are many others that I am missing. The style of hive depends upon your style. As David puts in his book, there are 4 attitudes of bee keeping and there can even be a blend.

I know that this doesn't help answer your question directly. I'm new this year myself, but in research I was going to start with the TBH, but after reading I decided to go with Warre hives.
HTH
Matt
 
David Heaf
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There are hundreds if not thousands of hive types. Eva Crane's book 'The History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting' is worth a read for all the different hive types. Here is one I am trying out at the moment:

http://www.dheaf.plus.com/warrebeekeeping/ruche_sauvage_heaf.htm .

It's a hybrid between the traditional skep which goas back to at least Saxon times, and a log hive, only the log part has been simulated by something like barrel technology. Skeps and log hives are still in use in various parts of the world today.

In my bookthere is a photo of a commercial skep beekeeping enterprise in Holland.
 
Socrates Raramuri
Posts: 59
Location: The Hague; Morocco asap
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Perone

Rose Hive [books / website]

Top Bar / Kenyan

Horizontal log

Flow Hive [order / website]

Hex Hive [website]

Warre

So many hours of watching and reviewing... pfff TMI!
I'm still in research phase but so far i'm most impressed by the Perone, Hex, and Flow Hive. With so many types to choose from i guess a consensus is impossible. A lot of people must wind up with some kind of hybrid, especially in this age of choice and discovery.
This Flow Hive has me thinking, though. Main downside: you have to buy the parts, you can't make them. Upsides: honey straight from the comb without fuss, no protective suit to tap, harvest in minutes. I've seen some of the haters but can still see the value of the system. To be fair, though, some of the haters also gave pointers how the Flow Hive might work (better).

I'm getting the impression that the choice of hive type also strongly depends on what zone you'd like your hive in, i.e. are you prepared to put a lot of time and attention into it or is beekeeping more something you see as a bi-annual affair (and everything in between)? And what about just trying a bunch of types out and seeing what works best for you(r situation)? Then you sell the one(s) you didn't like.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Socrates; I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Advising people buy multiple systems to choose between them is unhelpful. I am currently running all langstroth hives (9 of them) and the compatibility of equipment is vital. I can split hives, move frames of honey or brood between colonies, raise my own queens etc... Compatible equipment makes management a doddle, while different formats and frame sizes makes huge headaches.

I plan to be totally treatment free in my apiaries and the fastest way to achieve this is to out breed the bugs... You raise multiple colonies/queens and breed from those which survive the winter. Over a summer I can probably make 6 splits from a colony, which gives me far more rolls of the genetic lottery regarding disease resistance. Even with conventional Lang equipment I can still go foundationless, treatment free, feed free etc... As these are all management practices rather than based on equipment choices.

Perone hives are big, but still only have one crack at the genetic lottery. They don't seem to give better winter survivablilty. Perone hives are illegal in many parts of the world as movable comb is required for disease inspections. Where I am these large hives do not appear to convey an advantage.

I've tried a top bar hive - I liked it, but it is slower to inspect and manage than a Lang, so doesn't scale well with the number of colonies. They also require micromanaging so that they build their comb correctly, where movable frames once drawn out can be put in a hive with no problems.

The hex hive looks like a horrible mishmash between a Perone and a Lang. The video you linked to has a hive with many problems. It is part fixed and part movable comb... You can't inspect the fixed comb which means if you must find a queen (let's say she is aggressive and needs to be squished) she has plenty of hiding space that you can't access without cutting comb. You can't manage queen cell production, so you cannot reliably raise your own queens from desirable stock and you cannot manage swarming etc...

It also has a flaw where the frame rests are - beneath the rests is a gap which does not respect bee space. The bees will plug this with wax and you will be unable to withdraw the frames.

Personally, I would recommend beginners stick with one system based on movable frames that is basically conventional in their area. I'd also stick with one frame size (eg all mediums, or all deeps). That way you are compatible which allows all the conventional beekeeping manipulation so should you choose to do them, but you can also do any and all of the less conventional strategies - treatment free, foundationless, rapid-expansion-model, etc... And with what ever system you use also get yourself a bunch of nuc boxes so you can raise your own replacement bees to keep up with losses.
 
Ernie Schmidt
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Location: Olympia, Washington
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What is the best type of hive to get or what are the advantages and disadvantages of each hive isn’t really the questions to ask. The real question to ask is, what do you as a potential keeper want bees for? Clarify what the keeper’s intentions for keeping bees are. Comparing advantages and disadvantages of hive styles usually becomes a (sometimes heated) debate over personal preferences and needs of the keeper. It becomes a hollow argument when keepers of different keeping styles compare hive styles. A naturalist keeper running backyard Top Bar hives may have clear different personal intentions for their bees then someone running a commercial Langstroth hive pollination service. Between the two of them there will be advantages to the style they use and disadvantages to the hive style they don’t, because of their personal relationships to their bees.
 
Socrates Raramuri
Posts: 59
Location: The Hague; Morocco asap
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Thanks, Ernie.
What i'd like to see from my hives is:
- honey
- kind for the bees
- if at all possible, without having to use those suits (i.e. easy-going bees or me knowing how to keep them easy-going)
- i am not interested in a lot of work

Having researched the value of hive products, i'm not only interested in making mead [which i've been doing for some time now], but i'd like to try the old-fashioned way of just throwing in whole chunks of hive and letting it ferment. So i need my own hives for that, for good quality honey, and for affordable honey. I do have a lot more on my plate and am not looking for a career as beekeeper.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Socrates Raramuri wrote:
What i'd like to see from my hives is:
- honey
- kind for the bees
- if at all possible, without having to use those suits (i.e. easy-going bees or me knowing how to keep them easy-going)
- i am not interested in a lot of work

Having researched the value of hive products, i'm not only interested in making mead [which i've been doing for some time now], but i'd like to try the old-fashioned way of just throwing in whole chunks of hive and letting it ferment. So i need my own hives for that, for good quality honey, and for affordable honey. I do have a lot more on my plate and am not looking for a career as beekeeper.


All hive types yield honey. If you want to keep the cost and volumes small then foundationless and crush-and-strain methods will work well. Any hive type will let you do this.

"Kind for the bees" is again about management styles and not about hive types, but it is also a matter for some debate. Some beekeepers view medication and feeding regimens as "kind" as without them their bees die. Others view treatment free and letting them sort it out themselves as "kind" because it leads to bees with better genetics.

Suits - I have 9 hives. Three of them I am happy opening without a suit. Two of them I won't even stand near without a suit on, and when I inspect them they follow me for 100m plus and for over 10 minutes. I have requeened, but you cannot expect to start beekeeping without some issues with hot hives.

Work - again this is about management style. With a langstroth I can do a hive inspection in 5 minutes or less; pop the lid to get a feel for the number of bees, lift the super boxes to get a feel for the weight of stores, pull some brood comb to see if there is brood in all stages (indicating a healthy laying queen), close up again. A novice looking at the same hive might take an hour inspecting each and every frame.
 
Socrates Raramuri
Posts: 59
Location: The Hague; Morocco asap
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Thanks, Michael.
I've been hearing about 'hot hives'. I imagine i'd just chuck it in pot of water and brew it so i can use the hive again and hope for a more easy-going population.
I've read a book and watched tons of YouTube vids but i'm still not sure what to do with queens, good or bad. I'll do more research.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Requeening a hot hive can be simple.

Squash the old queen.
Wait 4 days.
Go through the hive and remove ALL the queen cells they have started to make.
Add a frame with eggs and larvae from a hive with gentle bees. They will use the eggs to make a new queen who will start laying in about a month.

The temperament will change after about 3 months once the old queen's workers die off.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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aggressive bees sometimes have an advantage over more docile colonies, particularly if predation is a serious issue. a "hot" hive is only a problem for the beekeeper if she or he wants to get into the hive frequently.

I currently have one fairly disagreeable colony. I don't sit next to that one to watch entrance behavior quite as frequently as I do others. no need to squash any queens, et cetera, though. I think this gets back to Ernie's point above: it depends what the beekeeper's after.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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tel jetson wrote:aggressive bees sometimes have an advantage over more docile colonies, particularly if predation is a serious issue. a "hot" hive is only a problem for the beekeeper if she or he wants to get into the hive frequently.

I currently have one fairly disagreeable colony. I don't sit next to that one to watch entrance behavior quite as frequently as I do others. no need to squash any queens, et cetera, though. I think this gets back to Ernie's point above: it depends what the beekeeper's after.


Actually there are quite a few reasons why hot hives are not great to keep around, not just for the purposes of inspection:

If you need to work in the area - cutting grass, tending other plants etc... aggressive bees from a hot hive can get easily riled.

If the hives are in any way "public" - mine are in a garden on school property. Most hives I would happily open without a suit, one hive has bees that will attack unprovoked within about 20m of the hive. If the public can get access to the area via a passing footpath (even on the other side of the hedge etc...) then I suggest you have an obligation to requeen them.

Education - I use my hives for teaching and take novices to them. I need nice docile bees so they don't get freaked out.

In my circumstances I feed duty bound to keep gentle bees - yours conditions may vary.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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Michael Cox wrote:
Actually there are quite a few reasons why hot hives are not great to keep around, not just for the purposes of inspection:

If you need to work in the area - cutting grass, tending other plants etc... aggressive bees from a hot hive can get easily riled.


sure. I think this has come up before: some folks have more room than others. for myself, if my only options for hive placement were heavily trafficked, I might reconsider keeping bees at all. I have found, though, that even aggressive hives aren't an issue if they're elevated somewhat so that their flight path isn't encroached on by folks doing chores.

Michael Cox wrote:If the hives are in any way "public" - mine are in a garden on school property. Most hives I would happily open without a suit, one hive has bees that will attack unprovoked within about 20m of the hive. If the public can get access to the area via a passing footpath (even on the other side of the hedge etc...) then I suggest you have an obligation to requeen them.


nah. maybe an obligation to rectify the issue, though. I would just move the colony. but then, I sort of like aggressive bees. or maybe I just like bees whether they're aggressive or not.

Michael Cox wrote:Education - I use my hives for teaching and take novices to them. I need nice docile bees so they don't get freaked out.


I would guess that my educational endeavors look rather different than yours.

in reality, I very rarely have to deal with aggressive colonies. some have started out a bit ornery when they first show up, but they all seem to settle down after being left alone for a while. even the nasty colony I mentioned above has become much milder recently. I'm not willing to state a universal truth about this, as the number of colonies I've dealt with is still under a hundred, but leave-it-alone management seems to agree with the bees I'm responsible for.
 
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