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Customizations For Warre or Kenyan Top Bar Hives?

 
Emily Cressey
Posts: 45
Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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Hi Jacqueline,

I love your posts and videos with Paul. Thanks for visiting Permies this week!

I am in the process of building my first two bee hives. One is a Warre and one is a Kenyan Top Bar. I am excited to see how they work and what the differences are.

I had a question about modifications/customizations - specifically - are there any you recommend?

My plans include:

1) Deep Litter Trough: I decided to go with the "DEEP LITTER METHOD" on my KTBH and have made a bottom "trough" type box that attaches to the bottom. I think it was Phil Chandler who recommended this, and I saw your post about it on my other thread discussing this specifically. He mentioned in a follow-up that this trough debris tended to get fairly dry (and he is in a wet climate). I was wondering if you had any recommendations on how to manage this area - I want it to be a healthy part of the hive environment. I am planning to fill it with debris like leaves and woodchips.

I am also reading the Warre Hives book and saw some discussion in that about different styles of bottom/base for the Warres - such as ones with a removable back panel so you could sweep out debris (like dead bees) from the bottom of the hive. Is this something you would recommend? Have you ever tried a large empty box at the bottom of the hive to do some "deep litter" in a warre box as well?

2) I am putting windows on all my hives so I can observe them.

3) Do you have any finishes you recommend? I am in a wet climate (Seattle) and don't have a bee hut. I am planning to put one hive on the south side of my house, close to the building/possibly under the eaves for some protection, and the other hive out in my flower garden. I want to preserve the hives without compromising the bee health/environment. What are your opinions about paint/oil/charring, etc. to preserve the hive?

Any other building changes/modifications that you think work well?


Thanks!

Emily
 
Jacqueline Freeman
instructor
Posts: 83
Location: southwest Washington state
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1) Deep Litter Trough
<<this trough debris tended to get fairly dry (and he is in a wet climate). I was wondering if you had any recommendations on how to manage this area - I want it to be a healthy part of the hive environment. I am planning to fill it with debris like leaves and woodchips>>

I agree it is part of a healthy hive and note that all my tree hives are invested in having a "sump" at the bottom. When I get tree hives, I make sure I include the sump as part of the entire hollow. I've looked closely at this hive debris at the bottom and it's full of life forms. I don't have sumps under all my other hives but I am considering doing this. Still working it out but I'd say I'm heavily leaning that way.

<<I am also reading the Warre Hives book and saw some discussion in that about different styles of bottom/base for the Warres - such as ones with a removable back panel so you could sweep out debris (like dead bees) from the bottom of the hive. Is this something you would recommend? Have you ever tried a large empty box at the bottom of the hive to do some "deep litter" in a warre box as well? >>

I had a screened tray under a few warres years ago, when people were trying the idea of letting mites fallaway down below the screen and then they couldn't climb back up. But what I noticed is that the fallaway couldn't be cleaned and it was so close to the combs above, I think that made them nervous. If the fallaway was further down, I think it would be better. Somewhere bees could access. That leaves them with choice about if they want to visit the sump area or not.

<< I am putting windows on all my hives so I can observe them. >>

You'll love that. I like seeing inside and find it particularly useful to know when I'm feeding a winter hive if the honey dish is empty or not. No need to open a hive if it's not empty yet. I'm also judicious about only opening it infrequently and for short times. If they are quiet in the cold, I don't like to introduce light into their dark winter bedroom. In summer I'm not as cautious.

<<o you have any finishes you recommend? I am in a wet climate (Seattle) and don't have a bee hut. I am planning to put one hive on the south side of my house, close to the building/possibly under the eaves for some protection, and the other hive out in my flower garden. I want to preserve the hives without compromising the bee health/environment. What are your opinions about paint/oil/charring, etc. to preserve the hive?>>

I'm in Washington's wet zone, too. I don't put anything on my hives (though I sometimes do drawings with colored wax on them). I do keep them under cover. Not enclosed (they need ventilation around the hive as well). I have a roof on that's wider by 12-18" so a straight rain won't let the hive get wet. We don't have many blow-y rains but even so, if that's only an occasional thing, the hive would be able to dry out well in between.

<<Any other building changes/modifications that you think work well? >>

I'm fond of top bars that use the Golden Mean measurements but that may be more on principle than practicality. I am a strong supporter of having ALL hives and entrances at least 36" off the ground so the cold and damp vapors don't affect the hive. In the wild bees rarely have homes with entrances so low to the ground. I think my lowest hive entrance is probably closer to 4 1/2 feet and some are really high (one is on a roof deck, another is at the top of the second floor chimney). The hives we build this year will be even higher.

How, you might ask, do we care for those hives? I have benches I stand on that get me a few feet up so I'm at a more convenient height. That way I'm at a more comfy level to open the boxes. A few of my hives sit on a picnic table and I can climb on top of that to work with those hives, too. I know it sound strange but it's really simpler than it sounds.

Jacqueline
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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