April 7, 2015

My First Beehive

Starting our first hive of honeybees was on our goal list this year. This venture was not totally foreign to me, because I had a hive of bees a number of years ago. Sadly I had to move before I ever harvested any honey, so my experience was extremely limited. As I began to do my honeybee homework this time, I started to run across the term "natural beekeeping." How could I not help but follow up on that?

I showed you the kit in my "Around The
Homestead" post. Here it is assembled.
Long story short, I learned about top bar hives, starting with an article entitled "Less Invasive Beekeeping", and then "The Best Bee Hive." Perhaps it was because the Warré hive is the most hands-off and least invasive, perhaps because it is most economical, or because it has a smaller footprint than the common Langstroth hive. Or maybe it was because I liked the pagoda-like look of it. Anyway, I chose to get a Warré hive.

This particular design was developed by Frenchman Abbé Emile Warré in the first half of the 20th century. In a nutshell, Warré thought that beekeeping should accommodate the bees, rather than requiring the bees accommodate the beekeeper. His hive design was based on observations made during his several decades of keeping them. He called it the Peoples' Hive, because he thought beekeeping ought to be economical enough for everyone to do. This meant a hive design that was simple and affordable to build, even for the average person. All of this appealed to me tremendously, so I'm going to give it a go!

Economical is somewhat relative, of course. The plans are included in Warré's book Beekeeping For All and could be made out of scrap lumber. The English translation of the book is available as a free download here (at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar), or as a not free paperback here. For those not inclined to build, beautifully finished complete hives are available for a lot of $$. For my first hive I chose the middle path and bought a kit.

Here are some close-ups of the parts of this hive.

Pre-assembled bottom boards included solid or screened. Because of our
 hot summers I chose the screened bottom to allow for better ventilation.

A piece of plywood cut to fit was included, although no explanation was
given as to it's purpose (it isn't included in the original plans). Perhaps to
close off the bottom during winter or do Varroa mite counts? I don't know.

At 300 mm by 300 mm, the hive bodies are said to mimic the inside
of a hollow tree. The "grooves" in the side are where the top bars go.

They are called top bar hives because there are no frames & no foundation
for the comb, only bars set in  place at the top of each box. Melted bees
wax is applied to the ridge of each bar & the bees draw their own comb.

A square of fiberglass window screening goes on top of the top box. This
didn't come with my kit nor is it mentioned in Warré's book, but I picked
up the idea from watching a couple of videos. It prevents the bees from
propolizing  (bee gluing) and and chewing through the quilt (below).

The quilt box is next and is for insulation.
I'll show you details about it soon.

The roof section fits over and conceals the quilt box. It has two vents.

Eaves vent

Ridge vent

The stackable hive boxes are all the same size. Two are usually used for overwintering. In the spring, when things start blooming, more boxes are added to the bottom of the hive (called nadiring) rather than the top (supering). This accommodates the natural downward movement of the queen as the bees build more comb and she lays brood. As the brood hatches and leaves empty comb behind, the bees fill it with honey. All (or most) of the honey is in the top boxes, which is where harvest takes place, simply removing the top hive box. Theoretically, it is possible to prevent swarming because the bees never run out of room(!) No queen excluder is required because the beekeeper knows that the queen and brood are in the bottom boxes. Bee escapes (one way bee doors) can be added prior to harvest if desired, although opening the hive frequently is discouraged. The idea is to retain the warmth and scent of the hive (called Nestduftwarmebindung). On occasion, when the nectar flow is heavy, boxes may be supered by adding them to the top.

So say the books! It's all head knowledge to me at this point, but stay tuned as I drag you through my learning process in upcoming posts. No guarantees of success, but I'm gonna give it my best try.

Continued - Getting Ready For My Bees

48 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

A full screened bottom board is not really about ventilation as bees like it hot. What it is really for is for treating mites. If you get a high mite count just pull out the plywood insert and sprinkle powdered sugar on the bees. They will clean each other off including mites which will drop down through the screen onto the ground.

Many screened bottom users have noticed a marked decrease in comb building from too much ventilation so I pretty much leave my bottom boards closed unless I get a high mite count or the temps stay above about 105 degrees for more than a few days.

Bees like to build down if it is available but I have removed enough from inside walls to figure out they start building within about 6 inches from the entrance. They will build down if they can but will just as readily build up to when they have no choice. They go up about 6 inches above the old comb and start building down from there. Generally speaking the queen lays in the upper part of the hive during cool weather and moves down as it get's hot.

Nothing against top bar users but to me it seems the biggest resource drain on a hive is always building comb so I really appreciate having drawn foundation frames to harvest from so the bees don't lose all those resources making new surplus comb. For the brood chambers it doesn't matter though as I never harvest from them so once built it remains intact.

You might try what I call the best of both worlds though. If your hive will take standard frame sizes instead of putting in simple top bars try putting in small frames in a brood chamber. It allows the bees to make the natural cell configuration under the frames kinda making half top bar frames. It also keeps the bees from making diagonal or double wide comb in the box.

Enjoy your bees and good luck. I find them amazing to work with.

Harry Flashman said...

I was going to say if you run into practical problems you could go to Pioneer Preppy's site, as he knows a lot about bee keeping. However, I see you are already in touch which is good. I wish you well with the project, a source of honey would be excellent. It's got lots of uses and you could trade it for about anything you wanted in hard times.

Leigh said...

PP, as Harry said, I know you to be an excellent source of beekeeping information as your comment readily proves! There is nothing like experiential observations for that knowledge. You've answered some questions that I've had and am thankful for that. I've read these hives are not best for top production, so wax building must be why. There are Warré frames, but that's not something I've seen a lot of information on yet. I have read many a frustrated blog post about those randomly built combs, however! As with all things I figure experience is the best teacher and here;s my start.

Harry, honey is one of the two sweeteners I can conceivably produce for myself, well, maybe three. Sorghum syrup is a definitely possibility if I can ever manage the equipment, also possibly beet sugar, which I've done no research on, although I have grown sugar beets to feed the goats.

Lynda D said...

Since i know nothing about bee keeping ill just be really dumb and say i like your hive style. It looks substantial and pretty. Certainly a solid hive structure that wont blow over in the wind. Is it goat proof?

Leigh said...

Lynda, I would not trust a goat anywhere near a beehive!!! I read these are pretty heavy when full, but some folks with high wind problems strap them down. I've got a spot picked out where it will get shade and protection from strong winds (nowhere near the goats, I might add, LOL).

Quinn said...

I'll be watching with interest, but strictly as a spectator - beekeeping is one thing (like rockclimbing and downhill skiing) that I have never felt the urge to try. I do my best to feed the bees that visit my place, but I buy my honey from several small producers in my area.
Do you have bears, Leigh? A friend had to put up quite a powerful electric fence around his hives to discourage bears.

Leigh said...

Quinn, I'm told we used to have black bears, but then, we were also told we used to have coyotes. We have spotted coyotes ourselves, but no one has reported a bear in a long time. Taking all that into consideration, I would definitely never say that we don't have bears. Probably unlikely, because we're built up into a rural suburbia with acreage for yards but with lots of homes and fences. If they do re-enter the area and can cross fences, then they'll have a few to negotiate to get to where we plan to keep our hives.

DFW said...

Looking forward to hear about your success in this endeavor. Very interesting!

deborah harvey said...

hi. most interested. have wanted bees and have joined beekeeping groups and taken their courses in beekeeping.
asked president to do presentation on those long african hives. he said he knew nothing about them. end of story.
i never heard of the warre and it looks like the supers are lighter, which is why i was interested in the african hives. i cannot haul 30 pounds much less 60 so am interested in a smaller type hive.
most interested to watch your progress.


Ed said...

Congratulations on the bees... again! My parents got into the hobby when I was about eight years old with a couple hives. About ten years later they had 120 hives and were selling their honey all over a 100 mile radius. Good times.

Being they were into retail, they had Langstroth hives so I don't know much about the Warre hives. The one part that confuses me is that you mention that there is supposed to be less hive disturbance in maintaining them and yet you have to add new boxes to the bottom. This seems to me like you would have to completely disassemble the hive every time you have to add a box. Maybe I'm reading into that wrong and you can enlighten me.

I miss having bees though and my own personal supply of honey, especially after seeing a report on what foreign countries are doing to remove all pollen from their honey imported into the US so we can't trace its origins. Fortunately I have a few local beekeepers that I can get honey from.

the Goodwife said...

I'm very interested to watch/read about your progress! I buy local honey right now, some from a gentleman who actually keeps some of his hives at our neighbor's place, and some from a local Mennonite who sells comb honey which is my favorite. I also buy Amish made sorghum and am very thankful to have a local source of both.

Thats My Cuppa Tea said...

I am also interested in bees. I don't keep any YET, but my time will come. My brother sent me a link about two gentlemen in Australia that have invented a type of frame for the Langstroth hive that allows you to harvest honey without removing the frames. It is probably going to revolutionize beekeeping the way changing over from skeps did way back in the day. Well almost as much. =)
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive
They have obviously generated a lot of interest.

Leigh said...

Deb, thanks! I hope I always have good things to report.

Deborah, hello! Of African hives are you referring to the ones that look like benches? I've heard them called top bar or Kenyan hives. I too asked about them from a member of the county beekeepers' association but got an extremely negative response.

Regarding the weight of the Warré hive boxes, I read that each box can weigh around 40 lbs when full of comb and honey. If you research it, you'll find quite a few ingenious ideas for hive lifts, but you'd still have to get the full box to wherever you wanted to process it.

Ed, that's a lot of hives! But it can be an excellent business.

Interesting about the pollen removal. About 10 years ago I attended a beekeeping workshop where we were advised not to purchase South American honey. Seems honey for export is gathered from heavily sprayed fields. They don't allow that for the honey they consume themselves, only what they export to the US. After hearing that I always bought local.

Goodwife, it's lovely to have local resources. I'd love to be able to get sorghum syrup, but it's not common here and so very expensive. A press wouldn't be cheap either! But it's still a possibility.

That's My Cuppa Tea, I've seen that! Very, very interesting and disappointing there is nothing comparable in the US, because I can't imagine what shipping from AU would be!

Thats My Cuppa Tea said...

Actually, I believe a lot of the interest in the Flow Hives is from the U.S. I really do believe I will invest in them when I am ready to keep bees. Though the researcher in me would like to talk to someone (or several someones) who has used it before I commit to it. I am also very interested to see how your hive works out.

PioneerPreppy said...

Top bar or Kenyan hives were very popular with small scale bee keepers a few years back. They are relatively easy to make but kinda a bear to manage at first because you cannot allow the bees to have the entire hive but must move a divider as they grow. The hives don't get as big as they can with Langstroth hives but everything is horizontal so height isn't an issue. The other real problem management-wise is that the bees rarely cooperate and build straight comb but usually go diagonal. As I said a real bear to get started and then of course you lose so much comb when/if you harvest off one.

The internal hive harvesting system looks intriguing. The first video I saw of it showed them harvesting honey out of a tube that went into an open jar. I laughed when I saw it because anyone with even three hives knows if you have an open jar of honey in your bee yard it will be nothing but a mass of robbing bees and they will more than likely be taking the honey faster than it comes out of that arrangement.

The second video showed a bit more detail and I noticed had closed honey jars. The frame basically is in two parts and you move a lever that breaks the wax comb on the inside and allows the honey to flow down thru a central reservoir then out a tube. Ingenious, but I wonder how it handles brood being laid in the frame cells. The brood or eggs would be squished in the process and so the honey would include liquified bee juices along with the good stuff. Unless you use a queen excluder brood in a surplus frame is somewhat common occurrence early in the season. You would still need to examine each frame before harvesting and would not have the use of a filter to remove bee and pest parts as the honey comes out.

Not to mention you would have to stand in your bee yard watching the flow out of the tube in your suit as well. It would save you the expense of buying an extractor and knife though.

Renee Nefe said...

a friend of mine has two hives (not like yours though). I've recommended your blog to him because he is interested in homesteading...even though we both live in the suburbs.
I would love to have our own hives, but hubby is allergic to bee stings so he thinks that a hive nearby would be bad. I think that since we get so many bees when the apple trees bloom and he hasn't been stung yet he should be fine. ah well.

Leigh said...

Thats My Cuppa Tea, I do think you're correct about the interest in the Flow Hive here. Do see PioneerPreppy's comment below. He's an experienced beekeeper with lots of good information.

PP, I hadn't thought about eggs and brood but that's a good point. When I first saw the hive and videos, I wondered if there would be a way to incorporate something like that in an observation hive. Probably not, but we finally decided to put our future greenhouse off of my studio. I've been thinking lately it would be fun to have an observation hive there like the ones at various nature centers. I couldn't imagine how to harvest honey from such a hive until I saw the honey flow idea. Harvest honey from the comfort of my own house! Probably not very realistic but a fun idea.

Renee, folks allergic to bees really do fear them and understandably so. At least you have pollination going on! I actually see very few honeybees around here and often have poor pollination. That's a huge reason for getting the bees.

DebbieB said...

Leigh, I'm excited to watch the progress of your new beekeeping adventure! Pollination + honey. Wonderful!

Leah said...

Oh I can't wait to watch the development of the hives! That is my next big project next summer! I look forward to your future posts!

Chris said...

You made an excellent choice in hives. I've heard good things about them, as they create less stress on the bees, not having the box opened all the time and harvesting only once a year.

In your neck of the woods, bees are having such a hard time and they need all the help they can get.

In the interests of sharing information, I thought I'd link to an article which discusses the hi-flow extractor:

http://www.milkwood.net/2015/02/26/going-flow-flow-hive-actually-good-idea/

The author doesn't favour their design and copped some slack for demoting a small business, but in the interests of knowing what you could be getting into (especially if you have to import) its wise to consider all aspects of the design and evaluate if its something for you.

I personally don't know enough about bees either way to make any recommendations - but I've heard the hive you purchased requires less interference from the beekeeper, so less stress on the bees.

I hope you have fun and success with bees this year. :)

The Weekend Homesteader said...

I use Langstroth, but that is what I was taught to use and what I invested my money in to begin with. It's also the method that most beekeepers near me use so I have a valuable knowledge base to draw from. But I've been interest in top bar hives for a few years so I'll look forward to your learning experience. I do know someone local who does top bar and he says you get more wax with top bar and more honey with Langstroth, only because the bees have to continually built comb in the top bar because when you harvest the honey you also harvest the comb. With langstroth you harvest the honey and put the framer with the pulled comb back in the hive. I've also been told the queen always moves up, so in the early spring, I flip my brood boxes because the cluster is always in the top brood box. I use my bottom board in the winter for insulation. I also dust my bees in the spring with powdered sugar for mites. I've read that giving them sugar water with mint essential oil is a good mite preventative so I do that as well, once at the end of winter before the nectar flow. Good luck!

The Weekend Homesteader said...

I'm also curious about adding boxes from the bottom? That seems like a major chore as the boxes, once they have comb and/or honey, are very heavy. If you already have a hive of say three boxes, I would think you would have to separate each one and restack them to get one on the bottom. I can't even lift a full honey super so I can't imagine lifting more than one to add to the bottom. I guess I'll learn as you learn and share.

Leigh said...

Debbie, thanks! Here' hoping for a successful establishment of my first hive.

Leah, that's great you're planning to get a hive next summer. This will be my initial learning year and I hope to add one of two more next summer. Fingers crossed for succhess!

Chris, thanks! I especially appreciate the link. A lot of folks are interested in the flow hive, but getting another opinion is a good way to truly start evaluating. (And just because someone is a small business doesn't mean they have a good product). I'm guessing someone will develop something similar here, but likely it will be quite expensive.

Candace my first hive, eons ago, was a Langstroth, but I'm interested in trying this one. I've read about quite a few failures, but there's no guarantee for success with any hive design. The less honey and more comb actually suits me well, since I use beeswax for my salves and lotions. Mainly I hope to be a good steward to my bees.

I appreciate your taking time to share. I've read about the mint essential oil as well and will have an upcoming post on it. I didn't know about the powdered sugar! So much to learn and the best way is from the experience of others.

Oh, and adding to the bottom. This is usually done in the spring when the boxes are fairly light. Two new boxes are added for the spring flow. If the nectar flow is heavy, a box may be added to the top. Also there are a number of designs for hive lifts out there, which some folks use. Check out YouTube if you have the time for Warré hive lifts. Some of them are quite amuzing!

Sarah said...

Congrats on the hive! Looking forward to hearing more about it!

3 Roosters and a Chick said...

Congrats on the hive! I too am getting my first bees this year, but I am going with the Langstroth hives. I've got 2 nucs coming the end of this month. I look forward to reading about your experience parallel to mine!

charlotte said...

Congratulations on your first hive! I'm looking forward to following this. Where I grew up, there were many farmers that also kept bees. Sometimes a hive would divide and half of the population would escape and settle on a tree in our garden. We then called a farmer and he would take them down into a basket and give them a new hive. Wish you the best of luck!

Erika Keller said...

Congratulations on the new hive! How did you like the kit? Was it easy to put together? I am eagerly awaiting more posts on your hive and bees.

Dawn McHugh said...

How exciting your first bee hive, I got into bee keeping about 5 years ago, I started with a national hive (uk measurement) the other year I got a couple of top bar hives and have with my nationals, during a really hard winter I lost the bees in the national hives but the ones in the top bars survived, I prefer the bees to draw there own comb.

Jacquelineand.... said...

I'll be following your beekeeping adventures with a great deal of interest, and wishing I could keep them myself!

Mark said...

Another interesting project! Bees are on my list a couple years out, so I'm starting my research now. I'll be interested to hear how it goes!

Jake said...

Wonderful post! I'm super excited to see how your bees do. May your queen be strong, your mites be not, and your honey be plentiful!

Crg said...

glad to see you dabbling in beekeeping. the book, shamanic Way of the Bee, really helped get me into a mindset for beekeeping. i have actually been offered an apprenticeship working with bees this year, started a couple weeks back. We are using langstroths, a top bar, and a warre-top bar combo somewhat like your own. We are natural beekeepers and biodynamic farmers with the intention of collecting honey second to the health and strength of the hive. the bee always comes first and the honey is its food. glad to read about others trying and planting the seed of following natrue's way in others minds.. these flow hives, along with frames are dangerous business for bees. Looking forward to sunhives in the fall time, the true way to raise bees. I hope just mentioning them encourages the path towards a harmonious sun hive for bees the world over.

Leigh said...

3 Roosters & a Chick, thanks! I've read that it's better to start with two. I hope you'll keep me apprised of how it goes for you.

Charlotte, thanks! You're talking about something down the road for me! But it would be great to eventually multiply my own hives.

Erika, yes, it was pretty easy to put together except that the pieces were off somewhat in size. So Dan wasn't impressed with the workmanship. Still, it was a little better than having to figure it all our for ourselves on the first hive.

Dawn, thank you for that bit. It's interesting to know how others are doing with their bees. Any particular reason you prefer the bees to draw their own comb?

Jacqueline, here's hoping for a good adventure. :)

Mark, bees certainly seem like a must have, don't they? It took us several years before we got to bees, but this is our year!

Jake, thank you! I absolutely love your bee blessing!

Crg, hello and welcome! I was recently reading about the sun hives, interesting you are heading in that direction. Our philosophy toward our animals is exactly the same. In fact I have a doe that kidded about a month ago, but I'm not milking her yet. She had quadruplets and it's more important that all those kids get fed than we get the milk. Our time will come once they're older and on a full time solid diet. Your apprenticeship opportunity sounds fantastic.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tour of your Warre hive and the links to more information. I used to keep bees when I was in High School and had 18 at one time. I started again a few years ago, and have not been having much luck as I now live 120 miles further north of where I grew up. I had two colonies the last few Winters, and I found that if I left all the stores on them, they could survive even the most brutal winter. I do want some honey though. I ran across a USDA publication here:

http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96591/m1/1/

That showed me just how much protection a hive needs in my neck of the woods. Wow, what an eye-opener. I haven't even come close to adequately protecting them! I will do better for them this next Winter.

I also was not aware of the supering from the bottom concept. I always thought bees preferred to move up. Learning a lot this morning.

I did bite on the Flow hive mentioned in a couple of the comments above. I bought seven frames. Figured I could chop up one of my own brood boxes to save on postage. Frames are due to arrive this Fall so it will be another year or so after before I can even comment on it. --RonC

Perry said...

Congrats on the new hive! Looks very nice.

We too started with bees this spring, but we went with the Langstroth design. We picked up the two nucs last week and so far so good. I will be very interested in how your hive design, bottom up, works out.

As some one already commented, we are planning to use frames with foundation for the bottom two deep supers to allow the bees a head start. Then when we add medium supers, we are thinking to use foundation-less frames so any honey we harvest, the wax can be harvested as well. I would be interested if you or anyone else has any input on that topic. Thanks!

Leigh said...

Ron, my apologies for not answering your comment sooner. I especially wanted to thank you for the link, very interesting and useful information. I will definitely take advantage of this when autumn arrives.

Bees are extremely fascinating. I'm just learning about the different methods and philosophies and am always interested in the experiences of others. Thanks for sharing. I hope you'll come back and tell about the flow hive method! That certainly sparked off a lot of interest.

Leigh said...

Hi Perry, hello and welcome! I will be interested in how your foundation-less frames do versus the ones with foundation. Most folks seem to think there is less honey to harvest if the bees have to draw their own combs, but the Warré books don't seem to agree.

The bees drawing their own comb was part of why I like the Warré hive. It's mostly a work-smarter-not-harder issue for me, because I won't have to buy foundation and install it in the frames. Plus I have plenty of uses for the beeswax, which is a huge plus. I'm also reading that there are some health benefits for the bees because there isn't the temptation to continually reuse comb - the oldest gets cycled out every couple of years. The bees appear to prefer new comb for raising baby bees, since given a choice, the queen lays in the new comb.

I'll be by for a return blog visit and will be interested in following your experiences.

Unknown said...

Actually, this post on the Warre hive may be a life changer for me. At first, I thought, "Why would she want to go with non-standard equipment and so limit her possibilities for success?" I did have the experience of loosing one of my hives this last winter due to me not taking off an empty super that I had put on the hive last summer. I realized my stupid mistake when I dissected the hive this spring. The bees had plenty of honey in the hive, but nothing directly overhead. I followed a couple of the links you provided and skimmed through "The People's Hive." It really made sense to me and I slapped together 5 Warre hives out of 2 by pine boards for about $300 (four boxes each hive). I bought a 3# package of bees and installed it in one of my new hives. I also bought two queens so I could split my remaining hive. By a stroke of poor management (and dumb luck), I ended up finding it easier to keep the old queen and split the hive three ways. It is going to be a stretch getting those three hives ready for Winter, but I am prepared to feed them in August if necessary. I made three transition boards to adapt my old Langstroth equipment to my new Warre hives. The bees are starting to move down into my new hives. They should really start expanding in the next week or so as the new queens have been in the hives for about a month now.

As for the Flow hive equipment, I am on the fence about cancelling the order, or going ahead and getting it. The Warre management system suits me perfectly. The Flow hive super could be placed on top of a Warre during a good honey flow, but it may end up being more trouble than it is worth. the $600+ would buy a window and part of another for the farmhouse project the wife and I took on three years back. RonC

Leigh said...

Ron, thank you for sharing that with me! It's very exciting to feel like a part of someone else's experience. Have you joined the Warrebeekeeping Yahoo group? That's one of the best resources for questions, answers, and information, although it sounds like you're off to a great start.

I hear you about the Flow hive equipment. It sound fascinating but it's a lot of money. I'm guessing most of it is shipping!

Unknown said...

The shipping was pretty reasonable. $60 or so for enough frames to fill a standard Langstroth super. The frames were over $600 though. I declined the super to save on shipping. Yes, I did join the Warrebeekeeping group. Just lurking and learning though. I built all my equipment from the plans here: Except that I built the boxes out of 2 by 10's so I had to do some math as I went. I also built 5 Hivetop feeders based upon the pictures at Used scrap 2 by 4's and some 1/8" plywood paneling. Calking and polyurethane to seal up the reservoir. Works slick. I like that I do not have to suit up to feed the bees and the bees can gobble up the syrup quickly. RonC

Leigh said...

Being able to build your own equipment is a huge plus. Since I've started working with the Warré system I've decided to get a metric tape measure, LOL

Unknown said...

This comment is going to be buried out of most people's sight, but I think you get updated when someone comments anywhere on your site and I figure this is the best way to pass along a book tip.

I am currently reading "Keeping Bees With a Smile" by Fedor Lazutin. It is the best beekeeping book I have ever read. It is an easy to read 400 page book. He uses a deep frame horizontal hive. You'll want to Google "Layens Hive". Google Translate is your friend here as many of the sites will be foreign. Basically, you'll want to build a hive like the one presented in Lazutin's book except with 13" wide by 16" tall frames. Lazutin kept European Black bees which are not available here in the US. They build up faster in the Spring and thus need a larger hive. They are also very aggressive much like Africanized Honey Bees. Other than hive size, all of the management concepts and hive layout from Lazutin's book apply to our bees as well.

A good web site for you to reference

http://www.horizontalhive.com/

Look at the Lazutin Hive under the free plans.

I corresponded briefly with Dr Leo Sharashkin and he said that he would have plans for the Layens hive frames, and the hive as well. He also has a translation of Layen's book in the works as well and plans to have it out in the Spring.

I built 5 Warre hives last Spring after reading this blog entry of yours. I was going to build 10 more this Winter, but I think I may only build 5 more and then built a few Layens type hives in the Spring when plans are available. They look like a better way to go. The Warre is a good hive, but I think our nectar flow is shorter and more intense than where Warre developed his hive and I will have to super and nader my hives to get the full potential out of them and then I am back almost to conventional beekeeping except with smaller hives. I will borrow the quilt and cover cloth concept for my Layens hives though. Even Lazutin uses them.

I want to thank you again for writing this blog entry in particular which got me looking at alternative hive designs. I've wanted to start a sideline beekeeping business, but have never been able to figure out how to take the hard labour out of the picture until now.

Anyhow, get the book. You will not regret it.

Sincerely:

RonC

Leigh said...

Hi Ron, good to hear from you! What an interesting hive. My first impression was, "It's huge!" From reading through the book excerpts on the website it seems that this style of hive is especially good news for folks in short summer regions. I'm blessed with long summers, but the approach to natural versus industrial beekeeping is right up my alley! I will definitely have to research more. I would love to know how this works for you, so do keep in touch.

Unknown said...

The length and depth of the Layens hive frame is only slightly larger than two combs from a Warre Hive. In fact, a Layens hive is about the equivalent of 6 Warre boxes stacked three wide and two high. You already have 5 boxes for your Warre and you should need them all. The Layens hive also has at least one follower board which is a solid frame sized board that you use to decrease the overall volume your bees are allowed to occupy. They overwinter in the equivalent of a 2 box Warre hive.

Harvesting honey is done in the fall after the bees have formed their winter cluster. You merely remove all the frames from one side of the hive until you encounter pollen and then put that frame back. Repeat on the other end of the hive if your cluster is in the middle of the hive. The honey you remove has already been abandoned by the bees and they won't be able to utilize it anyways so you can swipe it with a clean conscience. You would keep a burlap cover over the frames like what is done in a Warre hive so you wouldn't be letting the heat out of the hive. There is no heavy lifting involved so you could keep bees hopefully well into your 80's.

The only other reminder question I have: Do you have at least one swarm trap hive ready for next Spring? I built three of these:

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

The hope is that I can catch most of my swarms and simply transfer them to Warre hives. If I am inattentive, there should be no lost comb as the top bars would transfer to the Warre hive. The only change I made was to put the entrance on the bottom of the hive (1" dia hole) and used a metal electrical J-box cover screwed down on one corner so that it can be pivoted over the entrance. A 1/2" mesh centered on the entrance should keep it from turning into a bird house.

Now, I will not interrupt further so you can get back to Critter Tales. I'm looking forward to it.

RonC

Leigh said...

Horizontal hives certainly seem easier because there isn't the lifting, but with the typical top bar models I wondered about colony warmth during winter. What you describe sounds like the cluster could maintain that better. For the time being, I will stick with my Warrés, but I would like to get my hands on the plans and Layens translation Dr. Sharashkin is working on.

I hadn't even thought about a swarm trap, but then I've never seen a swarm around here! Sounds like an excellent thing to keep on hand, so thanks for the prompting. :)

Critter Tales is in the print proof stage, being checked for typos and formatting mistakes. As much as I love writing and book designing, I am so ready for it to be done!

Jeffrey White said...

I guess I may have missed it somewhere in your post or in the comments, but could you please tell me where you purchased your Warre kit from?

I am also seriously considering purchasing a Warre kit as well. So, I would certainly appreciate the information.

Thank you in advance.
Jeff

Jeffrey White said...

I guess I may have missed it somewhere in your post or in the comments, but could you please tell me where you purchased your Warre kit from?

I am also seriously considering purchasing a Warre kit as well.

Thank you in advance.
Jeff

Leigh said...

Jeff, I don't think I said. I've gotten all my Warre hives off of eBay, from TP Millwork. They only have the hive kits listed occasionally, so you'd have to follow the seller and keep your eyes open.