Bee Syndicate S2 E5 03/01/2016 Got Wood?
Throughout the history of beekeeping there have been many hive designs. Hives that range from a hollowed out log or a mud coated basket, to a glass observation hive used to study bees and let you see what its like to live the Hive Life. Most hives have been quite a nightmare for beekeepers and for bees. hives of the past often required that you destroy the hive to harvest the honey. Others were also impossible to inspect. That is until Reverend L. L. Langstroth the Father of Modern Beekeeping received his patent for his top opening hive with removable frames in 1852. The Langstroth hive is the most commonly used hive today. They come in several varieties but most commonly the two types you find are simply referred to as 8 and 10 frame. Langstroth found that by using “bee space”. He could encourage bees to draw out comb in wooden frames. Bee space is a 1/4- to 3/8-inches wide space that the bees will rarely fill with comb or propaliss when the bees are given foundation or some drawn out comb mounted in frames they will fill the frames with comb and not the other parts of the hive so that the frames can be easily removed.
I Received the first of my Langstroth hives for Christmas this year and I have been anxiously waiting to construct it. My first hive was a full hive from Valley Bee Supply. http://shop.valleybeesupply.com/H105-10-Frame-Beginners-Hive-Unassembled-12600-H105.htm
It was a starter hive that had 2 Deeps, 3 Supers, a Screened Bottom Board, an Inner Cover, and Telescoping Lid. a few weeks ago I opened the package to inspect the hive and discovered that it did not include frames. It’s a good setup but why a starter hive would not include frames and foundation I don’t know but it has everything else as far as the hive is concerned. and it will get you through the season that is if you are going to just have one hive.
It is often recommended that new beekeepers start with at least two hives. This way you can compare one hive to the other if something doesn't seem right . You can also swap resources if one of your hives becomes week you can swap in a frame of brood from the stronger hive. or add honey before the winter. It makes logical sense so that is what I will be doing. Starting off with 2 hives.
Rather than buy a second complete starter hive from Valley Bee Supply. I opted to get a Single deep with 10 frames and foundation starter hive and an additional deep with 10 frames and foundation from Mann Lake Bee Supply ( http://www.mannlakeltd.com or find them on amazon as i did)
The nice thing about Langstroth hives is the sizes are standardized so so you can mix and match stuff from different manufactures so this guys 10 frame stuff will work with that guys 10 frame stuff. Mix and matching all of the above mentioned Wood Ware should get me through my first season. i will have to buy some more frames at some point but that isn’t a problem or a priority early in the season.
So let's take a look at at all the parts of the classic Langstroth hive and do a little unboxing shall we?
From bottom to top let's start with the Aptly named Bottom Board.
The Bottom Board is the base that all the other components of the hive will stack on. Generally there are two types of bottom boards. Solid and Screened. Screened bottom boards are prefered by a lot of hobby beekeepers because Varroa and other debris can fall out of the hive and not return. I recently met a master beekeeper and he mentioned that he would be switching back to Solid bottom boards. I will have to see If I can get him to tell me why. Most bottom boards include a landing board. Often the bottom board is just longer than the boxes on top of it giving its residents a convenient place to land.
(Build it http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Screened-Bottom-Board_20110324.pdf or http://www.thebeeshed.com/documents/Build%20a%20Bottom%20Board%20-%20Standard.pdf )
The Entrance Reducer
An entrance reducer is a simple looking, but important piece of wood. It fits in the space made where the bottom board meets the hive box that's placed above it. This piece of lumber has two different sized notches on perpendicular sides. The entrance reducer makes smaller the point of access for the bees to enter the hive. This is done when a colony is weakened or is just beginning to establish itself so that the bees have an easier time defending the hive from various invaders. First, on the smaller setting. Then, the larger position is used. eventually The Entrance reducer will be removed altogether. In some cases a mouse guard will be installed in its place. The mouse guard isn't made of wood so I don't think we need to talk about it here.
(Build it http://www.thebeeshed.com/documents/Entrance%20Reducer.pdf )
Deeps are the full sized hive boxes that the bees will live in. there are generally two Deep hive boxes used for a fully developed colony. When you first get your bees only one deep will be on your hive arrangement. Once 80% of the frames in the first deep are drawn out a second deep will be added. The Deeps are often called Brood Boxes, or Brood Chambers because this is where the queen lays eggs and the Brood is raised.
Supers are boxes that are roughly half the height of the Deep boxes these boxes are usually used as honey storage. It is from these supers that a beekeeper would harvest honey from the hives . Often a special divider called a queen excluder is placed between the brood boxes and the honey supers to prevent the queen from laying eggs in the honey supers.
(Build it http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Hive-Bodies_20110323.pdf or http://www.thebeeshed.com/documents/articles/Build%20a%20Hive%20Body.pdf )
The inner cover creates the proper bee space for the top most section of hive It also helps with ventilation in the hive. Ventilation in a hive is super important. making honey is all about dehydration and evaporation is essential in cooling the hive. all that evaporated moisture needs to be moved out of the hive so ventilation in the top of the hive is critical.
( Build it http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Inner-Cover_20110316.pdf or http://www.thebeeshed.com/documents/articles/Inner%20Cover.pdf )
Telescoping Top Cover
The top cover is the roof of the hive It keeps the weather out of the hive and protects the bees and the woodware from the elements usually it has a metal top to helps it hold up to the elements.
( Build it http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Telescoping-Cover_20110321.pdf or http://www.thebeeshed.com/documents/articles/Telescoping%20Cover.pdf )
Probably the most iconic piece of the modern beehive. The movable frame is what makes the modern beekeeping modern. the frames hold the foundation that the bees will build the combo on and the comb is where the young are raised where food is stored and honey is made. Frames traditionally are made of wood but recently plastic frames have become available. In a future blog post I think we are going to have to look closer at the pros and cons of plastic over wood frames.
(Build it http://www.tc.umn.edu/~reute001/Plan%20files/pBee%20Hive%20frames.pdf )
Not discussed here is the hive stand
the hive stand is what it sounds like but most people use something like cinderblocks to keep hives a little higher off the ground
but if you like ( Build it http://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Hive-Bodies_20110323.pdf )
The people and groups below were awesome enough to produce and provide free plans online so that people can build their own hives. Please take the time to visit them.
Mann Lake is a respected supplier of bees and bee supplies. If you are like me and aren't talented or confident enough to build your hives, or you need to purchase beekeeping supplies
Mann Lake should be one of your first stops.