This is a series of post about our endeavor to raise bees at Stone Hill Ridge. But lets deal with the title first. One thing I have for sure learned in a few short months of starting to work with bees, every beekeeper has an opinion and some are better than others! I have been told the exact opposite things but different bee keepers as we are starting out. So half seriously we have decided to just make it up as we go along. At the very least it should be entertaining for you the blog reader.
So this is part 1 and for us that starts with the hives. There are a couple of different main types: Langstroth hives, Top-Bar hives, and Warré hives.
Langstroth hives are the ones you are used to seeing and are used in most commercial operations. They are square and usually painted white, although I am told that is not necessary and any color will do the bees don’t care. It is just needed to protect the wood against rot. As the bees fill a box a new one is added to the top. One of the things I have found that each bee keeper has an opinion on is how many frames to put into a box. A frame is a a square wooden frame that holds the honeycombs the bees build, it typically contains a sheet of plastic or wax to get the bees started. There are both 10 frame and 8 frame hives, but some say put 9 frames in a 10 frame hive or another told me to put 11 in to force the bees to build smaller more natural cells. This is the type of hive we started with, but more on that later.
Top-bar hives look more like a tree laid on its side with legs to lift it off the ground to a workable level. In this style of hive instead of stacking new boxes, frames are added to the back as the bees fill the ones they have. This type of hive will be used with empty frames or basically just the top-bar with some bees wax on it so the bees know where to build, thus the name. It is said to be better fro the bees because it allows them to build a more natural style honeycomb.
Warré hive look similar to a Langstroth in style, but are different. They have a more complex roof system that contains material to absorb moisture and help the bees regulate hive temperatures. For this reason they are used most often in colder climates. They also use an empty frame like the top-bar to allow the bees to do what they do best. It is hard to inspect the hive because the frames can not be removed without damaging the honeycomb.
As I stated we went with the Langstroth design mostly because it was more available and most bee keepers used them and could be a resource if we needed help. We bought a setup from Ebay that had 2 supers (deep boxes) and 3 mediums (medium depth boxes). The goal is the bees use the two supers for their own food and raising other bees, while eventually the fill the mediums with honey for us. Although I am told not to expect any in the first year, but that is a bee keepers opinion and up for discussion. The hives came mostly unassembled , so here are some pictures of the construction.
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