Langstroth versatility

Discussion pertaining specifically to the hive type commonly known as "Langstroth" with Hoffman frames.
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Tyson Kaiser
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Langstroth versatility

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed May 20, 2015 3:38 pm

Sometimes it seems that everyone wants to reinvent the wheel, and while competing designs are interesting and have different qualities it's difficult to compare to the ubiquity and versatility of the original Langstroth hive. Swappable frames, standardized sizes and cheap prefabbed wooden ware make Langstroth an easy and adaptable system for beginners. I highly recommend starting with Langs rather than more rigid designs when you are just starting out, the easy universality of components frees new beekeepers up to learn more difficult aspects of beekeeping without distraction.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Nate K » Wed May 20, 2015 3:54 pm

Agreed Tyson, langs are very easy to use for the new beekeeper.
I want to peg an addition on to that, use all medium equipment. Then all equipment is truly interchangeable.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Solomon » Wed May 20, 2015 4:08 pm

Or at least use all of the same equipment. Though, you may be young now and think you can lift deeps, but you will probably change your mind eventually. Better to start with mediums now.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed May 20, 2015 4:09 pm

Agreed, I use all 8 frame mediums. It's definitely due to Michael Bush's influence, but it works really well in an urban environment like mine.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Nate K » Wed May 20, 2015 5:06 pm

I know now Michael says that as well, but I didn't when i started. It was a recommendation to me from a friend.
Very glad I took his advice.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby beekeating » Wed May 20, 2015 5:23 pm

I went all one size (mediums), but I did decide to go with 10 frames rather than 8. I am running all foundationless frames which I bought from Kelly (their F-Style) which has a comb guide wedge routed right into the bottom of the top bar section of the frame and has no groove on the bottom bar so as to create less places for other creatures to hide such as hive beetles.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Wed May 20, 2015 7:00 pm

I'm happy enough with all medium langstroth hives and frames. If I did a top bar (horizontal), I would build one I could put medium frames into. Is that still a top bar? Versatility and flexibility. The debate is whether I should be building some 8 frame boxes or not.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed May 20, 2015 7:40 pm

I find 8 frames easier to inspect primarily because I use the 14" standard size boxes. These leave a finger wide gap on the sides when the frames are pushed together. This limits rolling the bees when pulling frames, and helps draft air up the interior of the hive, helping with overheating issues. Lastly, 8 frames in a 14" box can be spaced out to encourage comb bulging for easier uncapping without requiring a spacer.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby justinross » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:53 pm

lharder wrote:I'm happy enough with all medium langstroth hives and frames. If I did a top bar (horizontal), I would build one I could put medium frames into. Is that still a top bar? Versatility and flexibility. The debate is whether I should be building some 8 frame boxes or not.


I did something kind of similar. My first hive is a long langstroth, that I'm currently using medium frames in, but could conceivably put top bars in (I've thought about it, but I don't have a strong reason to).

A big thing to consider if you end up doing a TBH that can take lang frames is that most TBH's are designed under around the idea that bees can't get between top bars, as they're uniform and nudged up against each other. If you start adding lang frames, the spacing/gaps of the sidebars will throw that off.

Shouldn't be a dealbreaker, but it's something to consider and deal with as needed.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:51 am

I use Langs because of the convenience of being able to buy everything I need pretty much anywhere. If the Warre gear was as ubiquitous and affordable I'd be using a lot more of that. I'm pragmatic, I use what is most practical, beggars can't be choosers :-)
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:10 pm

I have been inspired by a looking at horizontal hives to build this base that will hold 20 medium 1-1/4" wide frames and two 8 frame medium boxes on top. I'm very interested to see how it does. I hope it is a back saver! Top entrance only. Solid bottom with a 1/4" whole drilled for a drain just in case.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Sat Jun 27, 2015 5:02 pm

Looks heavy as all get out, hope you aren't planning on lifting it much!
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby kalama_beek » Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:15 pm

Isn't the theory behind the long Lang to set it where you want it (like a TBH) and only move boxes during supering? Looks as though you'd add 2 supers at a time, so when supered this would be half as tall as std Lang setup. Seems like a good idea to me as long as the bees go for it.


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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:09 am

kalama_beek wrote:Isn't the theory behind the long Lang to set it where you want it (like a TBH) and only move boxes during supering? Looks as though you'd add 2 supers at a time, so when supered this would be half as tall as std Lang setup. Seems like a good idea to me as long as the bees go for it.


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:D Thats right! I will not be lifting that BIG A** box! It will be left in one spot like a TBH. I can super on one side at a time though. The lids are only one super wide.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:09 am

kalama_beek wrote:Isn't the theory behind the long Lang to set it where you want it (like a TBH) and only move boxes during supering? Looks as though you'd add 2 supers at a time, so when supered this would be half as tall as std Lang setup. Seems like a good idea to me as long as the bees go for it.


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:D Thats right! I will not be lifting that BIG A** box! It will be left in one spot like a TBH. I can super on one side at a time though. The lids are only one super wide.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby kalama_beek » Mon Jun 29, 2015 1:32 pm

Nice! Please post success and/or failures so we can learn along with you. It looks great. I have a similar hive in the making as well, just don't think I'll be able to put bees in it this year. We'll see.


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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:33 pm

kalama_beek wrote:Nice! Please post success and/or failures so we can learn along with you. It looks great. I have a similar hive in the making as well, just don't think I'll be able to put bees in it this year. We'll see.


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I'm in the same boat you are. I wont be able to start bees in it this year :?

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:04 pm

Would be cool to see overwintering comparisons between long and tall langstroffs. For getting access to brood to make some nucs I now have to lift 4 boxes of honey off some of the hives to get at them. Its now major push to get all the nucs set up before the end of July.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby EkiPoPo » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:33 am

lharder wrote:Would be cool to see overwintering comparisons between long and tall langstroffs. For getting access to brood to make some nucs I now have to lift 4 boxes of honey off some of the hives to get at them. Its now major push to get all the nucs set up before the end of July.

Just curious but if you have to lift 4 boxes of honey why don’t you harvest???

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby EkiPoPo » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:40 am

Still don't get TB hives they sure don't seem to have any advantages except maybee if your building your own stuff. In nature seems like bee trees grow up and not sideways

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Fri Jul 03, 2015 1:30 pm

EkiPoPo wrote:Still don't get TB hives they sure don't seem to have any advantages except maybee if your building your own stuff. In nature seems like bee trees grow up and not sideways


Bees can be found in horizontal fallen trees/logs and bees often choose to make nests under houses in attics or basements between floor joists... so there is nothing unnatural about horizontal hives. The do however have to be worked a little different from a beekeeping perspective. The main difference being that they are easier on the back, they have to be worked gently because they have no comb support, and in the winter you have to make sure you move them all to one end of the hive. If they all cluster in the middle they might move to one end of the hive or the other and starve at that end leaving all the honey at the other end.

In the pic above I have combinded a TBH with a langstroth to try and get the best of both worlds

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:55 am

I'm working on it, the harvest that is. Extractor is almost ready to go, Have to get the grape press cleaned up for any messed up comb, Need some buckets, need to empty out some extracting space. Meanwhile trying to get enough equipment together for the nucs and make a few more queens. I may be able to do more than anticipated. Almost there. Also have a couple of out yards to explore and set up. Everything is happening at once. So I just add more boxes until I achieve that highly theoretically state of being when everything is under control.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Billy7871 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:00 pm

I am thinking of building a long langstroth hive. I use all mediums 8 now so I want to build it to fit medium frames. It seems everyone is building them to hold about 34 frames but that's with deeps. Do I need to make it longer to hold more mediums?

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:53 pm

>Do I need to make it longer to hold more mediums?

Mine hold 34 mediums.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby JGrizle » Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:18 pm

Billy7871 wrote:I am thinking of building a long langstroth hive. I use all mediums 8 now so I want to build it to fit medium frames. It seems everyone is building them to hold about 34 frames but that's with deeps. Do I need to make it longer to hold more mediums?


You can always add supers if you build your top right. See my photos above ^^^^^^ I made mine shorter but I will probably make the next one longer to compare them. Either way I use all top entrances with lids that fit 8 frame mediums exactly

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby moebees » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:44 am

EkiPoPo wrote:
Still don't get TB hives they sure don't seem to have any advantages except maybee if your building your own stuff. In nature seems like bee trees grow up and not sideways

JGrizle wrote:

Bees can be found in horizontal fallen trees/logs and bees often choose to make nests under houses in attics or basements between floor joists... so there is nothing unnatural about horizontal hives.


Some of the earliest hives known to have been used by humans are from Egypt and surrounding regions and they are long horizontal clay pipes.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby moebees » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:08 am

Tyson Kaiser wrote:
Sometimes it seems that everyone wants to reinvent the wheel, and while competing designs are interesting and have different qualities it's difficult to compare to the ubiquity and versatility of the original Langstroth hive.


As many others have responded already, the big advantage of the Langstroth hive is its ubiquitous presence and therefore abundance of manufactured parts and accessories. All of which is the result of its widespread acceptance by commercial beekeepers. Widespread acceptance by commercial beekeepers is not surprising because it is designed to be commercial friendly but that means it has many drawbacks that make it less than ideal for bees. The fact that bees are highly adaptable and can live in almost any cavity doesn't mean that you should put them in just anything and that there are not better solutions for backyard beekeepers. However, many and maybe most backyard beekeepers do not have the wherewithal to build their own hives so they end up buying one made for commercial beekeepers because it is so universal. My opinion is that in this day and age of so many problems facing bees from mites and viruses, to pesticides, loss of diverse forage, and trucking them into mono cultures, it would behoove us to not make the box they are in, a disadvantage they have to fight against as well. The essential thing the beekeeper provides is the box. Why not make it the best box possible from the bee perspective. We marvel at how swarms move into all kinds of strange places and survive. But perhaps those colonies would not survive in those strange places if they were trucked to the almonds or were exposed to Minnesota winters.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Nordak » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:48 am

moebees wrote:
EkiPoPo wrote:
Still don't get TB hives they sure don't seem to have any advantages except maybee if your building your own stuff. In nature seems like bee trees grow up and not sideways

JGrizle wrote:

Bees can be found in horizontal fallen trees/logs and bees often choose to make nests under houses in attics or basements between floor joists... so there is nothing unnatural about horizontal hives.


Some of the earliest hives known to have been used by humans are from Egypt and surrounding regions and they are long horizontal clay pipes.


The horizontal argument baffles me. What is a single deep langstroth before the beekeeper adds another box? Bees build comb horizontally in a langstroth hive too.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby moebees » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:16 am

Nordak wrote:
The horizontal argument baffles me. What is a single deep langstroth before the beekeeper adds another box? Bees build comb horizontally in a langstroth hive too.


True that. And when a swarm moves in between some floor joists and hangs the comb from the sub-floor you have what? An upside down horizontal hive. :)
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Nordak » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:19 pm

Hehe, yep. Did you ever decide on a hive type?

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:58 pm

So how do bees arrange things in prep for winter in the top bar hive? I just went through some of my langs. Lots had top entrances and kept brood near them through the season, but now there has been a shift with food going on top.

I would like to see overwintering success by growing zone for each hive type.

Perhaps the willingness of bees to use any type of cavity shouldn't be used as a criteria. But also we shouldn't generalize what bees want. It can be quite different from climatic zone to climatic zone. The habits of Africanized bees are quite different than northern bees and I'm guessing as you move through different climatic zones in a continent, preferences and habits shift subtly as well.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby Nordak » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:35 pm

I've got 10 top bar hives currently, and having the entrance on one end, they are keeping fairly consistent brood transition to honey pattern. Right now we are on a pollen/nectar flow, so the brood nests have been getting back filled as they slow down. There is one exception to this, a hive I added a back entrance to last year has this year went from utilizing the main entrance to now using the back one more. They currently have a brood, honey, brood pattern, with the back (front in relation to original entrance) remnant of brood comb getting back filled. They do a good job of keeping things fairly well laid out for wintering as long as the entrance is kept at one end. Admittedly, our relatively mild winters compared to more northerly temps means they can frequently break cluster if need be. I've never felt the need to rearrange things before winter and have had great success thus far. TBHs work exceptionally well here. Summer is a bigger problem for me than winter due to potential comb collapse, which I had more of this year than previous years. Disheartening to be in the middle of an inspection and find 3 honey combs have detached from the top bars and reattached to the bottom and sides of the hive. A messy situation with lots of angry bees by the end of it. That being said, and it may just be a matter of getting used to it, I still prefer the TBH inspections over the Lang hive. Much less stressful overall for myself and the bees I believe.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby moebees » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:08 pm

Nordak wrote:

Hehe, yep. Did you ever decide on a hive type?


No, my head is still spinning. I spend much of my day thinking about different styles and designs. I guess I have too much time during the day and too much time before I actually get some bees.

I started out thinking I was definitely going to go with tbh. I bought Wyatt A. Mangum book on TBH. Then I decided I would go with long langstroth but insulated (modified European style). Then I was thinking polystyrene Langstroth with wood linings for propolis. After someone on here (I think it was you Nordak) suggested Warre I decided I would make a modified Warre same depth as a Langstroth deep but other dimensions the same with frames instead of top bars. Now I am back to leaning toward the long Langstroth again. Give me a couple of days and I will probably come full circle and be back to top bar hives. There are things I like and things I dislike about each of them. So I think well hive x has these attributes I like and I can make y and z changes and get the best of all worlds. Then inevitably I think of some problem that I cannot figure out an easy solution and I go back to some other design. I will probably keep changing my mind until the time comes when I have to make a decision and whatever style I have in mind at that time will be the one! :lol:
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:58 am

I´m putting my post in here.

This is out of a conversation with Michael, I hope it´s ok to post it here.
Allcomments welcome.

Am 31.10.2016 um 22:47 schrieb Michael Bush <bees@bushfarms.com>:

I highly recommend all the same size boxes.


Yes, I know and I did this now for 2 years.
But.
I have Dadant deep 11 1/4 which is just the right size in my climate for the broodnest, because the broodnest is on 6-8 frames. This is because they are all splits.
And I have to go on splitting until I have resistant stock, which will be in some years earliest.

Otherwise the tf apiaries will crash under my circumstances. Too much mite infestation.

The honey they store mostly at the sides. This are 6-4 frames. I work 12 frames and a divider.( I meant a follower board, sorry about the use of a wrong term)

Putting a deep on top they have problems to draw and fill the big space.
But I want some honey on top in winter. A super will be just fine.

So I want to put on a super which I will never harvest and if they breed into it, so be it.
The second super I will harvest, if possible.
Honey I can feed back after extraction. I will never have more than 20 hives.
A short frame with capped honey I can use for feeding behind the divider.(follower board)

If it does´t work out, I´m able to do some carpentry to combine the boxes back to deeps.
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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:18 pm

Oh update on my all medium set up.

I'm going to try a square dadant box. Fits 14 1.25 inch frames. Be doing the excluder with follower board thing as well. Eventually will be introducing deep frames and seeing how the bees respond to it relative to an all medium set up. The thing that intriques me with the square set up is having perpendicular comb so the bees access all of it from the box below.

Will be trying 4 or these hives.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:09 pm

The thing that intriques me with the square set up is having perpendicular comb so the bees access all of it from the box below.


Can you explain further what you mean by that?

this picture shows a broodnest area , the arrangement I like very much.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:38 pm

Its just borrowing from Berhard's observation on bee source. If the honey super frames are parallel to the brood nest, then often the frames above the brood nest are worked, and those beside are not. When the honey frame are places perpendicular, all the honey frames are worked and capped more evenly.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:39 pm

What time of year is that photo taken?

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby SiWolKe » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:29 pm

Interesting!
I believe it´s the laddering. Mine start at the sides mostly because they ladder behind the follower board, so they don´t have to go through broodnest area.

The pic above was taken on June 9th 2016.
Maybe I´m crazy but I like a kind of balance between stores and brood, so they have stores in a draught.

the "breeders" do it like that:
for those i need the supers for sure
Those long frames are Zander 1.5 which are 10cm longer than dadant deep.
I´ve not yet been able to sort them out.

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Re: Langstroth versatility

Postby lharder » Sun Nov 06, 2016 4:01 pm

Beautiful frames. Looking forward to playing around with this hive type in spring.

Can you describe your bottom board, and do you have upper entrances?


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