Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Discussion about all the various types and configurations of topbar hives.
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GregV
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Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:49 pm

Well, since we don't have a special section for non-TB horizontals, here it goes under TB hives...

Before talking of an optimal hive we ought to define a specific business case which this hive will serve.
Once the circumstances (location, climate, regulations, crazy ideas, etc) are specified, one can start looking for an optimal hive to meet the needs.

My case was greatly inspired by these resources:
http://www.horizontalhive.com/how-to-bu ... sign.shtml
http://www.horizontalhive.com/keeping-b ... book.shtml
http://www.horizontalhive.com/keeping-b ... book.shtml

...and the premise to be able to "manage my hives with just two visits per year".

Of course, the entire thing entirely depends on the TF bees; this is given.

Here is my case:
* I am in South Central WI suburb (so that covers the locality/climate)
* I want to have 4-5 long-term sustainable, low management hives scattered across the landscape; these are to serve my family food consumption
* the hives must be transportable by a mainstream vehicle (a minivan/small SUV)
* the hives must be able to give my bees good home and hold up to both WI winter and summer out in field (I will live them there year around)
* low management means - setup the hive in spring for the warm season; setup the hive in fall for cold season; few quick peeks in between
* need to maintain few nucs separatelly for redundancy/recovery reasons - the TF model
* I will not want to pull any honey for myself until very late in season (October?) or even spring
* more hives - more work for me; fewer hives - not good for total loss prevention (hence the hive number I target for)
* my hive design - you've seen the pics; this is what I decided for myself
* my hives are largely designed per Layens blueprints above, but for Dadant' size frame oriented vertically (two Lang mediums stapled together - easier than to make custom Layen's frames);
* the support nucs are to fit the same 6-7 frames

To be continued, I guess...
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GregV
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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:54 pm

more pics..
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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby Nordak » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:27 am

Beautiful hives, Greg. Great craftsmanship. I think Wisconsin is a good fit for what you're trying to accomplish with these hives. Looking forward to following your progress.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:30 am

Nordak wrote:Beautiful hives, Greg. Great craftsmanship. I think Wisconsin is a good fit for what you're trying to accomplish with these hives. Looking forward to following your progress.


BTW, cost of materials - $0.0.
All construction scraps.
Wood - mostly 2x. 2x4 and 2x6 material is all over for free - just go and get it.
2x8 harder to score but still possible
I am doing the thick wooden walls.
1x used for the top cover construction and bottom board.
Paint - anything free that came up.
Art - free by the kids. :D

Munus - had to buy a table saw (one time) and some hardware that I can not make myself (cheap).

The nucs - plywood and partical board from dumpsters.
More quick disposable nucs/traps to be made from cardboard boxes - to be discussed in a bit.

Also, this whole idea depends on TF bees.
I have to be able to put them out there and forget about them if needed.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby Nordak » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:45 am

I admire your scavenging abilities. I try to utilize scraps at any opportunity I can as well. Not nearly handily as you have, but gets the job done. Never feel bad about the table saw. That's an investment you'll never regret I'd you do your own builds.

There is a rather remote area I have permission to put a yard on a good drive away. If I ever get brave enough to be that hands off, a chest hive might very well be the perfect hive for such an endeavor. There are known feral colonies in the area. It would be worth the effort I believe to bring in some new blood. Something to ponder on anyway.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:48 am

Nordak wrote:I admire your scavenging abilities....


:D
Well, I am much into Reuse-Reduce-Recycle theme.
I now have purpose to pickup throw-away wood all over - a good thing.
But the garage can only hold so much! :shock:

Nordak wrote:There is a rather remote area I have permission to put a yard on a good drive away.


Somehow, around here I have had good luck with places I was offered.
I need MORE bees!

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:46 am

Good luck!

I like the designs, hopefully they will prevent drifting if you have more than one in one place.

Are you planning to migrate, since you want easy transportation? Or only for taking away splits or honey boxes?

If you do less maintenance, what about swarming? In my location a healthy split will fill this box the next spring in may.

If you want to harvest surplus honey in spring, do you not have honey crystallized in comb cells until then?
How will you harvest?
Our honey crystallizes very fast except the fir louse honey.
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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:45 pm

SiWolKe wrote:I like the designs, hopefully they will prevent drifting if you have more than one in one place.

Thanks!
My vision is to not have more than one large hive at a given location (plus a stand-by nuc; plus a swarm-interceptor trap).
If some drifting occurs, then be it.
Not going to worry of everything under the sun.

SiWolKe wrote:Are you planning to migrate, since you want easy transportation? Or only for taking away splits or honey boxes?

Migrate - yes.
Since my own backyard is very small and only ONE hive is allowed at the moment (I want to propose city regulation change), I MUST be able to migrate.
Hence my standard hives must fit onto standard cargo carrier - this is one of the specifications I envisioned.
And since I depend on the locations I have no total control over (the owner may ask me to leave, for example), I must be able to just pickup my hives and leave. But I am also scouting out new locations (there are plenty of farms and private reserves around) where I can ask the owners to let me put a hive up. I just need more robust TF bees at the moment! :D

SiWolKe wrote:If you do less maintenance, what about swarming? In my location a healthy split will fill this box the next spring in may.

1)I will want to follow Solomon's splitting techniques.
2)IF a swarm occurs - great! I love swarms. These are the best bees. This is what the swarm-interceptor traps are for. One must have swarm traps around the existing bee yard. I think this is given and needs no explanations. Why people are not doing this is beyond my understanding. :D
A simple computer box wrapped in plastic and few old frames inside and a drop of LGO; stick it into a bush - done.
Absolutely nothing to loose and everything to gain.
3)I also want to practice temporary splits by default (within the same horizontal hive) - more on this later.
4)The hive on the picture is about 90-100 liters in volume (this is between 2 and 3 deep Langstroth 10-frame boxes).
This hive is also capable of taking an additional 30 liter insert under the cover (this is the same as 10-frame medium Langstroth box).
So the hive at the max summer configuration can be about 120 liters in volume and should not be forcing the bees into a swarming mode easily.
This is unless I want them to swarm, that can be easily achieved as well.

One fuss about the typical TB hives I have - they are too small (people make them without thinking ahead).
Then the people end up continuously doing anti-swarm management and TB becomes a labor-intensive project.
Well, this does not need to be this way.
One should be making the hives large enough so they do not have to do this (unless you do want them to swarm).
A good default hive size - 120 liters (three 10-frame deep Langstroth boxes).

SiWolKe wrote:If you want to harvest surplus honey in spring, do you not have honey crystallized in comb cells until then?

Maybe yes; maybe no.
Depends on a locality.
People do it.
I do envision myself taking the honey mostly in fall though after the bees cluster and it is obvious if they have extra honey to share (or not).

SiWolKe wrote:How will you harvest?
Our honey crystallizes very fast except the fir louse honey.


I have no equipment at all. Will crush/strain, I guess.
I will solve the problems as they will come.
To figure out how to harvest honey is a good problem to have.

But also, I am actually more after old fermented pollen (perga) and drone brood (the best food supplement; why this is being ignored is beyond me also). The honey is kind of trivial thing; unsure why people only go after honey - this is really a 19th century approach when people did not get enough of the sweets. We have plenty of carbs now days, we do not need more carbs in our diets. Of course, my own honey will replace the industrial carbs everywhere possible. I am much into proper and natural nutrition (grow my own everything, including even potatoes).

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby SiWolKe » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:29 pm

. I think this is given and needs no explanations. Why people are not doing this is beyond my understanding. :D


Here it is not allowed to bait.. That`s because of the mite fear. Beekeepers believe your swarms to be mite distributors. So the law says to close all places bees could loge in. And the swarms from other beekeepers ( we have no ferals) is his and it´s theft if you catch it.

At my location it is possible to hide some bait hives, maybe.... for my own swarms.

To me swarming is a method bees use to keep their health but it could be that they never will be resistant to mites because they don´t have to become resistant. Or if you want to call this behavior a resistance trait, that´s it. Depends on what you want to have, a kind of ferals under your wings, or commercial bees.
Beekeepers don´t want bees to be swarmy, though, because of the honey harvest.

I like your using drone brood for nutrition. Give a receipt, please. Dry them and do hamburgers out of them would be nice. On TV I saw someone breeding larvae out of some african beetles and eating those. Good protein. But I don´t like people to import foreign insects. You never know what will happen with imported insects.
We have local stuff.
I will monitor mites with pulling out some drone brood and would like to use it. Or my chicken will get it but so far I have no chickens, but will have.

If your hive has 120l it´s nearly as big as two deep of mine. I want only to have small colonies. In europe we are not able to keep production hives tf. IMHO.
You have to be careful not to breed mites.

This winter 7 of my colonies died. Six were on two deeps, one , with queen failure, was one deep. All one deep so far survived, so I believe, my managements were wrong. The brood box below, top deep full of honey was too much cold space for them on top. They should have been in the top box with big honey domes like the one deep colonies.

Since I take only surplus of honey I will take the combs whenever they have more than 20kg, does´t matter when. We have good flow the whole year if the weather permits. In spring, if they have too much they will swarm even being weak because the brood nests fill, so I will take some. Use it for the splits. I don´t want to build up boxes until I have to use a ladder.
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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby Nordak » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:01 pm

Don't be surprised if your swarm traps don't catch your bees. The swarms I've seen clustered with traps out always went North of me and ignored mine. I have caught many swarms outside of my own bees in my yard though. The traps are a good idea for increase either way.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:07 pm

Nordak wrote:Don't be surprised if your swarm traps don't catch your bees. The swarms I've seen clustered with traps out always went North of me and ignored mine. I have caught many swarms outside of my own bees in my yard though. The traps are a good idea for increase either way.


Sure and that is understood and, in fact, great!
I would love to catch swarms that are not even mine; of course, it'd be best to keep mine as well. :D
Take the full trap down; put up an empty one and wish for more.
The more the merrier!

In all, if you have zero traps set out, you have a big fat zero chance to catch any swarm.
This one is a no brainer to me.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:20 pm

SiWolKe wrote:
. I think this is given and needs no explanations. Why people are not doing this is beyond my understanding. :D


Here it is not allowed to bait...


This is what we call "excessive regulation" here in the US of A.
There are good and necessary regulations.
And then there are misguided regulations with, potentially, bad outcomes.
Those particular regulations that you have I would call "misguided" and counter-productive, and anti-TFB, in fact.
Sorry to hear about it.

In your case, I'd do it anyway. :D

Regarding drone brood for food - I will just start a new topic (not exactly belongs here).

Regarding the big hives - these are really meant to boost honey production at the expense of higher exposure to the mites.
You should be able to have a single high yield out of this hive before it may crash (OR NOT crash, if the bees are truly TF).
If they crash - not a problem, you get the honey and restart a colony from a nuc and move on.
That's exactly what the "expansion TF model" Solomon is teaching right here. A non-issue.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:06 am

GregV wrote:Regarding drone brood for food - I will just start a new topic (not exactly belongs here).


I started it here:
viewtopic.php?f=51&t=718

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:07 am

GregV wrote: (OR NOT crash, if the bees are truly TF).

That's exactly what the "expansion TF model" Solomon is teaching right here. A non-issue.


To me there is no stability in keeping tf bees in a certain kind of way because the environmental impacts are changing all the time ( europe).

The mite infestation from other beekeepers could be so high suddenly that all your hives crash.

One year good flow, next year almost none, one year spraying, next year no pesticides, one year isolation, next year a migrating beekeeper near and so on.

The expansion model, sorry but I have to say this, can´t be done in this way here because every second or third year you will have so many losses that you have to start all over again, the worst situation this year is that some have to start all over with treated susceptible stock.

Our landscapes don´t allow more than 10 hives at one place or the bees starve. They mostly depend on agriculture, not many rural plants.
This means one very good flow if the weather allows, then mostly none at all later.
Imagine this one good flow contaminated with pesticides!

The commercials migrate but since they are treating I don´t mention them again here.

So to me it´s the two lane approach to tf. Selection of the resistant ones and isolating and treating the susceptibles ( without chemicals and oils).
Use the nurse bees for better queen breeding.

Please remember: no ferals to improve stock or hive numbers.

Very small splits are not working with my stock, because these change their behaviors, they will have other priorities than doing VSH and defending against mites. The development of their colony is their priority.

So everyone has to see individually how he is able to keep alive some colonies to go on.
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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:49 pm

SiWolKe wrote:
GregV wrote: (OR NOT crash, if the bees are truly TF).

That's exactly what the "expansion TF model" Solomon is teaching right here. A non-issue.


......Please remember: no ferals to improve stock or hive numbers......


In any case, I have to try this for myself and see how it goes.

I do not believe you need ferals.
Although it is great and beneficial to have them, they are not necessary.
All the beneficial genes are right there, in your own bees.
They just need to be exposed as quickly as possible by increased speed of propagation (i.e. - the expansion model).

Professionally, I am in IT business.
One of our fundamental ideas is to have data redundancy (saved aside copies of our important data) so that if a disaster occurs and we loose some data, we always have a backup copy of the same data to continue our mission.
Exact same idea works for the beekeeping. Create as many copies of the main hive as possible so that you can afford to lose some and still continue the main mission. If your main site has hive number limits, find redundant sites and have backup beehive copies (nucs in beekeeping lingo) on those sites.

The geographically redundant sites are very important in that they are not subject to your local disasters.
For example, if you have three geographically separate bee yards, it is very unlikely that ALL of those yards will be affected by the same pesticide application. This way one may afford to lose entire yard or even two yard and still have your third location to keep going.

Hence the talk in this topic - migratory, alpine-stile beekeeping.
It assumes by the very default multiple and separate geographic bee yard locations as a part of robust beekeeping model.
The important idea is to not only subscribe to keeping redundant hives but also to keeping them in redundant, remote locations.

Alpine-style beekeeping means - ones sets up his/her hives in various remote valleys in the mountains somewhere and leaves them alone there for the entire season. So this is the main premise of the topic.

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby DocEvil » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:53 pm

Dr. Leo talks about the bees keeping brood and pollen near the entrance of the horizontal hives and honey on frames further from the entrance, making it really easy to harvest. With the two entrance design, where have you seen the surplus honey stored?

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Re: Alpine-style low-maintenance beekeeping - deep horizontal chest hive

Postby GregV » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:36 pm

DocEvil wrote:Dr. Leo talks about the bees keeping brood and pollen near the entrance of the horizontal hives and honey on frames further from the entrance, making it really easy to harvest. With the two entrance design, where have you seen the surplus honey stored?


Typically you do not have both entrances open at once in a case of a single colony.
You only use one entrance at one time open and, thus, have control over the allocation of the nest and the stores as described by Dr. Leo.
With asymmetric entrance which is close to a hive corner you get what Dr. Leo talks about (in fact, MB does exactly that as well - corner entrance; he stated this in the Dadant topic nearby here).

Also, as MB noted, naturally bees tend to build combs at an angle to the entrance (so to control the hive climate better). Well, with the asymmetric hive entrances you give bees exactly what they want because the frames are positioned at an angle to the entrance.

The two entrance design where the entrances are placed at the opposing corners of the hive (but the same side of the hive) means:
1)ability to shift frames towards one entrance and do maintenance at the other end of hive
2)ability to reorganize the frames (seasonally, or more often) with very few moves - you move the frames from one end to the other end; close old entrance; open the new entrance
3)ability to run two colonies in the same hive via two entrances at once (requires a tight separating insert); typically this means a small nuc running via the second entrance from the same hive (good idea to protect the nuc entrance from robbing, obvously).

In fact, this exact design should work with a typical TBH and is a good practice. No principal difference.
Having a single center entrance on long horizontal hives is bad design decision (yet you see it often).


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