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I'm still trying to get my head around why people like these hives. I have inspected a few over the years and have been generally disappointed with them although I have to admit I haven't seen that many. I have also been running a long hive for three years and have come to the conclusion that bees are far happier in a vertical hive rather than a horizontal hives. Perhaps happier is not the right word and productive would be more appropriate but with bees these two words are often interchangeable.

What I would really like is some comments from people that have run more than one type of hive on how happy\productive the different types of hives are and also perceived advantages \ disadvantages.

To start it off I have found that the bees in the long hive are very slow to move to the outer ends of the box during a honey flow and this ends up with the Queen being squeezed into a smaller and smaller brood area. This is especially noticeable during a winter gum flow but it is often necessary to move honey away from the brood nest to give the Queen more room. If left long enough without manipulation the Queen not only has insufficient frames to lay on she also gets squeezed to the bottom of the frames that she is laying on. On the plus side there are no heavy boxes to lift and with a pot plant on top it looks just like a garden seat.

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Ok, guilty! I started with a couple of Warrè hives. Why? Because I thought it was the right thing to do and all the Langstroth keepers got it wrong. Bees have to be kept 'naturally'. There is nothing more or less natural in a Warrè hive then it is in a Lang. What got me in the end, I think, was that bees don't always build comb along the top bars. So then I had to crush comb to get to the honey and bees have to slave to draw fresh comb. Using frames makes beekeeping so much easier and yes, if I would have thought of turning my top bars into frames I would have stuck with me Warrè hives as the boxes are smaller and easier to lift. A Langstroth FD super full of honey is a back breaker!

I would still like to try a bench hive. One day.... :cool:

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My vote goes to an upright hollow tree, or a crevice in a cliff as the most durable commonly available natural colony home for wild bees.

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"Mirrors on the hive mats" attrib Nosmo King

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We did start to talk about this, but didn't take it anywhere.

 

Fundamentals of hive design

 

Beekeeping with native honey bees began at relatively low latitudes and traditional 'hives' were horizontal designs almost everywhere. In small regions of northern Europe hives were placed upright; they were frequently just basketry or pottery containers. The use of horizontal or vertical arrangements in the different regions solved different problems.

 

At low latitudes the greatest problem is heat, and a horizontal arrangement is easier to keep cool. Bees can forage most of the year, warm temperatures enable comb building away from the brood area, and the size of the colony as a whole is small. Consequently the combs don’t face the same structural strains as large combs would. At high latitudes the problem is cold. During the summer the bees must amass a store of food to last through the period when foraging becomes impossible, and they need a larger comb area to keep it in. The bee population is greater too, and must act to conserve heat and energy during the cold period. Storing honey above the brood nest is thermally efficient. In the spring, comb is best constructed close to or above the brood where the temperature is high enough to produce and work wax.

 

The dichotomy between horizontal and vertical persists today, each suiting a different geographic region or race of honey bee. Arguably, most of the advances made by modern beekeeping were a result of having to solve the problems arising from a larger colony in a vertical hive.

 

The most significant advance was the use of moveable-frame hives. Three types of hive are in use around the world. Fixed-comb hives are simply a container in which the combs are fastened directly to the container surfaces. Moveable-comb and moveable-frame hives allow direct access and removal of any comb, but using a frame makes the combs more robust for transport (very necessary before the advent of modern suspension!), and extraction of honey. Vertical hives nowadays are almost (but not quite) all moveable-frame hives.

 

The use of fixed comb hives is really only possible if they are the only type in use in the region. There is very little opportunity to spread disease but, in a competitive sense, they can not be operated economically. If moveable frame hives are present the risk of disease increases also, with fatal consequences for fixed comb hives as they can not be diagnosed and treated. Reservoirs of disease will go unrecognised, exacerbating the problem. Quite early on (by 1907 in New Zealand) the general use of fixed-frame hives in such circumstances was made unlawful in most devveloped countries.

 

For users of horizontal hives the option to use moveable-combs or moveable-frames greatly improves the management of the colony. Moveable-frame hives provide higher yields and the advantageous use of technology in construction, transport, and honey processing, but at a higher capital outlay. Horizontal moveable-comb hives have an ancient heritage, but are a recent rediscovery. The innovation was to use them in developing economies as an intermediate, low-tech, solution for subsistence agriculture, using local materials and conserving local bee races by replacing honey hunting. Typically African, is it much easier to manage highly defensive tropical bees in a single-story hive with full-width frame tops. The honey harvest can be taken incrementally, a frame or two at a time, and avoid oversupply in limited, fragile markets. Wax moth control (a significant problem in the tropics) is maintained by the bees who protect the combs. It is also possible to suspend a single story horizontal hive away from pests, something almost impossible with a tiered, vertical hive. Horizontal hives are also used for Caucasian bees, famed for their propolis use.

 

In New Zealand the first hives to arrive in the 1840s were fixed-comb straw skeps, but these were really just used as 'transport cases'. The bees were quickly transferred into wooden hives, various fixed-comb types including the octagonal Stewarton design and copies of Huber's 'Leaf' hive. As well, no doubt some copies too of early Australian hives (a fixed-comb box similar to Blackwell's honey supers) were used, but these were all abandoned as beekeeping evolved into a commercial venture. Now only two vertical hives are used, the almost universal Langstroth hive, and rarely, the Warre, the later being designed as a moveable-comb hive. There are also two horizontal types of hive, the 'long' hive with moveable-frames, and the 'top-bar' hive with moveable-combs. The current use of Warre and Top-bar hives dates from around 2007, following the publication of books by David Heaf and Philip Chandler popularising a suburban movement concerned with 'natural beekeeping' practices. Long hives are particularly useful for making conventional beekeeping accessable for people with disabilities, injuries or age-impairments. The Langstroth hive remains the 'backbone' of beekeeping both here and in much of the developed world, where only the Dadant is as important.

http://www.nzbees.net/forum/threads/hive-types.1317/#post-14886

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As a beginner you seem to be focused on to these types of hives when researching and learning. I guess marketing plays a big part in this for new hobbyists. Let bees build natural comb, better for the bees etc they didnt interest me as it seemed a harder way to learn and could end up very messy when inspecting top bar hives for a new bee. Just my personal opinion. I heard about your long hive at the course I was doing quite interesting.

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I have just put some bees into a polystyrene hive from Paradise honey in Finland but they haven't been in there long enough to see how they do in New Zealand. I have seen hives in everything from rabbit holes and Penguin boxes to 10 gallon drums which shows how adaptable they are. Dave Black has made some really interesting comments on the history of hives but what I'm really after is comparisons of bee happiness\productivity between the different types of hives when used by the same person in New Zealand.

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I keep bothTBH and Langstroth, both without using foundation. Unfortunately I haven't kept one of each at the same site during any one season so have no real comparison. This year will be the first time having both types of hives at the same site. I do love my top bar hives and they are still my favourite type of hives.

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I have only looked after my bees since November last year, putting the first captured swarm in a Langstoth, I slit this colony in late March into two Langstoths with two queen cells, these two colonies have survived winter though neither as yet are bursting with bees but I hope they will take off soon when Dunedin weather improves. Two latter collected swarms were put into top bar hives, these both struggled to make enough honey for winter on top of building wax, I have had to feed them but at this point they are still alive with eggs, larvae and capped brood and with the fruit trees coming into blossom hopefully will really get going. Anyway I have found the Langstoths easier to manage as in particular one of the top bar hives no matter how often I try to fix I nsist on cross combing and attaching the combs to the sides. Also I find inspecting the top bars more difficult. So bottom line if I was asked by a beginning beekeeper what type of hive I would recommend a langstroth, regards Howie ps I am sure with more thought, And experience, better management of the top bar hives will be possible

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Howard Halliday - my easy tips to getting straight combs in a TB are:

1) Make sure the hive is level (makes a big difference to them building brace comb or not). Leaning hives encourage brace combs.

2) Check any new comb early while its still small & adjust it while its still fresh & soft if you need to - after that theyll be good to follow the lead.

3) Once youve got 2 or more nice straight combs, insert your new bars inbetween those so theyve got a guide to work to & they should automatically keep the beespace between them.

The book: Top-Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder and Health Harrell is brilliant & the best ive come across so far for practical guides to growing & shrinking the hive as per the bees & seasons needs.

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Frames, supering up...that's a long hive, not a top-bar surely.

Which is why I'm getting a twenty frame long hive as well, to see if it's topbar or the long hive set up that I really like. Set lower it can be worked on while seated. Once the combs are drawn well in a top bar it appears easy-peasy but each comb has subtle differences that are a bit time consuming for any manipulating if you're trying to do more than feeding another bar into the brood nest. That being said I will be putting top bar frames into a full deep atop a Lang in the near future. Frames mean I don't have to crop and chop to fit back into a top bar.

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Taking my limited experience I have yet to understand why as often promoted that a Top Bar Hive is a better place for a colony of bees than a langstroth?

its just BS marketing.

top bar is easier for certain beekeepers, not the bees.

there is a reason they fell out of favor a very long time ago.

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Taking my limited experience I have yet to understand why as often promoted that a Top Bar Hive is a better place for a colony of bees than a langstroth?

 

in too many cases it's marketing, pure and simple.

 

there's a book to sell, or a class to sell, or a hive to sell at the end of it.

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in too many cases it's marketing, pure and simple.

 

there's a book to sell, or a class to sell, or a hive to sell at the end of it.

 

Agree, vested interests, authors, tutors, woodworkers, $$$$$ all the way. They all belong on the same shelf as manuka hunters.

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Actually, I have been led to believe that there are very good hobby bk's who use these hives well, and enjoy what they do.

So, I support the right to do it your own way, without being judged so harshly.

 

Speaking of which, how is your chapter on TBH's going ?

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Actually, I have been led to believe that there are very good hobby bk's who use these hives well, and enjoy what they do.

absolutely.

however its the promotion of thats an issue and also "whats best for the bees".

merits of other hive types are overlooked in favor of a type thats less bee friendly.

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