My beekeeping experience spans over 50 years and two continents. When I came to take up beekeeping here in Canada I was horrified to discover only one hive in production. My beekeeping has been based on a number of hives, some I’ve loved and some I’ve hated. The Langstroth is regretfully not one of the ones I’ve loved. So I decided if I can’t buy one to suit my needs, I’ll make my own.
From the ground up I needed a system which would, and does, improve matters for both the bees and beekeeper. A new hive stand, low on the ground, for both security and weatherproofing, to provide dead air space under the hive floor. A new hive floor, which had to be lighter. Square boxes for better wintering, a round cluster will be a better fit in a square than a rectangle. Lighter frames and standard size foundation to fit regular extractors. A better Queen excluder, easier to clean. Shallow honey supers as standard. A better inner cover and finally a controllable ventilation system, this being the main feature. We have succeeded beyond all our dreams. The amount of produce from these hives is just amazing and the workload for the keeper is not excessive.
The deep box or brood box is square 18 x 18. It holds 11 frames, to provide more brood space as I strongly disagree with reducing the number of frames (from 10 to 9) to make it easier for the keeper. We need more brood space not less, fewer frames, fewer bees, less honey. We run our hives on 3 brood boxes, that’s 33 frames in total. In early Spring we find a good Queen will be laying in all 3 boxes. Our frames are different, they’re thinner wood, longer end lugs for you to hold onto. With the separators, it makes for a cleaner hive. You don’t need to pry up each frame to get it out as there is virtually no propolis. We use a diagonal one piece wire foundation and with our ventilation, there is no need to horizontally wire these frames. The Queen excluder is flat, very easy to clean and without the build up of wax and propolis that you’re accustomed to seeing.
The Shallow Super is made to the same specs. as the Deep Box, but uses 6″ drone brood foundation and therefore is much lighter and more manageable for lady apiarists. With the extra large hand holds these are easier on the fingers and back muscles.
The Inner Cover is plywood rather than masonite. We have found that the shiny surface of masonite will sweat and the water beads up. In Winter the condensation freezes and in the Spring melts and eventually this condensation will drip back into the cluster. It is cleated to provide bee space on both sides and mesh covered holes provide ventilation. We have also provided a Winter top opening, which can be opened and closed as needed.
Next is the Ventilation Box. The same as the honey super but with slanted screened holes to provide through ventilation. This works on the same principle as the soffit vents in our houses. The ventilation is controllable, in the Summer we need maximum ventilation and in the winter it is drastically reduced.
The roof has 3 ventilation holes on the front, it’s cleated on the inside to make it ride on top of the ventilation box. One to provide a large open area, the same as our attics, two to provide space for feeder pails etc. So much for the mechanics, now to explain our thinking regarding ventilating bee hives.
The laws of physics are legion. The two we are interested in are “Hot air rises” and “Hot air takes up moisture”. The hot air in the hive rises takes up the moisture from the air that the bees are busy extracting from the nectar they are bringing in. In your hives, because they are sealed in the hot wet air has nowhere to go. Now the bees spend hours fanning trying to get it out of the hive. In our hives, it gets out through the top of the hive easily and without obstruction, which explains our large crops, the hive assists the bees in their efforts.
Another point to ponder. If one of the primary causes for swarming, is, amongst other reasons, too much heat, it stands to reason that with a ventilated hive there should be less swarming tendencies. That is what we have found, in eight years we haven’t had a hive swarm on us.
When we examined other hives in our area we noticed a high incidence of chalk brood. Our information states that chalk brood is a fungus caused by damp conditions within the hive.When we added ventilation to a hive with a high proportion of chalk brood, it was only a short time before the chalk brood disappeared and normal healthy brood prevailed.
We live in an area where the temp. can go from -30C to +40C, our hives are made to withstand these variances of temperature. They are out in a field with no shade or wind breaks and they’re doing just fine. So another of those beekeeping fallacies is not true! You do not have to keep bees behind a wind break or with lots of shade. In fact, my view is they are better off if kept in open conditions, the hives will certainly be drier.
In conclusion, I would like to say. This has to be the Rolls Royce of the hives. If you’re a beekeeper rather than a box keeper, you’ll like to work these hives. They’re easy to open, and much cleaner, you need very little smoke (less disturbance) the bees are healthier and must be happier as they work so hard. So join the revolution and order the latest hive, and enjoy your beekeeping!!!