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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Best Bee Hive, EVER!

The following is a reposting of my original design features.

My design is a top bar hive that:
1) Is stackable for moving and storage.
2) Is easily moved with little or no damage to the top bar comb.
3) Easy to protect from varmints such as skunks.
4) Has a one bee space porch type entrance that;
a) allows guard bees to ambush unwanted guests.
b) is easily closed for moving.
c) can easily be reduced for over wintering.
d) does not allow for flying directly into the hive. This is needed to help keep unwanted guests out.
5) Eliminates or allows the bees to regulate high humidity.
6) Has built in temporary comb storage to allow for easier manipulation and inspection of the hive.
7) Can be "supered" with standard foundation type honey supers.
8) Brood chamber can be expanded easily.
9) Has open or mite screened bottom that can easily be reduced for over winter.
10) Is particularly suited for keeping more aggressive or "African" strains of bees.
11) Allows for a more natural hive development.
12) Honey can be harvested without disturbing the brood.
13) Aggressive bees can be relegated to the brood chamber to allow honey harvest with NO bees flying free to harass the keeper.
14) Up to 10 of these hives can easily be loaded in a US standard 8 foot pickup bed.

Other items:
1) A feeder that can feed either liquid bee feed or honey or solid fondant type food.
2) Rack to fit into a pickup truck to allow for greater ease in movement of hives.
3) Harvesting devices that allow for greater ease and faster harvest times.
4) Modifications to existing harvesting equipment to allow top bars.

Now after 2 years of development I can say that the only thing that has changed is # 6 or the built in temp comb storage. I sacrificed that in favor of making the hive easier to build. After all temp. storage devices should also be temporary, no? I also think # 10 is a misstatement. This hive is suited for all types of bees, especially Africanized honey bees. I can see no reason why a few simple modifications would make this hive perfect for smaller bees like some of the special species in South America that are being farmed for medicinal purposes.

In the other item section I have dropped trying to modify existing harvesting gear. and rack to fit a pickup truck is no longer needed.

By and large the design is simpler, easier and quicker to build. Along with these streamlining design changes came greater flexibility and ease of regional modifications.

I wish I had a trusted bee keeping partner to share the new design. Most people I share it with think I am crazy for keeping bees. They can't seem to get past that and have only casual obligatory praise for "The Best Bee Hive, Ever!"

Google Sketchup

Well I did it.

I learned to use Google Sketchup. I can't say I am a professional but I did create a 3D rendering of my hive.

While working with my brother on my hive earlier this year it became apparent that I needed a drawing. I didn't think I had the skills to create one but now that is all history.

Now when I get help building they will know what I am trying to accomplish and things should go much faster.

I would like to put 8 of these hives in production in the spring.

I did discover how flexible this design is from the 3d rendering. With little effort a person can adapt this design to their personal tastes quite easily.

For example, I designed for 19" top bars. But if you like 18" or 17" or whatever length it is an easy change. If you want wicker or natural fiber sides that is an easy switch. If you like end or middle hive entrance that is an easy switch. How tall do you like your hive or how long do you want it? Almost every dimension is easily changed.

I am once again excited about this hive design. I am still hoping an experienced beekeeper will come on board to help in the real world testing next year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hive Inspection

I may be moving my hives that are at my secondary location. This is the same location that the Chupacabra got into one of my hives last year, see the crime scene post. This year I have no honey. In fact I am worried about the survival of the hive over winter.

There is supposed to be a second honey run in Sept October here in Texas so I am hoping they will make enough honey for the winter. I may need to start feeding them now, but I want to wait and see if they can make it on their own.

A few weeks back I stopped by and found a major pile of dead bees under my hive. I thought that maybe it had been sprayed by the pest control company. They had sprayed the yard a couple weeks before. It very will may have. But they assured me that they have nothing that will kill bees on their regular trucks. "If you want us to spray for bees we have send different people with different chemicals", they said. Reguardless, I did not see any bees flying that day, while they should have been. I had written them off as gonners.

Oh, and I didn't ask for the yard to be sprayed. The story is too long for here. I was upset when I learned of the spaying but could do nothing.

Now back to your previously started story. Yesterday, I decided to go and assess the damage. I was surprised at what I found. A hive full of bees. No honey to speak of and no pollen to speak of but a lot of bees. So I started digging.

Frame after frame of empty comb came out of my topbar hive. the comb was all dark and well walked over. Eventuall I found a few little spots of honey and a few specks of pollen. As I continued I found very little capped or open brood. At this point I felt like this was a lost cause but I kept digging.

In the end I counted 19 bars of comb. I did eventually find some brood and several queen cells. I even spotted the queen. She was not the marked clipped queen I started the hive with so they must have already requeened themself.

It looks like either they don't have enough food source to survive, or their queen failed or got sprayed, or for some other reason they barely made it through the summer. What ever the cause they don't have much in the way of food stores.

But the queen is rite. There were spots of brood scattered across several brood combs and each had a queen cell or two. Then near the entrance was a tight cluster in the center of a couple bar of comb. It was on two bars but 3 sides working from the entrance. There was plenty of young and uncapped brood too. So it would seem they have survivied whatever the disaster and are on the mend.

I need to check them again each week for a while to see how they are preparing for winter. I hope I don't need to move them. I really don't have a new place. I guess I better get one, just in case.