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Getting into beekeeping cheaply

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  • sydwool
    All this talk about the cheapest way to get into beekeeping prompted me to wonder what I would do if that was my goal. The answer skirts legality because
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 28, 2010
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      All this talk about the cheapest way to get into beekeeping prompted me to wonder what I would do if that was my goal. The answer skirts legality because inspection would be difficult, as the 'frames' would not be very movable after the bees built their comb because no management is done to encourage straight combs.

      Essentials:

      - Build 6 boxes of around 1'/0.3m square and around 8"/200m deep from 3/4"/19mmm timber (or outdoor ply).
      - Rabbet a place for bars or glue/screw a strip to hold bars.
      - Build a base out of 1.5"/38mm timber about 2'/0.6m square with a meshed center (to let debris fall through and prevent rodents getting in).
      - Build a top by sandwiching solid foam between layers of 5-8mm ply and use a couple of coats of exterior paint to seal the top and sides. Trim the sides of the top with wood for strength.
      - Cut strips to use as top bars
      - Fill each box with top bars and tack in position (heads left raised for easy removal).
      - Position base on a perimeter of bricks or cement blocks, and level it.
      - Stack the six boxes with 1/4"/6mm scraps across the boundaries to hold them in position.
      - Drill a 3/4" hole in the upper corner on the same side of each box
      - Introduce bees into the top box and walk away.

      Niceties:

      - Do not rabbet the boxes or use strips to hold frames, they mount on the top of the box.
      - Around the outside top of each box glue/screw a 2.5"/63mm perimeter strip that sits above the the bars.
      - Around the outside bottom of each box glue/screw a 1"/25mm perimeter strip flush with the bottom.
      - The perimeter strips stengthen the boxes and make useful handholds when moving them around.
      - The stack sits on the perimeter strips, water that collects between the boxes that rots/weakens the wood affects the perimeter strips which are replaced as needed.

      This would be about as close to a tree cavity as you can get. The bars will not cause the bees to make straight comb, they provide reinforcement between each box.

      A swarm in spring could do well enough to have the brood nest move down. You can tell when this has happened by watching activity at the entrance to each box in the early afternoon when young bees are taking their orientation flights. The entrance(s) they are using are a good clue as to where the brood is being raised.

      Harvesting is done by removing the box(es) above the brood nest. That's easier said than done, as the bees will have comb and propolis holding the boxes together. It may take working a strong thin wire between boxes to break the bond.

      Crush and strain would be used to recover the honey and separate the wax so it does not matter how contorted the combs are because they are going to be destroyed anyway. The bees will have propolized the bars in place so they can be left as-is by tipping the box and cutting the comb out from below.

      The empty boxes can be put back on the stack so that the bees have space above and below the brood nest. This will slow the progression of the brood nest to lower in the stack.

      When the brood nest reaches the lower two boxes, move them to the top of an empty 4-stack.

      Drawbacks:

      This is not a hive that lends itself to inspection. From the colony's perspective that is a positive because the beekeeper can be as much an enemy as a friend. Beekeepers disturb and stress the hive by doing inspections, making treatments, re-arranging frames, scraping propolis, etc.

      Feral bees don't get any help and they do well around here. Colonies are living in attics, chimneys, garden shed walls, garage walls, or the walls of uninsulated houses. Garbage cans are popular too, and homeowners are delighted to have beekeepers cart them away. They can be left in in a corner and harvested after the colony fails. It's illegal because they do not have movable frames, but most colonies left in garbage cans last at least 3 years and sometimes over 6. That's actually a better result than the colonies managed by beekeepers.

      There isn't much interaction with the bees, they are given a home and left alone. This would be extremely hard for new beekeepers who are consumed by curiosity and like to constantly be doing inspections. Maybe that could be helped by making two sides of each box out of acrylic/perspex. You'd have to be lucky with your dumpster diving and be very diligent about covering the clear sides after every looksee though, or the direct sun would cause comb collapse.
    • peter haywood
      That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.  If you fixed the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect, and if you stapled some
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 28, 2010
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        That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.  If you fixed the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect, and if you stapled some beeswax coated kebab sticks along the topbars the bees would build from them with a bit of luck.  You`d be better without all those entrances, it`d get robbed, or would in the UK.  What`s wrong with the standard type of floor?  You`ll find the bees don`t fasten the comb of one box to the top bars of the one below, they leave a beespace, as they do up the sides apart from the first (top) inch generally speaking.
        It`s quite a fun idea isn`t it?
        Pete H
         


        From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
        To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sun, 28 November, 2010 9:14:22
        Subject: [Beekeeping] Getting into beekeeping cheaply

         

        All this talk about the cheapest way to get into beekeeping prompted me to wonder what I would do if that was my goal. The answer skirts legality because inspection would be difficult, as the 'frames' would not be very movable after the bees built their comb because no management is done to encourage straight combs.

        Essentials:

        - Build 6 boxes of around 1'/0.3m square and around 8"/200m deep from 3/4"/19mmm timber (or outdoor ply).
        - Rabbet a place for bars or glue/screw a strip to hold bars.
        - Build a base out of 1.5"/38mm timber about 2'/0.6m square with a meshed center (to let debris fall through and prevent rodents getting in).
        - Build a top by sandwiching solid foam between layers of 5-8mm ply and use a couple of coats of exterior paint to seal the top and sides. Trim the sides of the top with wood for strength.
        - Cut strips to use as top bars
        - Fill each box with top bars and tack in position (heads left raised for easy removal).
        - Position base on a perimeter of bricks or cement blocks, and level it.
        - Stack the six boxes with 1/4"/6mm scraps across the boundaries to hold them in position.
        - Drill a 3/4" hole in the upper corner on the same side of each box
        - Introduce bees into the top box and walk away.

        Niceties:

        - Do not rabbet the boxes or use strips to hold frames, they mount on the top of the box.
        - Around the outside top of each box glue/screw a 2.5"/63mm perimeter strip that sits above the the bars.
        - Around the outside bottom of each box glue/screw a 1"/25mm perimeter strip flush with the bottom.
        - The perimeter strips stengthen the boxes and make useful handholds when moving them around.
        - The stack sits on the perimeter strips, water that collects between the boxes that rots/weakens the wood affects the perimeter strips which are replaced as needed.

        This would be about as close to a tree cavity as you can get. The bars will not cause the bees to make straight comb, they provide reinforcement between each box.

        A swarm in spring could do well enough to have the brood nest move down. You can tell when this has happened by watching activity at the entrance to each box in the early afternoon when young bees are taking their orientation flights. The entrance(s) they are using are a good clue as to where the brood is being raised.

        Harvesting is done by removing the box(es) above the brood nest. That's easier said than done, as the bees will have comb and propolis holding the boxes together. It may take working a strong thin wire between boxes to break the bond.

        Crush and strain would be used to recover the honey and separate the wax so it does not matter how contorted the combs are because they are going to be destroyed anyway. The bees will have propolized the bars in place so they can be left as-is by tipping the box and cutting the comb out from below.

        The empty boxes can be put back on the stack so that the bees have space above and below the brood nest. This will slow the progression of the brood nest to lower in the stack.

        When the brood nest reaches the lower two boxes, move them to the top of an empty 4-stack.

        Drawbacks:

        This is not a hive that lends itself to inspection. From the colony's perspective that is a positive because the beekeeper can be as much an enemy as a friend. Beekeepers disturb and stress the hive by doing inspections, making treatments, re-arranging frames, scraping propolis, etc.

        Feral bees don't get any help and they do well around here. Colonies are living in attics, chimneys, garden shed walls, garage walls, or the walls of uninsulated houses. Garbage cans are popular too, and homeowners are delighted to have beekeepers cart them away. They can be left in in a corner and harvested after the colony fails. It's illegal because they do not have movable frames, but most colonies left in garbage cans last at least 3 years and sometimes over 6. That's actually a better result than the colonies managed by beekeepers.

        There isn't much interaction with the bees, they are given a home and left alone. This would be extremely hard for new beekeepers who are consumed by curiosity and like to constantly be doing inspections. Maybe that could be helped by making two sides of each box out of acrylic/perspex. You'd have to be lucky with your dumpster diving and be very diligent about covering the clear sides after every looksee though, or the direct sun would cause comb collapse.


      • baldbeeman
        Wow, I totally agree with Peter here. You re really describing Warré hives and beekeeping almost to a T. Don t leave this group but do consider joining the
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 29, 2010
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          Wow, I totally agree with Peter here. You're really describing Warré hives and beekeeping almost to a "T." Don't leave this group but do consider joining the yahoogroup named warrebeekeeping. You can read all the messages without joining, but if you sign up you can also see all the files, photos, etc. Yes you can do this inexpensively. You don't have to spend nearly so much as those gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) red cedar hives from http://thewarrestore.com/ cost.

          baldbeeman

          --- In Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com, peter haywood <samphorgatherer@...> wrote:
          >
          > That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.  If you fixed
          > the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect, and if you stapled some
          > beeswax coated kebab sticks along the topbars the bees would build from them
          > with a bit of luck.  You`d be better without all those entrances, it`d get
          > robbed, or would in the UK.  What`s wrong with the standard type of floor? 
          > You`ll find the bees don`t fasten the comb of one box to the top bars of the one
          > below, they leave a beespace, as they do up the sides apart from the first (top)
          > inch generally speaking.
          > It`s quite a fun idea isn`t it?
          > Pete H
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ________________________________
          > From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
          > To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Sun, 28 November, 2010 9:14:22
          > Subject: [Beekeeping] Getting into beekeeping cheaply
          >
          >  
          > All this talk about the cheapest way to get into beekeeping prompted me to
          > wonder what I would do if that was my goal. The answer skirts legality because
          > inspection would be difficult, as the 'frames' would not be very movable after
          > the bees built their comb because no management is done to encourage straight
          > combs.
          >
          > Essentials:
          >
          > - Build 6 boxes of around 1'/0.3m square and around 8"/200m deep from 3/4"/19mmm
          > timber (or outdoor ply).
          > - Rabbet a place for bars or glue/screw a strip to hold bars.
          > - Build a base out of 1.5"/38mm timber about 2'/0.6m square with a meshed center
          > (to let debris fall through and prevent rodents getting in).
          > - Build a top by sandwiching solid foam between layers of 5-8mm ply and use a
          > couple of coats of exterior paint to seal the top and sides. Trim the sides of
          > the top with wood for strength.
          > - Cut strips to use as top bars
          > - Fill each box with top bars and tack in position (heads left raised for easy
          > removal).
          > - Position base on a perimeter of bricks or cement blocks, and level it.
          > - Stack the six boxes with 1/4"/6mm scraps across the boundaries to hold them in
          > position.
          > - Drill a 3/4" hole in the upper corner on the same side of each box
          > - Introduce bees into the top box and walk away.
          >
          > Niceties:
          >
          > - Do not rabbet the boxes or use strips to hold frames, they mount on the top of
          > the box.
          > - Around the outside top of each box glue/screw a 2.5"/63mm perimeter strip that
          > sits above the the bars.
          > - Around the outside bottom of each box glue/screw a 1"/25mm perimeter strip
          > flush with the bottom.
          > - The perimeter strips stengthen the boxes and make useful handholds when moving
          > them around.
          > - The stack sits on the perimeter strips, water that collects between the boxes
          > that rots/weakens the wood affects the perimeter strips which are replaced as
          > needed.
          >
          > This would be about as close to a tree cavity as you can get. The bars will not
          > cause the bees to make straight comb, they provide reinforcement between each
          > box.
          >
          > A swarm in spring could do well enough to have the brood nest move down. You can
          > tell when this has happened by watching activity at the entrance to each box in
          > the early afternoon when young bees are taking their orientation flights. The
          > entrance(s) they are using are a good clue as to where the brood is being
          > raised.
          >
          > Harvesting is done by removing the box(es) above the brood nest. That's easier
          > said than done, as the bees will have comb and propolis holding the boxes
          > together. It may take working a strong thin wire between boxes to break the
          > bond.
          >
          > Crush and strain would be used to recover the honey and separate the wax so it
          > does not matter how contorted the combs are because they are going to be
          > destroyed anyway. The bees will have propolized the bars in place so they can be
          > left as-is by tipping the box and cutting the comb out from below.
          >
          > The empty boxes can be put back on the stack so that the bees have space above
          > and below the brood nest. This will slow the progression of the brood nest to
          > lower in the stack.
          >
          > When the brood nest reaches the lower two boxes, move them to the top of an
          > empty 4-stack.
          >
          > Drawbacks:
          >
          > This is not a hive that lends itself to inspection. From the colony's
          > perspective that is a positive because the beekeeper can be as much an enemy as
          > a friend. Beekeepers disturb and stress the hive by doing inspections, making
          > treatments, re-arranging frames, scraping propolis, etc.
          >
          > Feral bees don't get any help and they do well around here. Colonies are living
          > in attics, chimneys, garden shed walls, garage walls, or the walls of
          > uninsulated houses. Garbage cans are popular too, and homeowners are delighted
          > to have beekeepers cart them away. They can be left in in a corner and harvested
          > after the colony fails. It's illegal because they do not have movable frames,
          > but most colonies left in garbage cans last at least 3 years and sometimes over
          > 6. That's actually a better result than the colonies managed by beekeepers.
          >
          > There isn't much interaction with the bees, they are given a home and left
          > alone. This would be extremely hard for new beekeepers who are consumed by
          > curiosity and like to constantly be doing inspections. Maybe that could be
          > helped by making two sides of each box out of acrylic/perspex. You'd have to be
          > lucky with your dumpster diving and be very diligent about covering the clear
          > sides after every looksee though, or the direct sun would cause comb collapse.
          >
        • sydwool
          Hi Pete, ... From what I;ve read David s site, he follows the Warre procedures and has built himself a lift. I don t see the need for lifting, so left it out.
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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            Hi Pete,

            > That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.

            From what I;ve read David's site, he follows the Warre procedures and has built himself a lift. I don't see the need for lifting, so left it out.

            > If you fixed the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect

            First up, that's a lot messier and takes more time. Secondly, you miss the point, I don't want to inspect!

            My interaction with the lang brood nest happens once/year, and that's in spring to open up the space by giving the bees new comb to draw out for the queen. All other hive management deals only with the storage space. The logic is that if ferals in garbage cans average 5 years before failing, why not hives?

            > If you stapled some beeswax coated kebab sticks along the topbars
            > the bees would build from them with a bit of luck

            I've got 20 years into experimenting with various starter strip approaches and have never had a colony build straight combs when the bees are introduced to a hive with all starter strips.

            > You`d be better without all those entrances, it`d get
            > robbed, or would in the UK.

            My Langs run with holes in every box and robbing does not happen. Robbing occurs in periods of dearth, and as I wrote previously, in this suburban area we don't have them. I worried about it originally, so used corks in the lower holes, but it turned out not to matter.

            > What`s wrong with the standard type of floor?

            It is indefensible by a weak hive, and hard to defend by a strong hive. Bees don't need a landing pad, and you don't see feral colonies living in locations with cavernous openings. It is much easier to defend six small holes than an open cavity 14" wide.

            > You`ll find the bees don`t fasten the comb of one box to the top bars of
            > the one below, they leave a beespace, as they do up the sides apart from
            > the first (top) inch generally speaking.

            My bees are not that clever, they don't treat top bars as a floor but as something to incorporate into the continuous comb. The only way to alter that behaviour is with intervention. Lang/National hives have a bee space between boxes and the bees don't see that as a floor, they build comb. Beeks don't burr comb but when bees in a Lang/National super ignore the 'floor' of frames below you can't expect bees in a vertical top bar to behave any differently.

            > It`s quite a fun idea isn`t it?

            I did it many years using Lang mediums, long before David translated the Abbe's book. Langs are not suitable because they are bulky, a real nuisance when you are trying to separate a successful hive. The Warre box is a more suitable size for this kind of hive, so if I wanted to go incompatible I'd do it that way.

            Since the premise is to go cheap there is no compatibility issue, and dumpster diving is likely to provide timber more suitable to small boxes than large. From a woodworking point of view, cutting timber or ply into one size is easier than multiple sizes. You can't get any more modular than the same part used many times and building a jig to assemble the same box over and over makes it even easier.
          • peter haywood
            I did join it at one stage, but the volume of mail coming in was a bit too much, and I don`t keep Warres myself.  Besides, in among the good ideas there`s an
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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              I did join it at one stage, but the volume of mail coming in was a bit too much, and I don`t keep Warres myself.  Besides, in among the good ideas there`s an awful lot of dross, as in the whole Warre system, as originally laid out, in my opinion, though I`m always open to being proved wrong,
              Pete H


              From: baldbeeman <bullmouse@...>
              To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Mon, 29 November, 2010 23:15:19
              Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: Getting into beekeeping cheaply

               

              Wow, I totally agree with Peter here. You're really describing Warré hives and beekeeping almost to a "T." Don't leave this group but do consider joining the yahoogroup named warrebeekeeping. You can read all the messages without joining, but if you sign up you can also see all the files, photos, etc. Yes you can do this inexpensively. You don't have to spend nearly so much as those gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) red cedar hives from http://thewarrestore.com/ cost.

              baldbeeman

              --- In Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com, peter haywood <samphorgatherer@...> wrote:
              >
              > That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.  If you fixed
              > the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect, and if you stapled some
              > beeswax coated kebab sticks along the topbars the bees would build from them
              > with a bit of luck.  You`d be better without all those entrances, it`d get
              > robbed, or would in the UK.  What`s wrong with the standard type of floor? 
              > You`ll find the bees don`t fasten the comb of one box to the top bars of the one
              > below, they leave a beespace, as they do up the sides apart from the first (top)
              > inch generally speaking.
              > It`s quite a fun idea isn`t it?
              > Pete H
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > ________________________________
              > From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
              > To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Sun, 28 November, 2010 9:14:22
              > Subject: [Beekeeping] Getting into beekeeping cheaply
              >
              >  
              > All this talk about the cheapest way to get into beekeeping prompted me to
              > wonder what I would do if that was my goal. The answer skirts legality because
              > inspection would be difficult, as the 'frames' would not be very movable after
              > the bees built their comb because no management is done to encourage straight
              > combs.
              >
              > Essentials:
              >
              > - Build 6 boxes of around 1'/0.3m square and around 8"/200m deep from 3/4"/19mmm
              > timber (or outdoor ply).
              > - Rabbet a place for bars or glue/screw a strip to hold bars.
              > - Build a base out of 1.5"/38mm timber about 2'/0.6m square with a meshed center
              > (to let debris fall through and prevent rodents getting in).
              > - Build a top by sandwiching solid foam between layers of 5-8mm ply and use a
              > couple of coats of exterior paint to seal the top and sides. Trim the sides of
              > the top with wood for strength.
              > - Cut strips to use as top bars
              > - Fill each box with top bars and tack in position (heads left raised for easy
              > removal).
              > - Position base on a perimeter of bricks or cement blocks, and level it.
              > - Stack the six boxes with 1/4"/6mm scraps across the boundaries to hold them in
              > position.
              > - Drill a 3/4" hole in the upper corner on the same side of each box
              > - Introduce bees into the top box and walk away.
              >
              > Niceties:
              >
              > - Do not rabbet the boxes or use strips to hold frames, they mount on the top of
              > the box.
              > - Around the outside top of each box glue/screw a 2.5"/63mm perimeter strip that
              > sits above the the bars.
              > - Around the outside bottom of each box glue/screw a 1"/25mm perimeter strip
              > flush with the bottom.
              > - The perimeter strips stengthen the boxes and make useful handholds when moving
              > them around.
              > - The stack sits on the perimeter strips, water that collects between the boxes
              > that rots/weakens the wood affects the perimeter strips which are replaced as
              > needed.
              >
              > This would be about as close to a tree cavity as you can get. The bars will not
              > cause the bees to make straight comb, they provide reinforcement between each
              > box.
              >
              > A swarm in spring could do well enough to have the brood nest move down. You can
              > tell when this has happened by watching activity at the entrance to each box in
              > the early afternoon when young bees are taking their orientation flights. The
              > entrance(s) they are using are a good clue as to where the brood is being
              > raised.
              >
              > Harvesting is done by removing the box(es) above the brood nest. That's easier
              > said than done, as the bees will have comb and propolis holding the boxes
              > together. It may take working a strong thin wire between boxes to break the
              > bond.
              >
              > Crush and strain would be used to recover the honey and separate the wax so it
              > does not matter how contorted the combs are because they are going to be
              > destroyed anyway. The bees will have propolized the bars in place so they can be
              > left as-is by tipping the box and cutting the comb out from below.
              >
              > The empty boxes can be put back on the stack so that the bees have space above
              > and below the brood nest. This will slow the progression of the brood nest to
              > lower in the stack.
              >
              > When the brood nest reaches the lower two boxes, move them to the top of an
              > empty 4-stack.
              >
              > Drawbacks:
              >
              > This is not a hive that lends itself to inspection. From the colony's
              > perspective that is a positive because the beekeeper can be as much an enemy as
              > a friend. Beekeepers disturb and stress the hive by doing inspections, making
              > treatments, re-arranging frames, scraping propolis, etc.
              >
              > Feral bees don't get any help and they do well around here. Colonies are living
              > in attics, chimneys, garden shed walls, garage walls, or the walls of
              > uninsulated houses. Garbage cans are popular too, and homeowners are delighted
              > to have beekeepers cart them away. They can be left in in a corner and harvested
              > after the colony fails. It's illegal because they do not have movable frames,
              > but most colonies left in garbage cans last at least 3 years and sometimes over
              > 6. That's actually a better result than the colonies managed by beekeepers.
              >
              > There isn't much interaction with the bees, they are given a home and left
              > alone. This would be extremely hard for new beekeepers who are consumed by
              > curiosity and like to constantly be doing inspections. Maybe that could be
              > helped by making two sides of each box out of acrylic/perspex. You'd have to be
              > lucky with your dumpster diving and be very diligent about covering the clear
              > sides after every looksee though, or the direct sun would cause comb collapse.
              >


            • sydwool
              Hi Mike, ... Where in what I wrote did you see any mention of foundation? The main point here was the COST of building one box vs another and if the starting
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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                Hi Mike,

                > I think the main point here is that it is a lot easier to build the long
                > box (TBH) and top bars than it is to build standard rectangular boxes,
                > frames, and then adding foundation.

                Where in what I wrote did you see any mention of foundation?

                The 'main point here' was the COST of building one box vs another and if the starting point is free timber, a woodworker can build any series of boxes of any size, for about the same cost.

                The TBH is not innately cheaper and can be a damned sight harder to make properly because it needs to be straight for >3' on both sides from a material which tends to bow. A 1/4" bow in 3' is conservative, and that's a 1/2" difference in width between the center and the ends. That may or may not be a big deal, it depends on the lid design.

                > In the top bar hive, dimensions are not nearly as critical as it is
                > with standard hives and their accompanying frames and foundation
                > where dimensions are exact because of bee space.

                Surely you cannot believe that old myth, it only applies to the first TBH you build. As soon as you build the second random sized TBH you realize what a mistake it was.

                No beekeeper should ever deliberately set out to make every box a different size because it would be impossible to transfer combs between them. Hive management of nucs, boosting colonies, syrup feeders, etc would be infinitely harder. Not to say that you couldn't keep bees that way, but you'd be making life a lot harder for yourself.

                After building the first or second box to any dimension you want, you better keep building to one set of dimensions for purposes of compatibility within your own apiary. Les Crowder, Marty Hardison and Scott McPherson are beeks who run lots (100s) of TBHs and although their designs may differ, they are common within their own operation.

                I can't imagine how difficult it would be to manage six TBHs of different sizes, and have no desire to find out. Dennis Morrell knows, he kept experimenting with different sizes trying to find an ideal and the last I checked it was a KTBH large enough to hold Lang deep frames.

                Whether the boxes you choose to build are standard or unique, the dimensions matter just as much.
              • sydwool
                Hi baldbeeman, ... Not really. There is a basic and essential delineation I do not subscribe to which is that new boxes are added at the bottom. Not for me,
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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                  Hi baldbeeman,

                  > Wow, I totally agree with Peter here. You're really describing Warré hives and
                  > beekeeping almost to a "T."

                  Not really.

                  There is a basic and essential delineation I do not subscribe to which is that new boxes are added at the bottom.

                  Not for me, the stack is maintained by putting the boxes harvested from the top back on the top. That's a huge difference because adding new boxes below is a tenet of Abbe Warre's management philosophy.

                  I have zero interest in building a warre, as it is incompatible with my horizontal and vertical langs. If I were to go incompatible, it would be as an alpine because it uses frames. Colonies can be manipulated with lang techniques like checkerboarding to boost productivity and reduce swarming. That's not the cheapest approach, so it is a tangent.

                  The title of my post was 'beekeeping cheaply' and I'd be interested in reading about variations that don't fit the typical mold of TBH or warre.
                • peter haywood
                  Your Langs are a lot longer than Warres for a start.  David Heafs build straight most of the time and so do others I`ve seen, but they sometimes don`t in my
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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                    Your Langs are a lot longer than Warres for a start.  David Heafs build straight most of the time and so do others I`ve seen, but they sometimes don`t in my commercial supers.  Your bees and honey flows may both be quite different to mine, as might your fauna with regard to robbing.  I get wasps, mice, rats, woodpeckers and even the occasional badger trying to steal a meal from my hives.  I do see multi entrance hives but where I`ve seen this without a queen excluder it seems to lead to brood being all over the place rather than just by the single floor entrance, where I want it. 
                     
                    I`m afraid having your hive inspected is a legal requirement in the UK.  If there were an outbreak of EFB close by and your hives could not be inspected and found to be clear, the Bee Inspector would be expected to destroy them, and there`d be an outcry from other local beekeepers if that didn`t happen. 

                    I use all standard floors without a landing board and with an entrance block for most of the year restricting the entrance to about 2.5-3" x 5/16", in summer I swap that for two 6" blocks giving a 4" full depth entrance.   It is my belief that too big an entrance leads to cooling of the lower part of the broodnest, which in my experience can lead to a number of health problems including an increase in varroa and chalkbrood
                     
                    I daresay left long enough our bees would treat all as a continuous comb too, particularly with narrower top bars.  They certainly seem to in well established ferals I have to inspect, so I`ll concede that one to you, with your greater experience in the field!
                     
                    Pete H

                    From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
                    To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Tue, 30 November, 2010 8:27:13
                    Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: Getting into beekeeping cheaply

                     

                    Hi Pete,

                    > That sounds pretty much like David Heafs Warre hives in essence.

                    From what I;ve read David's site, he follows the Warre procedures and has built himself a lift. I don't see the need for lifting, so left it out.

                    > If you fixed the top bars with beeswax they`d be easier to inspect

                    First up, that's a lot messier and takes more time. Secondly, you miss the point, I don't want to inspect!

                    My interaction with the lang brood nest happens once/year, and that's in spring to open up the space by giving the bees new comb to draw out for the queen. All other hive management deals only with the storage space. The logic is that if ferals in garbage cans average 5 years before failing, why not hives?

                    > If you stapled some beeswax coated kebab sticks along the topbars
                    > the bees would build from them with a bit of luck

                    I've got 20 years into experimenting with various starter strip approaches and have never had a colony build straight combs when the bees are introduced to a hive with all starter strips.

                    > You`d be better without all those entrances, it`d get
                    > robbed, or would in the UK.

                    My Langs run with holes in every box and robbing does not happen. Robbing occurs in periods of dearth, and as I wrote previously, in this suburban area we don't have them. I worried about it originally, so used corks in the lower holes, but it turned out not to matter.

                    > What`s wrong with the standard type of floor?

                    It is indefensible by a weak hive, and hard to defend by a strong hive. Bees don't need a landing pad, and you don't see feral colonies living in locations with cavernous openings. It is much easier to defend six small holes than an open cavity 14" wide.

                    > You`ll find the bees don`t fasten the comb of one box to the top bars of
                    > the one below, they leave a beespace, as they do up the sides
                    apart from
                    > the first (top) inch generally speaking.

                    My bees are not that clever, they don't treat top bars as a floor but as something to incorporate into the continuous comb. The only way to alter that behaviour is with intervention. Lang/National hives have a bee space between boxes and the bees don't see that as a floor, they build comb. Beeks don't burr comb but when bees in a Lang/National super ignore the 'floor' of frames below you can't expect bees in a vertical top bar to behave any differently.

                    > It`s quite a fun idea isn`t it?

                    I did it many years using Lang mediums, long before David translated the Abbe's book. Langs are not suitable because they are bulky, a real nuisance when you are trying to separate a successful hive. The Warre box is a more suitable size for this kind of hive, so if I wanted to go incompatible I'd do it that way.

                    Since the premise is to go cheap there is no compatibility issue, and dumpster diving is likely to provide timber more suitable to small boxes than large. From a woodworking point of view, cutting timber or ply into one size is easier than multiple sizes. You can't get any more modular than the same part used many times and building a jig to assemble the same box over and over makes it even easier.


                  • sydwool
                    Hi Pete, ... Part of the experiment involved running the bars crosswise, and though that helped a lot, it still did not result in straight comb. ... If that s
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 30, 2010
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                      Hi Pete,

                      > Your Langs are a lot longer than Warres for a start.

                      Part of the experiment involved running the bars crosswise, and though that helped a lot, it still did not result in straight comb.

                      > David Heafs build straight most of the time and so do others I`ve
                      > seen, but they sometimes don`t in my commercial supers.

                      If that's without intervention I am surprised (and impressed).

                      > Your bees and honey flows may both be quite different to mine

                      I'd rather believe those reasons than blame the beekeeper...

                      > I get wasps, mice, rats, woodpeckers and even the occasional badger
                      > trying to steal a meal from my hives.

                      I don't have the badgers, but skunks love bees. We even have had a possum chowing down, so set a raccoon trap baited with honeycomb. It was released next day and never came back.

                      > without a queen excluder it seems to lead to brood being all over
                      > the place rather than just by the single floor entrance,

                      I stopped using excluders on the vertical langs over 20 years ago, and can count the number of times a queen has laid in the supers on my fingers.

                      > I`m afraid having your hive inspected is a legal requirement in the UK.

                      It is here too, which is why I wrote that my idea skirted legality. However, it is a toothless requirement due to lack of enforcement.

                      Nobody in the club has seen EFB or AFB. Varroa is the biggest issue and chalkbrood is not unusual. SHBs turned up a few years but are not causing colonies to fail like they do in the southeast.

                      > if...your hives could not be inspected and found to be clear, the Bee
                      > Inspector would be expected to destroy them,

                      That's what ought to be done, but there have been no inspectors for years, and they are sorely missed. The ones that used to come around were experienced and very generous with their advice and guidance.

                      I use the non-inspectables like garbage cans as control colonies. Observing them has changed the way I practice beekeeping, and the results are now comparable (possibly better) from hives. That was not always true.

                      > most of the year restricting the entrance to about 2.5-3" x 5/16", in
                      > summer I swap that for two 6" blocks giving a 4" full depth entrance.

                      When you wrote 'standard base' in your last note I read 'landing board and full width entrance'.

                      > It is my belief that too big an entrance leads to cooling of the lower
                      > part of the broodnest, which in my experience can lead to a number of
                      > health problems including an increase in varroa and chalkbrood

                      Cooling/chilling is pretty much a non-issue here but I can confirm that holes-only has improved hive health. We may be on to something even if it was for different reasons and has been addressed in different ways.

                      The one thing that comes through very clearly is that beekeeping is definitely local. It is easy to understand why beeks can disagree on the merits of a technique, the results for each could have been totally opposite.

                      > I daresay left long enough our bees would treat all as a continuous comb
                      > too, particularly with narrower top bars. They certainly seem to in well
                      > established ferals I have to inspect

                      You're into ferals as well. It was recognizing that ferals were doing better than my hives that caused me to change my ways. The strongest feral nests have consistently been between the joists of first and second floor.

                      That's what led me to try horizontals but have been unable to achieve the same volume of nest. I attribute that to the bees recognizing there is limited space available. Between the joists would be seemingly 'infinite' space from one side of the house to the other - the equivalent of a stack of empty supers above the brood nest. I can't justify building an 8' long horizontal to test the theory though (keeping the sides straight would be a challenge).
                    • peter haywood
                      You say, You into ferals as well?    Well when we first got varroa here a lot of people lost bees and apiaries got abandoned, gradually people died, lost
                      Message 10 of 15 , Dec 1, 2010
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                        You say,"You into ferals as well?"   Well when we first got varroa here a lot of people lost bees and apiaries got abandoned, gradually people died, lost interest or maybe moved away.  In many cases these hives became re-populated and the bees survived.  I have to keep an eye on them just to keep the records straight in case of a serious disease outbreak, so I been observing some for as long as 10 years and seeing how they`ve gained strength and number, along with a number of building and tree ferals in the area.  I`ve been seriously into collecting feral swarms and raising nucs from hive ferals now for two years, the same length of time I`ve been witholding varroa treatment from my other bees.  In fact my old stock seem to have settled fine into non- treatment so many of the feral nucs I`ve raised have been passed on to beginners.  I guess most of the drones flying in my locality now will be from untreated colonies as only a few beeks are still treating.
                         
                        When I leave excluders off the broodnest often moves up into the supers, with the bees using the central one or two combs for brood.  This only happens between flows, otherwise the honey pushes the bees down into the bottom 5 or 6 " of the brood combs.  Trouble is you never quite know here when flows are going to start or stop due to our oceanic weather patterns.  Also some honeys we have are thixotropic so can only be extracted by crushing the comb, not easy if it`s had brood in.
                         
                        Pete H


                        From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
                        To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Wed, 1 December, 2010 5:53:19
                        Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: Getting into beekeeping cheaply

                         

                        Hi Pete,

                        > Your Langs are a lot longer than Warres for a start.

                        Part of the experiment involved running the bars crosswise, and though that helped a lot, it still did not result in straight comb.

                        > David Heafs build straight most of the time and so do others I`ve
                        > seen, but they sometimes don`t in my commercial supers.

                        If that's without intervention I am surprised (and impressed).

                        > Your bees and honey flows may both be quite different to mine

                        I'd rather believe those reasons than blame the beekeeper...

                        > I get wasps, mice, rats, woodpeckers and even the occasional badger
                        > trying to steal a meal from my hives.

                        I don't have the badgers, but skunks love bees. We even have had a possum chowing down, so set a raccoon trap baited with honeycomb. It was released next day and never came back.

                        > without a queen excluder it seems to lead to brood being all over
                        >
                        the place rather than just by the single floor entrance,

                        I stopped using excluders on the vertical langs over 20 years ago, and can count the number of times a queen has laid in the supers on my fingers.

                        > I`m afraid having your hive inspected is a legal requirement in the UK.

                        It is here too, which is why I wrote that my idea skirted legality. However, it is a toothless requirement due to lack of enforcement.

                        Nobody in the club has seen EFB or AFB. Varroa is the biggest issue and chalkbrood is not unusual. SHBs turned up a few years but are not causing colonies to fail like they do in the southeast.

                        > if...your hives could not be inspected and found to be clear, the Bee
                        > Inspector would be expected to destroy them,

                        That's what ought to be done, but there have been no inspectors for years, and they are sorely missed. The ones that used to come around were experienced and very generous with their advice and guidance.

                        I use the non-inspectables like garbage cans as control colonies. Observing them has changed the way I practice beekeeping, and the results are now comparable (possibly better) from hives. That was not always true.

                        > most of the year restricting the entrance to about 2.5-3" x 5/16", in
                        > summer I swap that for two 6" blocks giving a 4" full depth entrance.

                        When you wrote 'standard base' in your last note I read 'landing board and full width entrance'.

                        > It is my belief that too big an entrance leads to cooling of the lower
                        > part of the broodnest, which in my experience can lead to a number of
                        > health problems including an increase in varroa and chalkbrood

                        Cooling/chilling is pretty much a non-issue here but I can confirm that holes-only has improved hive health. We may be on to something even if it was for different reasons and has been addressed in different ways.

                        The one thing that comes through very clearly is that beekeeping is definitely local. It is easy to understand why beeks can disagree on the merits of a technique, the results for each could have been totally opposite.

                        > I daresay left long enough our bees would treat all as a continuous comb
                        > too, particularly with narrower top bars. They certainly seem to in well
                        > established ferals I have to inspect

                        You're into ferals as well. It was recognizing that ferals were doing better than my hives that caused me to change my ways. The strongest feral nests have consistently been between the joists of first and second floor.

                        That's what led me to try horizontals but have been unable to achieve the same volume of nest. I attribute that to the bees recognizing there is limited space available. Between the joists would be seemingly 'infinite' space from one side of the house to the other - the equivalent of a stack of empty supers above the brood nest. I can't justify building an 8' long horizontal to test the theory though (keeping the sides straight would be a challenge).


                      • sydwool
                        Hi Pete, ... Same thing, after 3 years of varroa I saw no point, but 10 years later people were calling the fire department and city council for swarms and
                        Message 11 of 15 , Dec 3, 2010
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                          Hi Pete,

                          > ...when we first got varroa here a lot of people lost bees
                          > and apiaries got abandoned

                          Same thing, after 3 years of varroa I saw no point, but 10 years later people were calling the fire department and city council for swarms and nests in their walls. My name was still in the rolodex, so that pulled me back into the game. It took a couple of years to realize that the way I'd learned to keep bees resulted in death over winter so that was my conversion to observing and learning from the feral removals.

                          I still had foundation from the old days so used that and for a couple of years I sent wax to a guy who rolled foundation for me. After he gave it away I started playing with foundationless, and have tested every variation I read about on the web.

                          > you never quite know here when flows are going to start or
                          > stop due to our oceanic weather patterns.

                          Consistent availability of nectar makes management far simpler, but OTOH, we never get the rush of a heavy flow and bees packing in several pounds of honey a day. That used to happen when there were large swathes of empty lots and the schools/colleges had many acres that were still wild. Much of the area was covered in weeds, many/most of which were nectar bearing. No longer, neatly trimmed yards, gardeners, hybrid flowers, buildings and parking lots have replaced the weeds.

                          > Also some honeys
                          > we have are thixotropic so can only be extracted by
                          > crushing the comb, not easy if it`s had brood in.

                          Most of the honey in a feral nest is in brood combs, so have spent many years crushing them. I suspect the method I use is similar to yours, the center rib is strong enough that a steak knife can be used to cut the cells off on both sides. The ribs are left upright around the sides and only the cells are crushed.

                          It used to be a long process to drain the honey until our old refrigerator died and was moved into the shed. A cheap 8" square radiator was modified to run the fan whenever power was on so that air was constantly circulating. A wireless outdoor thermometer on the top shelf helped calibrate the heat settings to temperature.

                          Thixotropic would be way more difficult because it requires being shaken to liquefy. Did you find a hardware store going under and buy the paint shaker to help with the extraction?
                        • peter haywood
                          Hi Syd              I generally scrape it back to the midrib using a dessert spoon and store it in 30lb buckets until I`m ready to bottle it. 
                          Message 12 of 15 , Dec 4, 2010
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                            Hi Syd
                                         I generally scrape it back to the midrib using a dessert spoon and store it in 30lb buckets until I`m ready to bottle it.  I`ve got an insulated cabinet heated by incandescent light bulbs at present, into which I put the buckets to warm until its runny enough, then pour it into a fine cotton filter cloth and squeeze by hand that which doesn`t run straight through.  You have to do a little at a time at first `cos it`s mostly wax but after the first few laddles full it pretty much pours through.  I don`t generally get more than half a ton even on a brilliant season so it`s not too much trouble.  If you have a lot of ex-brood combs I find you can get a taint of propolis in the honey when you warm it, plus it won`t easily scrape off the midrib with a spoon.
                            The Heather honey we get resets so it won`t run in minutes, but it`s much easier to handle at blood heat. 
                             
                            We still have plenty of wild country round here but beekeepers in UK cities seem to do very well from plants in parks and gardens too. 
                             
                            Pete H 

                            From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
                            To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Sat, 4 December, 2010 6:27:55
                            Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: Getting into beekeeping cheaply

                             

                            Hi Pete,

                            > ...when we first got varroa here a lot of people lost bees
                            > and apiaries got abandoned

                            Same thing, after 3 years of varroa I saw no point, but 10 years later people were calling the fire department and city council for swarms and nests in their walls. My name was still in the rolodex, so that pulled me back into the game. It took a couple of years to realize that the way I'd learned to keep bees resulted in death over winter so that was my conversion to observing and learning from the feral removals.

                            I still had foundation from the old days so used that and for a couple of years I sent wax to a guy who rolled foundation for me. After he gave it away I started playing with foundationless, and have tested every variation I read about on the web.

                            > you never quite know here when flows are going to start or
                            > stop due to our oceanic weather patterns.

                            Consistent availability of nectar makes management far simpler, but OTOH, we never get the rush of a heavy flow and bees packing in several pounds of honey a day. That used to happen when there were large swathes of empty lots and the schools/colleges had many acres that were still wild. Much of the area was covered in weeds, many/most of which were nectar bearing. No longer, neatly trimmed yards, gardeners, hybrid flowers, buildings and parking lots have replaced the weeds.

                            > Also some honeys
                            > we have are thixotropic so can only be extracted by
                            > crushing the comb, not easy if it`s had brood in.

                            Most of the honey in a feral nest is in brood combs, so have spent many years crushing them. I suspect the method I use is similar to yours, the center rib is strong enough that a steak knife can be used to cut the cells off on both sides. The ribs are left upright around the sides and only the cells are crushed.

                            It used to be a long process to drain the honey until our old refrigerator died and was moved into the shed. A cheap 8" square radiator was modified to run the fan whenever power was on so that air was constantly circulating. A wireless outdoor thermometer on the top shelf helped calibrate the heat settings to temperature.

                            Thixotropic would be way more difficult because it requires being shaken to liquefy. Did you find a hardware store going under and buy the paint shaker to help with the extraction?


                          • sydwool
                            ... You must be a sight after squeezing those cloths by hand, I would not enjoy getting so sticky. My system relies on pairs of 60lb buckets and gravity. a)
                            Message 13 of 15 , Dec 5, 2010
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                              > generally scrape it back to the midrib using a dessert spoon and
                              > store it in 30lb buckets until I`m ready to bottle it...
                              > ...then pour it into a fine cotton filter cloth and squeeze
                              > by hand that which doesn`t run straight through.

                              You must be a sight after squeezing those cloths by hand, I would not enjoy getting so sticky.

                              My system relies on pairs of 60lb buckets and gravity.

                              a) About 40% of the top bucket is cut off
                              b) A coarse strainer is screwed in place with the base sitting just above the cut line
                              c) A 60cm sq fine nylon mesh is set on top of the bottom bucket which has a gate
                              d) The mesh is pushed down when the top bucket is dropped in position
                              e) A strap is used around the rim to hold the mesh tight

                              > If you have a lot of ex-brood combs I find you can get
                              > a taint of propolis in the honey when you warm it, plus
                              > it won`t easily scrape off the midrib with a spoon.

                              I have never noticed even a hint of propolis. The combs are held in a cool storage area for a day or so after the removal, and are stiff. The comb is held above the top bucket, the cells are cut away and fall in.

                              After draining in the refrigerator at 38C/100F degrees for a day or more, the surface of the honey is high enough to prevent draining and 10-15 pounds of honey are bottled from the gate. More combs are crushed and stirred into the old cells, then it's back into the refrigerator for another two days before bottling the rest. The few mm of honey below the lower lip of the honey gate has any settled sediment that is smaller than the mesh, so about a liter has to be strained through a paint filter (this only has to be done once for up to three crushes).

                              It takes up to 2 hours to strip a bucket of ex-brood cells from a cutout and about half that to crush honey combs. Add the bottling and it's 2-3 hours effort spread over 4 days to drain 30-40 pounds of honey. The refrigerator can hold four sets of buckets but have never run that many at once. It is easier to do three crushes back-to-back than three crushes in parallel because it spreads the load and involves less cleaning.

                              Can't seee doing this for a huge extraction, but works well when there are not enough frames to justify hauling the extractor out, setting it up, cleaning before, cleaning after, breaking down, and storing it. If I want to save drawn comb I have to use the extractor but bees replace the cells scraped off plastic frames so quickly that it is seldom necessary.
                            • peter haywood
                              I use disposable gloves, and only do 60-90 lbs at a time so it doesn`t take many minutes.  I try to think of it selling at £4.50 per 12 oz and the time
                              Message 14 of 15 , Dec 5, 2010
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                                I use disposable gloves, and only do 60-90 lbs at a time so it doesn`t take many minutes.  I try to think of it selling at £4.50 per 12 oz and the time passes like magic!
                                Pete H


                                From: sydwool <sydwool@...>
                                To: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Sun, 5 December, 2010 10:08:54
                                Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: [BeekeepingGetting into beekeeping cheaply and Thixotropic honey

                                 

                                > generally scrape it back to the midrib using a dessert spoon and
                                > store it in 30lb buckets until I`m ready to bottle it...
                                > ...then pour it into a fine cotton filter cloth and squeeze
                                > by hand that which doesn`t run straight through.

                                You must be a sight after squeezing those cloths by hand, I would not enjoy getting so sticky.

                                My system relies on pairs of 60lb buckets and gravity.

                                a) About 40% of the top bucket is cut off
                                b) A coarse strainer is screwed in place with the base sitting just above the cut line
                                c) A 60cm sq fine nylon mesh is set on top of the bottom bucket which has a gate
                                d) The mesh is pushed down when the top bucket is dropped in position
                                e) A strap is used around the rim to hold the mesh tight

                                > If you have a lot of ex-brood combs I find you can get
                                > a taint of propolis in the honey when you warm it, plus
                                > it won`t easily scrape off the midrib with a
                                spoon.

                                I have never noticed even a hint of propolis. The combs are held in a cool storage area for a day or so after the removal, and are stiff. The comb is held above the top bucket, the cells are cut away and fall in.

                                After draining in the refrigerator at 38C/100F degrees for a day or more, the surface of the honey is high enough to prevent draining and 10-15 pounds of honey are bottled from the gate. More combs are crushed and stirred into the old cells, then it's back into the refrigerator for another two days before bottling the rest. The few mm of honey below the lower lip of the honey gate has any settled sediment that is smaller than the mesh, so about a liter has to be strained through a paint filter (this only has to be done once for up to three crushes).

                                It takes up to 2 hours to strip a bucket of ex-brood cells from a cutout and about half that to crush honey combs. Add the bottling and it's 2-3 hours effort spread over 4 days to drain 30-40 pounds of honey. The refrigerator can hold four sets of buckets but have never run that many at once. It is easier to do three crushes back-to-back than three crushes in parallel because it spreads the load and involves less cleaning.

                                Can't seee doing this for a huge extraction, but works well when there are not enough frames to justify hauling the extractor out, setting it up, cleaning before, cleaning after, breaking down, and storing it. If I want to save drawn comb I have to use the extractor but bees replace the cells scraped off plastic frames so quickly that it is seldom necessary.


                              • david flathman
                                http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/garden/09Bees.html?_r=1&hpw nytimes article on beekeeping
                                Message 15 of 15 , Dec 9, 2010
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