|Common hives - Langstroth | Kenyan | Warre|
- The beekeeping equipment we use - mainly the hive type.
- The beekeeping methods we use - how we interact with the bees and the hive.
Perhaps we should aim to make informed decisions with good information, rather than with wisdom received from someone already locked into a system?
We'll review (within the context of Victoria, Australia) the following aspects of the the three most commonly used hives (Langstroth, Warre, Kenyan):
- Frames & comb
- History & Legislation
The most relevant dimension of a hive is its internal size, primarily its volume (we use litres) because that is the overall space a colony has to work with. For conventional beekeeping this is possibly the only consideration. The larger the volume, the more space for bees/comb/honey storage.
From an NB perspective we are very concerned with hive temperature and heat retention within the hive. The inside of a hive needs to be warmed to (and then maintained at) a suitable temperature, around 35 degrees C for the brood area. This requires the bees to generate that heat using nectar/honey to vibrate their wing muscles. The larger the volume, the more stress the bees are under in order to maintain the required temperature. There is another factor here and that is how the hive is configured - if there is lots of empty space above the brood area, stress is increased dramatically.
For Natural Beekeeping, there are two additional concerns with dimensions beyond volume:
- The shape of the box (i.e. when viewed from above)
- The dimensions and area of a section that shape
|A typical 'wild' honeybee nest in its natural envirnonment|
Let's compare the internal (a single box) dimensions of the three hives:
- 'deep' box - 46.4 cm (l) x 30.7 cm (w) x 24.3 cm (h) = 34.6 litres
- 'ideal' box - 46.4 cm (l) x 30.7 cm (w) x 14.6 cm (h) = 20.8 litres
- this is a frame (only) hive
- 110 cm (l) x 38 cm>13 cm (w) x 30 cm (h) = 82.5 litres
- note that the useable volume can be infinately varied using the follower boards
- the is the Phil Chandler (www.biobees.com) varient of the Kenyan
- this is a purely top bar (only) hive (TBH)
- The TBH version - 30 cm (l) x 30 cm (w) x 21 cm (h) = 18.9 litres (60% of the Lang)
- The framed version - 33.5 cm (w) x 33.5 cm (h) x 20.75 cm (h) = 23.3 litres (68% of the Lang)
Other heat retention related points to volume and hive design and are:
- The amount of space within that volume available to build comb - it's an insulator.
- Whether the comb can be formed into 'gallaries' which are sealed - they trap heat.
Based on the above discussion, the hives perform as follows, in order of preference:
- Warre - a square section box, with a small volume. Vertical stacking. Higher frame volume efficiency.
- Kenyan - a trapezoidal shaped box, large volume, which can be finely managed with 'follower boards'). Horizontal direction.
- Langstroth - a rectangular shaped box with large volume. Lower frame volume efficiency.
|The Warre - a hollow tree trunk?|
|Inside the Kenayn - a fallen log?|
|Langstroth's box - a natural shape for bees?|