Best value hive supplier

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MrMouse

New Bee
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Feb 27, 2023
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Location
Dorset
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Hi folks,
I currently have the wherewithal to make up a couple of hives (currently have one hive and soon to have a nuc in operation, too).
I’m looking to make increase next spring and will therefore need a load more equipment and so I’m starting to make plans early.

Who’s the best value supplier of national cedar hives?

Yes, more supers will probably be required, but the Thornes Bees on a budget sets seem pretty difficult to beat.

Are the various sales over the winter likely to beat this value?

Thanks!
 
As per Ian's post although I agree with you, Thorne bees on a budget is hard to beat. Sales allow you to pick and mix and once you factor in bulk buying seconds frames they probably edge it in terms of cost against BOAB.
 
Thank you very much - I had thought of a couple of BOAB hives, topped up with some extra seconds supers, frames etc. I’ll keep my eyes peeled when the sales come round.
 
Worth adding up the overall cost of hives made with the seconds, it can be a substantial saving for you and though they are seconds the quality from Thorns or Maisemore is still good. The second hand market is also worth looking at. Cedar lasts years and can be painted up if it looks tatty.

Certain suppliers might be a bit cheaper especially in the sale but quality will be worse.
 
best value
Depends how you define best and value, and whether you apply the terms to a beekeeper's reluctant pocket or to 40 years of efficient use by future residents.

The BOAB has several sub-optimal features:
1 The OMF is unnecessary and you can make a floor easily. Better still, make a UFE floor to JBM or BMH spec.
2 An OMF insert is a waste of plastic as it's an ineffective tool for estimating infestation
3 A plastic QX is an inefficient tool as it sits on top bars and squashes bees. In response to the lack of bee space, the QX will be propolised and bonded with wax and the resulting mess will leak heat (see 5) and need regular cleaning
4 Frames (seconds) and foundation are cheaper when bought in bulk, which you will need
5 The thin crownboard is thermally inefficient and has two Porter/feed holes which (unless sealed) leak more heat. When used with an OMF the resulting chimney will waste even more nest heat through the ventilated roof. Bees must compensate for this poor design by working harder, so ageing faster and consuming more stores in order to maintain optimal nest warmth and humidity
6 Porter bee escapes are an inefficient method to clear bees
7 A ventilated roof will leak heat continually (see 5)
8 Booklet is unnecessary as Thorne assembly instructions are online

A better option would be to use Abelo 11-frame poly National which is a far more thermally efficient system. Thermal efficiency leads to about 15% more honey which you can sell to recoup your investment above the cost of a BOAB hive. Check Dorset local honey prices and see how quickly you will be ahead.

Abelo route
Abelo 11-frame BB, 2 x 11-frame supers, Ashforth feeder, roof: £181.90
Framed SS QX from Caddon sale £12
50 x seconds SN4 Maisemore frames £1.58 each inc del
50 x seconds DN4 Maisemore frames £15.8 inc del
50 x DN Abelo wax £1.38/sheet
50 x SN Abelo unwired wax £0.77/sheet
£254.10 for comparative costing with BOAB

Note: dummy board, crownboard and Porters are not needed with the Abelo system: the boxes take 11 Hoffmans with enough wriggle room but no slop, the Ashforth is on all year as an insulated CB, and shaking bees from a super takes about 3 minutes. All Abelo 11-frame kit is compatible with wood National.

What will the beekeeper gain from spending an extra £64.10?
1 No labour spent making boxes
2 Pleasure of making a UFE, which will deter wasps and rodent attack
3 No Porters to store & clean
4 No dummy boards to store & clean
5 No thin CB to store & clean
6 No need to store and transport a feeder
7 15% more honey due to thermal efficiency
What will the bees gain when the beekeeper spends an extra £64.10?
1 Greater efficiency of thermal & humidity modulation leading to less expenditure of energy & stores, longer bee life and increased honey yield
2 No top ventilation (see 1)
3 Easier nest defence courtesy of a UFE

You may well ask: why do suppliers sell outdated and unnecessary kit? The answer is that UK beekeeping is a sleeping sloth snoring soundly in the 19th century, and that long-established suppliers are reluctant to invest and embrace new hive management methods and materials. The equivalent, perhaps, of you cycling to work tomorrow on a penny farthing.

Final thought: £64.10 is equivalent to 9 jars of 340g Dorset honey sold @ £7 each.
 
Depends how you define best and value, and whether you apply the terms to a beekeeper's reluctant pocket or to 40 years of efficient use by future residents.

The BOAB has several sub-optimal features:
1 The OMF is unnecessary and you can make a floor easily. Better still, make a UFE floor to JBM or BMH spec.
2 An OMF insert is a waste of plastic as it's an ineffective tool for estimating infestation
3 A plastic QX is an inefficient tool as it sits on top bars and squashes bees. In response to the lack of bee space, the QX will be propolised and bonded with wax and the resulting mess will leak heat (see 5) and need regular cleaning
4 Frames (seconds) and foundation are cheaper when bought in bulk, which you will need
5 The thin crownboard is thermally inefficient and has two Porter/feed holes which (unless sealed) leak more heat. When used with an OMF the resulting chimney will waste even more nest heat through the ventilated roof. Bees must compensate for this poor design by working harder, so ageing faster and consuming more stores in order to maintain optimal nest warmth and humidity
6 Porter bee escapes are an inefficient method to clear bees
7 A ventilated roof will leak heat continually (see 5)
8 Booklet is unnecessary as Thorne assembly instructions are online

A better option would be to use Abelo 11-frame poly National which is a far more thermally efficient system. Thermal efficiency leads to about 15% more honey which you can sell to recoup your investment above the cost of a BOAB hive. Check Dorset local honey prices and see how quickly you will be ahead.

Abelo route
Abelo 11-frame BB, 2 x 11-frame supers, Ashforth feeder, roof: £181.90
Framed SS QX from Caddon sale £12
50 x seconds SN4 Maisemore frames £1.58 each inc del
50 x seconds DN4 Maisemore frames £15.8 inc del
50 x DN Abelo wax £1.38/sheet
50 x SN Abelo unwired wax £0.77/sheet
£254.10 for comparative costing with BOAB

Note: dummy board, crownboard and Porters are not needed with the Abelo system: the boxes take 11 Hoffmans with enough wriggle room but no slop, the Ashforth is on all year as an insulated CB, and shaking bees from a super takes about 3 minutes. All Abelo 11-frame kit is compatible with wood National.

What will the beekeeper gain from spending an extra £64.10?
1 No labour spent making boxes
2 Pleasure of making a UFE, which will deter wasps and rodent attack
3 No Porters to store & clean
4 No dummy boards to store & clean
5 No thin CB to store & clean
6 No need to store and transport a feeder
7 15% more honey due to thermal efficiency
What will the bees gain when the beekeeper spends an extra £64.10?
1 Greater efficiency of thermal & humidity modulation leading to less expenditure of energy & stores, longer bee life and increased honey yield
2 No top ventilation (see 1)
3 Easier nest defence courtesy of a UFE

You may well ask: why do suppliers sell outdated and unnecessary kit? The answer is that UK beekeeping is a sleeping sloth snoring soundly in the 19th century, and that long-established suppliers are reluctant to invest and embrace new hive management methods and materials. The equivalent, perhaps, of you cycling to work tomorrow on a penny farthing.

Final thought: £64.10 is equivalent to 9 jars of 340g Dorset honey sold @ £7 each.
This is really interesting food for thought, thank you!
 
Depends how you define best and value, and whether you apply the terms to a beekeeper's reluctant pocket or to 40 years of efficient use by future residents.

The BOAB has several sub-optimal features:
1 The OMF is unnecessary and you can make a floor easily. Better still, make a UFE floor to JBM or BMH spec.
2 An OMF insert is a waste of plastic as it's an ineffective tool for estimating infestation
3 A plastic QX is an inefficient tool as it sits on top bars and squashes bees. In response to the lack of bee space, the QX will be propolised and bonded with wax and the resulting mess will leak heat (see 5) and need regular cleaning
4 Frames (seconds) and foundation are cheaper when bought in bulk, which you will need
5 The thin crownboard is thermally inefficient and has two Porter/feed holes which (unless sealed) leak more heat. When used with an OMF the resulting chimney will waste even more nest heat through the ventilated roof. Bees must compensate for this poor design by working harder, so ageing faster and consuming more stores in order to maintain optimal nest warmth and humidity
6 Porter bee escapes are an inefficient method to clear bees
7 A ventilated roof will leak heat continually (see 5)
8 Booklet is unnecessary as Thorne assembly instructions are online

A better option would be to use Abelo 11-frame poly National which is a far more thermally efficient system. Thermal efficiency leads to about 15% more honey which you can sell to recoup your investment above the cost of a BOAB hive. Check Dorset local honey prices and see how quickly you will be ahead.

Abelo route
Abelo 11-frame BB, 2 x 11-frame supers, Ashforth feeder, roof: £181.90
Framed SS QX from Caddon sale £12
50 x seconds SN4 Maisemore frames £1.58 each inc del
50 x seconds DN4 Maisemore frames £15.8 inc del
50 x DN Abelo wax £1.38/sheet
50 x SN Abelo unwired wax £0.77/sheet
£254.10 for comparative costing with BOAB

Note: dummy board, crownboard and Porters are not needed with the Abelo system: the boxes take 11 Hoffmans with enough wriggle room but no slop, the Ashforth is on all year as an insulated CB, and shaking bees from a super takes about 3 minutes. All Abelo 11-frame kit is compatible with wood National.

What will the beekeeper gain from spending an extra £64.10?
1 No labour spent making boxes
2 Pleasure of making a UFE, which will deter wasps and rodent attack
3 No Porters to store & clean
4 No dummy boards to store & clean
5 No thin CB to store & clean
6 No need to store and transport a feeder
7 15% more honey due to thermal efficiency
What will the bees gain when the beekeeper spends an extra £64.10?
1 Greater efficiency of thermal & humidity modulation leading to less expenditure of energy & stores, longer bee life and increased honey yield
2 No top ventilation (see 1)
3 Easier nest defence courtesy of a UFE

You may well ask: why do suppliers sell outdated and unnecessary kit? The answer is that UK beekeeping is a sleeping sloth snoring soundly in the 19th century, and that long-established suppliers are reluctant to invest and embrace new hive management methods and materials. The equivalent, perhaps, of you cycling to work tomorrow on a penny farthing.

Final thought: £64.10 is equivalent to 9 jars of 340g Dorset honey sold @ £7 each.
Problem is with an additional £64 per poly hive, for every 2 poly hives I could have 3 nationals fully made out for the same price! Guessing that would give me a 33% increase in yield.
Poly hives are good I brought a bundle of Murray back in early 2000s back then and direct from Murray it was literally a few pounds difference in a brood box between poly and wood. Bees do well in poly but they’ll also perform admirably in wood. A big hive in timber in peak season was certainly comparable with its poly counterparts. I didn’t go much further with all poly hives but I do like the benefits in poly nucs in terms of bang for your buck nucs probably are worth it. But even here increased poly costs have me looking at wood again.
Some do appear to push poly as a cure for all bee ailments and it does make me chuckle, poor beekeepers will still be struggling even if all their hives are poly😉
 
I know it is not beecentric, but bees will survive in most any box. I sometimes take bees through winter in home made nucs, made from half inch ply.
In my early days I bought a couple of polys . Aesthetically I prefer cedar
 

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