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EastEndBees

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Hi all

I am thinking about starting beekeeping in London having done so for many years in my home country of Germany. I have made good experiences with Dadant hives there (the 12 frame brood box version as used by Brother Adam because it's square which allows you to manage the number of frames in the brood box more easily - you can pop on the supers parallel to the entrance so that they all get used) and am thinking about using the same here.

I'm aware it's not the most popular choice in the UK but wanted to see if anyone has any experience with Dandant hives here.

Looking forward to reading about your views!
 

RichardK

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I use Dadant 10 frame hives and either 5 or 6 frame nucs, however I'm in France where it's a major force. For simplicity with other beekeepers in the UK it's not an obvious choice. That said, if you're happy buying packages rather than nucs and expect to be self-sufficient then why not. Were I to move to the UK though, I'd change hive type as I don't see any massive advantage of Dadant over National over Langstroth etc...
 

Ian123

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I’d be inclined to stick with a common type depending on the numbers you intend to run it can be costly setting up..Never walk in to a supplier and buy off the shelf sales are the way forward and seconds equipment is ideal, in fact I’m surprised a supplier doesn’t produce them as standard all year round.
 

roche

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I tried Dadant and did not do very well with them, probably due to my own inexperience at the time. I came to the conclusion that the frames were a bit big, especially in winter. It is interesting that they worked for you in Germany. I think they depend on really large colonies...
 

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I have a bee farming friend who uses them after trying several types.

Just be careful on their provenance if buying second hand.
 

EastEndBees

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Thanks all for the replies! After quite some digging, it seems that the ones I want (12 brood frames) aren’t even available in the UK so I’ll have to negotiate with some German manufacturers to send them over. This should also save a big chunk of money despite shipping costs as hives are less than half price compared to the UK.

From my own experience, it’s very difficult to keep bees in Dadant hives if you approach it the same way as you would keep your bees on nationals or langstroth type hives. There’s quite a lot of literature on it in Germany but nothing really in English. The big advantage I see is that during swarming season you are essentially checking only a handful of frames so spend 10 mins max a week per hive on swarm control. This saves you from doing the more invasive techniques like Demarres or variants thereof which I’ve never been a fan of and the colonies build up to impressive sizes.

I am tinkering with the idea of asking one of the more popular authors on Dadant beekeeping whether I can translate their book to English as I think it might be of some interest to people! I’ll let the forum know in case I’ll get around to doing that!
 

roche

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Thanks all for the replies! After quite some digging, it seems that the ones I want (12 brood frames) aren’t even available in the UK so I’ll have to negotiate with some German manufacturers to send them over. This should also save a big chunk of money despite shipping costs as hives are less than half price compared to the UK.

From my own experience, it’s very difficult to keep bees in Dadant hives if you approach it the same way as you would keep your bees on nationals or langstroth type hives. There’s quite a lot of literature on it in Germany but nothing really in English. The big advantage I see is that during swarming season you are essentially checking only a handful of frames so spend 10 mins max a week per hive on swarm control. This saves you from doing the more invasive techniques like Demarres or variants thereof which I’ve never been a fan of and the colonies build up to impressive sizes.

I am tinkering with the idea of asking one of the more popular authors on Dadant beekeeping whether I can translate their book to English as I think it might be of some interest to people! I’ll let the forum know in case I’ll get around to doing that!
That would be really interesting. I tried them because there seemed to be a lot of advantages, but as you say, the technique is different. At that stage I don't think I knew enough to make it work (I probably still don't, but I might have more of a clue now...)
 

Wilco

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Thanks all for the replies! After quite some digging, it seems that the ones I want (12 brood frames) aren’t even available in the UK so I’ll have to negotiate with some German manufacturers to send them over. This should also save a big chunk of money despite shipping costs as hives are less than half price compared to the UK.

From my own experience, it’s very difficult to keep bees in Dadant hives if you approach it the same way as you would keep your bees on nationals or langstroth type hives. There’s quite a lot of literature on it in Germany but nothing really in English. The big advantage I see is that during swarming season you are essentially checking only a handful of frames so spend 10 mins max a week per hive on swarm control. This saves you from doing the more invasive techniques like Demarres or variants thereof which I’ve never been a fan of and the colonies build up to impressive sizes.

I am tinkering with the idea of asking one of the more popular authors on Dadant beekeeping whether I can translate their book to English as I think it might be of some interest to people! I’ll let the forum know in case I’ll get around to doing that!

I'd be interested to hear but 10min a hive sounds not far off what I do with nationals and that's checking every frame. How does the technique differ?
 

EastEndBees

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I'd be interested to hear but 10min a hive sounds not far off what I do with nationals and that's checking every frame. How does the technique differ?
You must be fast then and I assume no double brood box? For me it’s the difference between checking 6-8 Dadant frames of brood (or 1-2 if there’s no sign of swarming, but 6-8 if I find cells) versus having to check 22 frames in a German national standard hive. Plus because the brood box isn’t filled fully with frames you can work much quicker by just sliding frames around, whereas in a double brood box you first have to remove some frames (and fiddle them back in at the end) to be able to go through the rest quickly. There’s definitely a time saving here but I guess it depends on everyone’s speed!
 

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You must be fast then and I assume no double brood box? For me it’s the difference between checking 6-8 Dadant frames of brood (or 1-2 if there’s no sign of swarming, but 6-8 if I find cells) versus having to check 22 frames in a German national standard hive. Plus because the brood box isn’t filled fully with frames you can work much quicker by just sliding frames around, whereas in a double brood box you first have to remove some frames (and fiddle them back in at the end) to be able to go through the rest quickly. There’s definitely a time saving here but I guess it depends on everyone’s speed!
Most are on single brood. The German ones- are you referring to Zander? I'll have to look closer at Dadant. I'm curious about this no sign of swarming as not all my hives have evidence throughout when swarming so how do you determine which two to check?
 

EastEndBees

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No I mean German Standard frames (Deutsch Normalmaß) - they are a bit shorter than Zander but a tiny bit bigger than Nationals. It's a bit hard to describe in words how I determine whether they want to swarm but I just start looking at the brood frames from the outside in and if there's plenty of eggs and larvae, no queen cells (whether charged or not) and the hive "looks" happy and busy. It's not magic but it's also not science.

Swarming is not so much a problem most years with my German colonies. I'd say about half don't even attempt it and the other half thinks about it for only a couple of weeks.
 

pargyle

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You must be fast then and I assume no double brood box? For me it’s the difference between checking 6-8 Dadant frames of brood (or 1-2 if there’s no sign of swarming, but 6-8 if I find cells) versus having to check 22 frames in a German national standard hive. Plus because the brood box isn’t filled fully with frames you can work much quicker by just sliding frames around, whereas in a double brood box you first have to remove some frames (and fiddle them back in at the end) to be able to go through the rest quickly. There’s definitely a time saving here but I guess it depends on everyone’s speed!
Not all nationals end up on double brood ...I use 14 x 12 and I never need double brood. Plus, if you use a dummy frame at the end that's easy to get out and then inspections for me are done by just sliding the frames along to where the brood starts and I just inspect for swarm cells, disease and stores.

You may find, in the UK and where you intend beekeeping that, like me in a semi-urban environment, your flows are not as heavy as you experienced in Germany and are more steady across the season. You may find that, with the Dadant format, you end up with a lot of honey in the brood frames and less in the supers. Dadant brood frames are going to be a bit of a challenge for most reasonably priced extractors.

Whilst I recognise your enthusiasm for Dadants and their lesser cost in Germany I would agree with others who have said there are more common hive formats in the UK (bought in the sales and as seconds they are much cheaper) and if/when your beekeeping expands there are more options for extra kit and bees.

As always, beekeeping is about making decisions and the decision that you make is the right one ...but with the caveat that you consider and appraise the advantages and disadvantages. A simple chart comparing For and Against or even better - a SWOT chart - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats which, if you do it honestly, may help your decision.
 

Ian123

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I tried Dadant and did not do very well with them, probably due to my own inexperience at the time. I came to the conclusion that the frames were a bit big, especially in winter. It is interesting that they worked for you in Germany. I think they depend on really large colonies...
Whilst they do have Bucks in Germany they are mostly carnica known for small winter clusters and a rapid spring build up,
 

EastEndBees

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Not all nationals end up on double brood ...I use 14 x 12 and I never need double brood. Plus, if you use a dummy frame at the end that's easy to get out and then inspections for me are done by just sliding the frames along to where the brood starts and I just inspect for swarm cells, disease and stores.

You may find, in the UK and where you intend beekeeping that, like me in a semi-urban environment, your flows are not as heavy as you experienced in Germany and are more steady across the season. You may find that, with the Dadant format, you end up with a lot of honey in the brood frames and less in the supers. Dadant brood frames are going to be a bit of a challenge for most reasonably priced extractors.

Whilst I recognise your enthusiasm for Dadants and their lesser cost in Germany I would agree with others who have said there are more common hive formats in the UK (bought in the sales and as seconds they are much cheaper) and if/when your beekeeping expands there are more options for extra kit and bees.

As always, beekeeping is about making decisions and the decision that you make is the right one ...but with the caveat that you consider and appraise the advantages and disadvantages. A simple chart comparing For and Against or even better - a SWOT chart - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats which, if you do it honestly, may help your decision.

I think with 14x12 the basics are actually quite similar to Dadant - Dadant just gives you that little bit of extra freedom by having brood on a smaller number of frames.
I am hoping that the flows where I am are fairly treasonable, perhaps not what I’m used to in Germany but it should still work out alright. If Dadant is done right, you won’t have any honey in the brood frames so that’s not necessarily an issue for me. The one thing that I totally agree with is the interchangeability with other beekeepers in my area. I just can’t help but think that 14x12 is a very awkward frame size and I find national frames incredibly fiddly (although I suppose I could get myself used to wired foundation 😅).
so my hope is that as long as there are some Langstroth beekeepers where I might be able to get the odd nuc if needed, I shouldn’t be shooting myself in the foot too much with Dadant. I’m not one for exchanging equipment anyways - I think being self sustainable in terms of equipment and bees helps the prevention of spreading brood diseases and if I want to give bees to a newbie an artificial swarm is always an option.
Let’s see though - so far still on the hunt for a good location and then hopefully I can revert back with some insights in a year or two, either endorsing it or telling others to stay well clear of it!
 

EastEndBees

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Whilst they do have Bucks in Germany they are mostly carnica known for small winter clusters and a rapid spring build up,
The Dadant beekeepers generally (I’d say 90%) keep buckfast. Medium sized overwintering strength (just a little bit bigger than Carnica) but fairly equal in terms of spring build up. Buckfast tend to produce ever so slightly larger colonies, maybe a super more, but I’ve had Carnica hives towering over my buckfast ones as well! in all honesty, there isn’t that much between the two breeds in Germany that your bee breed would significantly affect your hives or Beekeeping method choices.
 

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I think with 14x12 the basics are actually quite similar to Dadant - Dadant just gives you that little bit of extra freedom by having brood on a smaller number of frames.
I am hoping that the flows where I am are fairly treasonable, perhaps not what I’m used to in Germany but it should still work out alright. If Dadant is done right, you won’t have any honey in the brood frames so that’s not necessarily an issue for me. The one thing that I totally agree with is the interchangeability with other beekeepers in my area. I just can’t help but think that 14x12 is a very awkward frame size and I find national frames incredibly fiddly (although I suppose I could get myself used to wired foundation 😅).
so my hope is that as long as there are some Langstroth beekeepers where I might be able to get the odd nuc if needed, I shouldn’t be shooting myself in the foot too much with Dadant. I’m not one for exchanging equipment anyways - I think being self sustainable in terms of equipment and bees helps the prevention of spreading brood diseases and if I want to give bees to a newbie an artificial swarm is always an option.
Let’s see though - so far still on the hunt for a good location and then hopefully I can revert back with some insights in a year or two, either endorsing it or telling others to stay well clear of it!
The top bars of the 14x12 and national brood are the same, only the depth is different. Form time to time I end up with a couple of national brood in my 14x12, its not an issue, the bees usually just build drone comb directly under the bottom bar of the national brood frame, normally its straight if you place the national brood frame in between two 14x12.
 

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I have a Dadant that I purchased with (really nasty)bees as my 1st hive before I knew anything about beekeeping. It swarmed on day 2, then again on day 3.Turned out the 2 supers on it were rammed full of OSR so in a week I had 3 colonies and 50lb of honey. The following 2 years didnt do great due to poorly mated queens, my lack of experience and being incompatible with national equipment I bought.
This year though the queen has been really good, there has been no swarming prep, a nice calm colony and the foragers have been doing a great job. The downsides though are the brood frames can be really heavy and so are the supers when they are full.
I was going to get rid of it and stick with nationals but quiet attached to it now being my 1st hive.
 

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