Mini-Plus Hive (Beute)

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Bosleeu 

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Mini-plus hive
I have had some of these hives for quite a few seasons and use them mainly for getting queens mated and keeping spare queens in (including overwintering them). I have just bought two more as I think they do the job well, I enjoy working them and like the small footprint they have in my suburban garden. You can put one on a small square paving slab and hide it in a hedge or put it on the roof of a shed.

The hives are made of good quality (in my opinion) polystyrene and are also available in wood. Hive bodies are 300mm square and 165mm high. They can be stacked like most other hives and have top beespace. Each box has a lip at the bottom which fits into a groove of the box below it. It means the small boxes sit on each other securely but has the usual downsides when you put the bodies back together. Bees can get squashed and you have to get the boxes just right when you lower them. Being small they are thankfully not heavy so can be accurately placed and with a bit of luck and some smoke or spray any squashed bees can be limited or avoided. Sadly they have no frame runners so the lugs rest on the flat poly surface. I find a J-type hivetool levered between the sidebar and the hive wall separates the lug from the polystyrene pretty well without harming the frame or the hive.

Frames are available in wood, plastic (that takes foundation) or full plastic including the foundation. I have used plastic and been happy with them, and have also just received my first wooden ones. At just under a Euro for a fully assembled frame including wiring I think they are quite reasonable. The wooden ones are Hoffman-type and the plastic ones I use have two spacers protruding from the side bars that work quite well. I have no experience of the full plastic frames. Frame size is “Half Dadant” which is 251x159mm and that gives a comb area of 200x140mm (Thanks to Itma for that calculation, confirmed by my often inaccurate measuring). Each box takes six frames, with a bit of extra space left over. Choice - if you want to make a dummy board (not for sale as far as I can see), centralise the frames or leave the space at the end. I find the little bit of extra space handy when introducing queencells.

The floor (“OMF” type with a plastic grid), come in two varieties. One has the OM covering most of the bottom, whereas the other has a compartment for feeding fondant or pollen patties towards the back. These compartments can also be purchased separately and added or used as needed. The entrance is integral to the floor, faces ventrally and measures 52x10mm – it appears defendable but can handle a fair amount of traffic as well.

The roof fits snugly on top of the boxes thanks to the lip, and is approximately 29mm thick for the insulation-enthusiasts. Clear coverboards are available, although I have not bought one- something I think I should have done.

Apart from the fondant compartment you can also use a frame-feeder instead of the sixth-frame or a polystyrene Miller-type feeder that fits perfectly between the roof and the top box. I really like the top feeder as you have virtually no drownings and the space between the bee-side and the syrup side is very small so you can check on the feeder without worrying about the bees at all. I never painted the inside of the feeders of my first two , and have to say there is very little difference between them and the feeders I have painted diligently.

Overwintering is done with two boxes, although I am sure you can do it with one. If I need to feed fondant I simply separate the lowest box from the floor, lift the hive and place to the side, place a block of food in the compartment and replace the boxes – both can be handled together, including the roof. The bees take it well and you don’t need to open the top of the hive. They tend to build up very well in Spring.

My main hives are sited between my shed and my hedge, with plenty of trees around, and its is pretty cosy between the hives. Being so sheltered and crowded may or may not be the reason but my queens were getting lost quite frequently (I assumed).

These little hives can be put on top of my shed and I have seen a great improvement in mating rates , with only one queen missing so far. This means I normally have a queen ready in case anything goes wrong in my main hives, so I don’t need to worry about the colony losing momentum if a queen takes a long time to get mated etc etc. I can also introduce queens to a few frames of bees and establish nucs on top of my other hives, ready for uniting in late summer if needed so most hives go into winter with a young queen.

I never expected any honey from these hives, but have been surprised at the amount of frames that get filled. I have had to regularly remove frames of honey and extract just to make room throughout the season. It appears can get queen excluders for them (plastic and metal) although I have never had one. So there must be some folks out there using them for honey.
Downsides to these hives for me are as mentioned the potential squashing of bees due to the way the boxes fit together, the absence of frame runners and the fact that you need to keep an eye on the bees as they could get swarmy very quickly and catch you out (happened once).
More info and some nice pictures can be seen on: http://www.holtermann-shop.de/index.php/cPath/1_157

I have bought mine from German and Scandinavian suppliers and found them quite affordable. Sadly they are not big on Paypal and some not even on credit cards so you have to transfer the money which is hassle and can cost you. I now have an app on my phone that helps me with that so it is much easier to buy equipment etc from there (Dare I mention queens?)

Here are also a few pictures of mine, sorry it is just the new ones as the other are all occupied and I don't really want to disturb the bees.
 

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Bosleeu 

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Looks exactly the same although there is no way mine is 275mm high. I think it is the same and that is a mistake. Some of the European sites also say it is 260mm high, which it isn't.

Much cheaper in Europe.
 

Chris B 

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I use these hives and would never go back to Apidea now. I've tried the plastic frames but prefer the wood as they fit better.

Yes you can overwinter on one box but easier with two. With one you need to be more careful they don't starve, but with the feeder and commercial syrup they can feed almost year round.

Don't forget to paint the outside surfaces.
 

Bosleeu 

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One coat of shed paint still looking good after 3 years.
 

mbc 

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I'm a fan too, I got mine from abelo and these come with an entrance facing either way and a division board so that you can mate two queens from them at once. I use a little sheet of polyethylene as a crown board and it works well.
 

gavin 

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Bear in mind that there is more than one design of the Mini Plus. The Abelo (and Icko) one comes from Lyson and has the split box design. The one Holtermann and some others sell has just the one entrance and no partition. Without some serious hacking about it will not allow you to mate two queens at a time.
 

rolande 

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Gavin, not to 'correct' you as such but icko do sell both versions which could result in a mis-order nightmare if not aware.
 

derekm 

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Thermally : The insulation and wall roof thickness has to increase the smaller the hive, otherwise the bees are subject to increased heat producing stress (for the same bee density)

Mechanically: the walls and roof only need to be strong enough to spport the weight and handling . The smaller the colony the further the wall thickness can be reduced.

Looks like this design has only catered for the mechanical.
 
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derekm 

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********
 
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derekm 

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The lyson ones come with a polystyrene Miller type feeder as standard, making the combined roof + feeder quite snug.
Unsealed air spaces above the bees are not a good idea as the warmest air is further away from the bees and increases the the heat loss by increasing the heated surface area.

A PIR/recticel/kingspan bonnet is probably the best accessory for these
 

mbc 

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Essentially it's a sealed unit with another bubble of trapped air between layers of poly, the entrance to the feeder is through two small slots and then there's a baffle between that and the main feeder space. The bees don't seem to congregate away from the entrance to the feeder when they're cold, so it's a very small effect, if any.
 

mbc 

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A PIR/recticel/kingspan bonnet is probably the best accessory for these
Maybe would be slightly beneficial, but not enough to be worth the extra work putting it on and off.
Run a trial with hundreds, then you could argue what would be the best accessory.

Edit: better still, sort out the funding, and I'll happily run the trial for you :)
 
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derekm 

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depends what you are comparing it with..
If the walls are about 15mm thick the performance is a little bit better than a full size uninsulated wooden hive (note they have thinned the walls on the poly)

However to match a full size poly hive with 35mm thickness it would need walls and roof 55mm thick.
In these comparsions I have taken into account the differences in volume
 

Bosleeu 

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The walls are about 33mm thick. I have only measured it with an old ruler so it may be a mm out either side. I thought this would turn into another insulation debate.
 

itma 

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Yes Derek, every manufactured hive would be improved by better insulation!

However, lets try and keep this thread about THIS hive design rather than the insulation characteristics of small hives in general ...


This one has been successfully used for several years for overwintering in Germany, where the Winters are colder than ours.
So it isn't catastrophically under-insulated.
But yes, like all hives (and small ones in particular) it could indeed be improved with extra insulation.

Now, lets move on ...


Does anyone use them for cell-raising or cell-finishing or just mating?
I'm thinking that a double or triple brood plus extra pollen supplies might make an interesting possibility ...
 

Swarm 

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Unsealed air spaces above the bees are not a good idea as the warmest air is further away from the bees and increases the the heat loss by increasing the heated surface area.

A PIR/recticel/kingspan bonnet is probably the best accessory for these
Better not use them then.
 

Bosleeu 

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Does anyone use them for cell-raising or cell-finishing or just mating?
I'm thinking that a double or triple brood plus extra pollen supplies might make an interesting possibility ...
Last year I had a hive on four boxes, very strong. I moved the queen and two boxes a few yards away. Left emerging and sealed brood and two boxes in original place. Flyers also came back. Six days later I destroyed all queencells and put 4 grafted larvae in with them. 3 were accepted, my guess is it was grafting technique as the bees were all over the grafts within seconds.

So have used it but on a small amateur /hobby scale only.

Could also be a good place to keep a breeder queen in for grafting. One day.
 

derekm 

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Yes Derek, every manufactured hive would be improved by better insulation!

However, lets try and keep this thread about THIS hive design rather than the insulation characteristics of small hives in general ...


This one has been successfully used for several years for overwintering in Germany, where the Winters are colder than ours.
So it isn't catastrophically under-insulated.
But yes, like all hives (and small ones in particular) it could indeed be improved with extra insulation.

Now, lets move on ...


Does anyone use them for cell-raising or cell-finishing or just mating?
I'm thinking that a double or triple brood plus extra pollen supplies might make an interesting possibility ...
Look carefully I was commenting specifically on this hive design...
look carefully at the average and minimum wall thickness. So called successful designs, used and originating in countries famed as being colder than Germany, are severly compromised by this fault.
When success is measured by getting less than 30% mortality, success takes on an uncommon quality.
 
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