Poly vs wood

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Thought I’d share some (small scale) observations about poly vs wood this Spring and invite comments from other beekeepers who have both

So far this Spring, all my polyhives have made swarm preps (6/6) whether single or double brood, white queen or blue. In contrast my wooden hives (all WBCs) only 1/7 have made swarm preps to date. Similar configurations - some on double some on single brood all doing well on 7-14 frames brood. Again some blue queens and some white.

Interesting all the polys have gathered significantly more honey this Spring. Ahead of the wooden by 1 full super (best has 2 full supers now, worst in wood, has just a few frames).

I keep a mix of 3 ‘queen lines’ and they are represented in each apiary so don’t think different genetics are at play. I have a mix of poly and wood in 2 apiaries, similar conclusions, so don’t think the apiary is a factor but it is small scale and not a scientific study

All colonies were all over wintered in the same way with the same varroa treatments and all have come out of spring strong. I didn’t see a huge difference in winter stores use poly vs wood, with wood slightly less.

Seems to support Murray Mc Gregor’s observations at one of our winter talks, that polys out perform wood. Copied below his comments from our talk:
“ Bees prefer poly hives vs wooden, productivity 20% higher , winter survival rate much superior , strength is superior and recovery time in spring is better, get better productivity in August . Use poly feeders on all hive types as gives about 70% of the benefit of poly. Can be slower to respond in spring so not so responsive to weather as don’t feel the sun as quickly vs wood, but poly soon overtakes”

Only downside I can see is more swarming & control needed to date. However maybe early swarm control by putting queen in Nuc with minimal bees and brood to keep her ticking over, means a good spring crop gathering will continue…then swarming and new queen produced early which is good for later in season. Plus brood break helps re varroa. Aside from a longer process cleaning for poly, it seems to beat wood on many fronts. Perhaps this will be of interest to beginners deciding on hive types or for those toying with making a change

Do you agree or do you have different observations about poly vs wood?
 
Wooden hives swarm later. The colony must build up swarming condition. Biggest colonies swarm first. So it is said in "swarming control imformation".

I have seen differencies between wooden and polyhives.
 
Interesting, thanks for sharing your observations. I only run poly in nucs, not full size hives. They definately out perform the wooden nucs (I use the Mike Palmer version with a BB split in 2 x 5 frames). All my polynucs went into full size hives 3 weeks ago while my 4 wooden nucs are still buiding-up.

Another downside is you very rarely get 2nd prices on poly hives which can become pretty costly!
 
I run both. Yes the poly hives swarm earlier and bring in more honey because they are in front of wood and are bigger colonies. The one exception this spring is the colony in a wooden hive with a solid floor that are well in front of all the others poly or wood.
 
I run both. Yes the poly hives swarm earlier and bring in more honey because they are in front of wood and are bigger colonies. The one exception this spring is the colony in a wooden hive with a solid floor that are well in front of all the others poly or wood.

I experimented with one colony on a solid floor of 25mm PIR board in a polyhive with additional PIR....real overkill. It is the only colony I have with proper breeder genetics, but the speed of build-up has been astounding. Here, in north-east Scotland, with double-brood and the third, shallow, honey super placed on yesterday. Having said that, none of this yet capped, but the two are very full.

Poly is king....or is that "queen".
 
I have exclusively timber nationals ,but run exclusively maisemore polynucs- so scientifically comparing colonies would be difficult even if it were not futile.
I think poly is advantageous for nursing a vulnerable colony,but the goal is surely for bees that can perform well regardless of the housing material.

My choice is purely practical in that despite being more robust for intense use, I can quickly manufacture repair or replace wooden parts at low or zero cost,and if I do have to buy anything it will (or should be ) universal - I'm not tied to one or the other manufacturer's idiosyncrasies.
How does a modern design leak water for example?
Ah,I see- it evolved from wine boxes.
No it didn't ,it was designed to leak.:unsure:

I've even crossed over to the dark side and made wooden supers that are fully compatible with the Polynucs,which I have in my mind to be so fragile.
 
I have exclusively timber nationals ,but run exclusively maisemore polynucs- so scientifically comparing colonies would be difficult even if it were not futile.
I think poly is advantageous for nursing a vulnerable colony,but the goal is surely for bees that can perform well regardless of the housing material.

My choice is purely practical in that despite being more robust for intense use, I can quickly manufacture repair or replace wooden parts at low or zero cost,and if I do have to buy anything it will (or should be ) universal - I'm not tied to one or the other manufacturer's idiosyncrasies.
How does a modern design leak water for example?
Ah,I see- it evolved from wine boxes.
No it didn't ,it was designed to leak.:unsure:

I've even crossed over to the dark side and made wooden supers that are fully compatible with the Polynucs,which I have in my mind to be so fragile.

That advertising makes no sense.
I have used poly boxes 35 years. And I have used timber boxes 50 years.
 
I like polys and brought a good few off Murray in early 2000s….Back then simple poly boxes where only a few £ more than seconds wood, unfortunately there’s a real gulf atm and there looking rather expensive. Coupled with the fact there’s all the additional bits evidently pushing up prices. There is also no common producer meaning multiple varieties! I did have hopes with the BS honey guys but they appear to have been shafted when the manufacturer went belly up. I’ll stick with poly nucs and wooden hives in the sunny south atm.
 
I have used poly hives for 45years on the advice of Bernard Mobus on consideration of damp (I was in Aberdeenshire). His views from the locals in the 70's were considered heretical with their WBC and Glen hives and nationals - each to their own. I still have 2 of my originals in use so don't think the environment has overly suffered. They definitely out perform wooden ones. I think I have lost about 5 overwintered colonies in all that time but I feed well and most I think were poor autumn matings.
I agree that there are so many producers of poly hives that dimensions need to be checked BUT the advice to standardise within your own apiary still stands good irrespective of what hive type you use. I use Langstroth boxes which are 450mm x 540mm and they work well - for me. They get a touch up paint of brown masonry paint every couple of years and hygiene is via washing soda scrub and a wallpaper steamer. Have found that Cillit Bang spray black mould remover and a light scrub also does a great job with a good rinse afterwards brings the internals up like new.

Finally I do believe that polys keep bees warm in winter and cool in summer. I have rarely seen bearding in my poly hives in a hot summer. (now in Somerset).
 
Thought I’d share some (small scale) observations about poly vs wood this Spring and invite comments from other beekeepers who have both

So far this Spring, all my polyhives have made swarm preps (6/6) whether single or double brood, white queen or blue. In contrast my wooden hives (all WBCs) only 1/7 have made swarm preps to date. Similar configurations - some on double some on single brood all doing well on 7-14 frames brood. Again some blue queens and some white.

Interesting all the polys have gathered significantly more honey this Spring. Ahead of the wooden by 1 full super (best has 2 full supers now, worst in wood, has just a few frames).

I keep a mix of 3 ‘queen lines’ and they are represented in each apiary so don’t think different genetics are at play. I have a mix of poly and wood in 2 apiaries, similar conclusions, so don’t think the apiary is a factor but it is small scale and not a scientific study

All colonies were all over wintered in the same way with the same varroa treatments and all have come out of spring strong. I didn’t see a huge difference in winter stores use poly vs wood, with wood slightly less.

Seems to support Murray Mc Gregor’s observations at one of our winter talks, that polys out perform wood. Copied below his comments from our talk:
“ Bees prefer poly hives vs wooden, productivity 20% higher , winter survival rate much superior , strength is superior and recovery time in spring is better, get better productivity in August . Use poly feeders on all hive types as gives about 70% of the benefit of poly. Can be slower to respond in spring so not so responsive to weather as don’t feel the sun as quickly vs wood, but poly soon overtakes”

Only downside I can see is more swarming & control needed to date. However maybe early swarm control by putting queen in Nuc with minimal bees and brood to keep her ticking over, means a good spring crop gathering will continue…then swarming and new queen produced early which is good for later in season. Plus brood break helps re varroa. Aside from a longer process cleaning for poly, it seems to beat wood on many fronts. Perhaps this will be of interest to beginners deciding on hive types or for those toying with making a change

Do you agree or do you have different observations about poly vs wood?
I'd pretty much agree with all of that, bees do tend to sweat more in poly though.
 
No they are not ... and with the length of time they last they compare very favourably with timber in terms of their environmental impact ....
Most are made form polystyrene I think , Isn't Polystyrene a form of plastic? does anyone have a definitive answer on this one?
 

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