'The Pine Hive' - Advice please?

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Hey Dishmop and Pargyle, don't be sorry at all! This is the reason that I came onto this forum in the first place. I've got no interest in putting something out onto the market if it doesn't work for the bees/beekeeper. I'm not going to give up on it just yet though, I'll keep it as a sideline project and hopefully one day I'll have got it to the point where it works (even if it's just for me). Thats a good shout Dishmop - before I start building the next version of my own hive, I'll find the plans for a National or something similar and build that. Probably something I should have done at the start! Ah well aha. All extremely good points Pargyle, I'll keep them in mind for sure! :) If I'm completely honest, my initial aim for this beehive project was for it to be a foot in the door for any form of eco-friendly design or conservation work. I wanted to test myself and see if I could really immerse myself in a good cause, plus I just love being and working outdoors! Along the way I just became besotted by the furry little buggers haha, they're very easy to love :)

In all seriousness though, thanks everyone for the help and advice. When I get my own colony set up and happy I'm sure you'll hear from me again!
Have you considered going along to a Newcastle Beekeepers Association & meeting some beekeepers who I'm sure would give you feedback & possibly even road test it for you. They meet 2nd Tuesday of each month at Summerhill Bowling Club @ 7.30, check their website for details.
I'll keep it as a sideline project and hopefully one day I'll have got it to the point where it works (even if it's just for me).

Saddly I only see that you will just finish up with something which is the same as we are already using..

A box is a box.
If you wanted to use frames with short lugs you could have used National "Commercial" or Langstroth. You can't transfer from one hive to another and take n-minutes to trim the frame ends first.

I don't think the interlocking bit between the brood box and super is significant, it's similar to the design of the Paradise poly hives sold by Modern Beekeeping. They come apart easily enough, but some people don't like them because they think they're more likely to crush bees when putting the hive back together. Perhaps the 45 degree angle you've used will make it less likely bees will be crushed, and the only place they can propolise is where the surfaces meet within the hive so it probably won't stick too much - but you'll only know for sure when you use it, which is the ultimate test of your project.

You've already realised that you need a slope on those handles to get rid of rain etc., otherwise the joint between them and brood box is likely to rot quite quickly.

I'm not convinced by the garden on top, although I have seen hives with planters on top. I think in the long term it's something that a buyer will get rid of as being a nuisance, more especially when there are four or five supers on the hive. What's the roof covered with to make it waterproof (probably there already, but I haven't noticed)

Have you given any thought to insulation? A lot of people like to add a slab of kingspan or similar inside the roof to keep the bees cooler in the summer and to help maintain heat in the winter. The soil might help to some extent, but if the planter is discarded maybe you could think of some way of making insulation a permanent feature?

Thornes sell Danish Oil as a timber treatment. I've no idea if it's any good, tends not to work too well with polystyrene hives.

I agree with others that a clear/polycarbonate crown board is probably the best thing to use because it gives a good view of the frame tops, but I also like the idea of the little observation window on the side of the brood box.

I haven't read carefully enough to know if you've chosen top or bottom bee space.

I quite like the way this hive looks. It's unusual, but not in an awkward sort of way, and it's a lot better than some of the other degree projects around. A bit of tweaking and I think you'll have something unusual that might be marketable to those that want something a bit different.
I'd say top marks as a design project, full of interesting new ideas along with sensible compromises. Good idea to use existing standards where possible.

I don't think the current design will quite work in the field because of all the niggles that other people have already pointed out.

Pargyle in particular is very much worth listening to - his long journey from re-inventing the beehive towards using standard equipment with a few tweaks has been very well documented on the forum!
I have to admit, when I was testing how the hive would assemble/disassemble I found that the supers fit perfectly in the space that the roof garden would be. A surprising convenience and one that probably needs investigating a bit more. Would you suggest removing the flowerbed on top then? It was more done from an aesthetic standpoint rather than for efficiency - would not be sorely missed!

I came up with two simple green roof ideas for my hives a few years ago after seeing a webpage about a permanent sedum roof. I'd be surprised if you didn't see mine and the other article through a google image search for hive green roof. As well as being aesthetically pleasing green roofs are meant to be good insulators, it's also normal practice to weigh down hive roofs against the wind removing them and it can be useful to make a hive less obviously like a bee hive.

The original article I found involved permanently securing sedum mats to a gabled WBC roof. But as already mentioned most beekeepers like to put the roof upside down on the floor to place hive components on.

I came up with using a seperate box containing growing substrate and plants above the normal roof's metal skin with the sides extending below it's floor around the roof edge to secure it. It was a bit on the heavy side though so I replaced most of the wooden floor with correx and later changed it to two seperate boxes to reduce weight when removing and replacing them further and eventually experimented with drainage holes too.

I found that even adequately drained they got pretty heavy when it was wet so whilst I quite liked having them in place the extra lifting to remove and replace them was a drag and this year I've removed them. I have a vague notion to revisit the idea using sedum matting to make a lighter shallower version at some point.
Hey guys - it's a wheel - only square ?


Don't want to pi$$ on anybody's chips here but;

We have a good choice of hive designs already, (developed over a very long time period).

Any design feature that locks the boxes together is going to do just that, but permanently once they propolise the inevitable gaps.

Perhaps the best development plan would be to house a colony in one of these hives and see if they work?

If it aint broken, don't fix it.
Personally I prefer cedar.
I'll try my best to be constructive here, but without being Mr. Grumpy ... :)

As you can tell, I'm a designer not a beekeeper (yet) haha

Then that is a situation of putting the cart before the horse, as they say.

Nothing tugs on the heartstrings more, imo, than watching someone spending considerable time and effort creating something that - in all probablilty - will not work. For the final arbiters of beehive design are not human beings, but the bees themselves, and so any novel type of beehive or piece of beekeeping equipment really needs to be developed using a contemporaneous methodology, so that if (or more likely 'when') the bees reject anything, that aspect of the design can then be quickly modified or abandonded, without spending further time or effort fruitlessly.

But - in order to do this - you need a hive of bees to be working with !

I agree with what Pargyle has written, and his comment about innovation being the province of the novice, but there are some of us who continue 'fiddling' with new ideas year after year - it's part of our essential make-up. You only need to look at Dave Cushman's site to see the epitome of life-long beekeeping 'inventors'. :)

The difference though, is that we test our ideas with real-life bees at the earliest opportunity. For example, I can show you half a dozen ways of how NOT to build syrup feeders, and just one way that I'm really pleased with - or rather, that the bees are pleased with ...

As far as eco-friendly is concerned - look to using unwanted pallets - for millions of pallets are discarded every year, with most ending-up as firewood. It's a very valuable and under-rated resource.

I wish you good luck with your design work - but strongly suggest you get a hive of bees asap to test your ideas upon.

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The hive has serious faults. One is bottom board.
Entrance is in the box wall and bottom board gathers rainwater.
Entrance is too small.

Sedum on roof...very strange

You may get the same appearance when you take away the bassic faults which make bee nursing difficult.
. . . .
Then that is a situation of putting the cart before the horse, as they say. . . .

strongly suggest you get a hive of bees asap to test your ideas upon.

One idea might be to ask your local association to hive their next swarm in one of your hives???

We are struggling at work where "engineering" have given us their new super re-designed tool. It works "more efficiently" and secures bolts in half the time of the old one. We pointed out that it looked flimsy and with the sockets being longer than the old tool there was a possibility that it may wear more quickly than the old gun. But who were we to challenge the great university trained dictators??
Their "super tool" has broken so many times that the now have no spare parts for it, the obsolete gun has been scrapped before the new one was proven!

Just think You need to prove the "improvements" before you move on.

You can. I've just tried to make it a lot more secure than having them simply rest on top of one another.

I think you have misunderstood why we haven't got interlocking boxes at the moment.
I think this flush bevel joint is going to give nothing but trouble - working any hive tool into that gap is going to be a nightmare and the nice crisp edges are going to be chewed up something chronic in no time at all. Something noone has really discussed yet (but Dishmop mentioned earlier on) is that this bevel concept means you cannot slide the boxes over each other - you will get brace comb/propolis sticking frame bottom bars on one super onto the top bars of the other. We are taught early on that before we lift one box we slide it around through ninety degrees to break any seal between the two boxes and franes With your design you can only lift the boxes straight up - which means you will be lifting up the frames in the box below and when they part.........................
There is a reason why the boxes are just sat flush on top of each not interlocking - this is it.
What about queen excluders?
The hive has serious faults. One is bottom board.
Entrance is in the box wall and bottom board gathers rainwater.

You could well be right..
I like how your hive looks - it reflects the work put into it - but as it stands, it would not be for me. It would be very fiddly to work with it so hopefully some of the comments will help you continue to develop it. :) For some beekeepers, the "look" of the hive is very important, and these will be the people to target with your design.
Some valid points have already been posted about rainwater gathering and causing problems, along with potential for the beveled edges to get propolised together. Without the beveled edges you would be better able to slide the supers into position, reducing the number of bees crushed. This sliding action is very important, especially when you are placing heavy supers back onto the hive...... weight is an important factor to consider in beekeeping. On that point, what will your hive roof weigh when filled with some sort of growing medium and planted up? How much will that weight increase when the growing medium is wet or waterlogged? Rather than planting up hive roofs, had you considered designing a stand for these hives which could incorporate a planter? The stand would need to leave the hive accessible for routine inspections and would ideally incorporate a rest for frames lifted out of the hive during the inspection. Often hive stands are spaced so that a frame will hang between the rails of the stand.
By trimming the frame lugs you have essentially created "Smith" frames so perhaps you should standardize lug dimensions to the "Smith" parameters. As an alternative (and to retain the short lugs, you could incorporate "Commercial" or "Langstroth" frames in future developments of the model.
It looks like a hive designed to provide shelter for spiders and their webs. This is a serious comment as spiders eat bees, and the webs will inevitably get stuck in the hives.

A pain to paint as well.. and once in use any protruding bits will be knocked etc..

I would not consider such a hive as a practical possibility.
Wow, a lot of things to think about! Will take me a while to work through the replies and think about them all individually. All I can say in response at the moment is that as soon as I get the hive back from up north, I'll be setting it up and just seeing how it works. That's really all I can do now. I feel like now I need to enter into a fairly long period of trial and error with my own hive, which I realistically accept may end up with the scrapping of the whole idea. I'm okay with that though, it's been a bloody good project and I've learnt a lot :) I also look forward to bombarding you all with questions when I begin the construction and use of my own National Hive as well! haha

..........yet :D

If I'm honest, rudeness would not bother me in the slightest. I kind of feel that anybody who takes the time to be rude over the internet is saying a lot more about themselves than they could ever hope to say about me ;) I'm happy either way.

Oh and thanks again for all the advice! Hugely hugely appreciated everyone :)
It looks like a hive designed to provide shelter for spiders and their webs. This is a serious comment as spiders eat bees, and the webs will inevitably get stuck in the hives.

I used to get very upset when I found spiders living in the lifts and roof spaces of WBCs, but I've given up worrying about them. They just don't seem to eat *enough* bees to cause a real problem. Maybe they even help out by catching the odd wax moth or wasp.

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