The bee keeping equipment you use is determined by SEVEN factors that can only be answered by you (the bee keeper).
APITHROPIST(bee-lover): Are you in it to learn and help solve the problems we are having with Colony Collapse Disorder? Do you want to learn how to work with the bees to preserve their natural state as much as possible? Do you find it exciting to learn about them and their mysterious ways? Are you trying to work with the bees and their natural processes while avoiding making inputs to the hive that you deem to be unnatural? Are you concerned for the plight of the honey bee? Hive type accommodations: any observation hive, Warre hive, Horizontal-top-bar hive, Langstroth hive,
COMMERCIALIST: Are you in it to make a living? Do you want to maximize production so that you can make a decent income? Is your focus on honey production, or do you want to operate a honey bee farm? Hive type accommodations: Langstroth hive.
COMMERCIAL APITHROPIST: Do you want to maximize honey production or operate a honey bee farm using natural means (because you love bees)? Do you want to make an income doing it? Hive type accommodations: Langstroth hive.
The apiary equipment you choose is largely determined
by your purpose for keeping bees.
NATURALIST: Do you believe that honey bees do NOT need you to thrive? Are you convinced that any participation in bee keeping must be filtered through the aim of only doing what is best FOR THE BEES? Are you committed to avoid adding synthetic chemicals into your hive? Do you think that, by careful learning and practice, you can be an aid in the honey bees' powerful benefit to our natural habitat and our food cycle? Hive type accommodations: Warre hive, top-bar hive, Langstroth hive.
PRO-TREATMENT: Do you believe that honey bees DO need you to help them thrive? Are you convinced that honey bees are resilient enough to endure our modern agricultural bent toward pesticides? Are you okay with making inputs into the hive that might be unnatural (synthetic products), as long as it enables you to get the honey or brood production that you desire? Hive type accommodations: Langstroth hive, Horizontal-top-bar hive,
The purpose and philosophy of the bee keeper
are the most significant factors in determining
the correct bee keeping equipment to purchase.
All bee keeping requires a commitment of time (mainly during the growing seasons), but some require more than others. For example, those who use frames with foundation (generally Langstroth hives) must expend the time to assemble and maintain them. In contrast, foundationless frames (Langstroth) and top-bars (Horizontal-top-bar hives and Warre Hives) are more simple in set up and upkeep. Simple processes are enabled by simple designs. There are pros and cons to each type, so the new beekeeper must first determine his or her time commitment for keeping bees.
HOBBYIST: Can spend 2-5 hours a week tending and observing the bees. Hive type accommodations: Horizontal-top-bar hive, Warre hive, and Langstroth hive.
SIDELINER: Able to spend 10-15 hours a week working his or her apiary. Hive type accommodations: Langstroth hive, Horizontal-top-bar hive
FULL-TIME: Able to spend all his or her working hours managing the bee yard(s). Hive type accommodations: Langstroth hive
Bee keeping equipment decisions are less critical for the hobbyist than for the full-time (commercial) beekeeper. Efficient management of an apiary become proportionately more important in correlation to the number of hives involved in the operation.
LESS COSTLY: The basic construction of the main hive body is a simple design that can be constructed with common materials and with common skills. A design that facilitates easy management of the hive with very few moving parts. This factor significantly decreases the cost of becoming a bee keeper for those on a tight budget. Hive type recommendation: Horizontal-top-bar hives
MIDRANGE: The basic construction of the hive body(ies) is more complex but does not have the intricate frames and foundation. It's basic cost is significantly more than the HTB hive due to it's more intricate structure and multiple hive bodies required. This hive saves in another way though...the use of top bars versus frames and foundation. Hive type recommendation: Warre hives
MORE COSTLY: The basic construction of the main hive body(ies) are similar to the Warre hive, but also require more moving parts for the management of the colony and for the extraction of the honey from the combs. Conventional hives were designed to maximize honey production and tend to be more intricate. Every necessary intricacy increases manufacturing costs and ultimately the price that is paid for the bee keeping equipment. In contrast, There is also extra equipment (honey extractor and "supers" (stackable boxes above the main brood nest)necessary for the commercial keeper which enables him to sell more of his product. It's important to keep in mind that although there is more invested in the honey bee equipment, the pay-off with these types of hives are significantly higher due to their higher honey yield per hive. Hive type recommendation: Langstroth hive
In the short-term, financial constraints may prohibit the purchase of the proper bee keeping equipment. It is most recommended to save up until the correct equipment can be procured. This is especially true when a budding "commercialist" begins his operation. The exception to this might be if a new bee keeper cannot afford a Langstroth hive and wants to begin learning about bees by starting with a horizontal-top-bar hive. This is highly recommended and will prove to be worth his small expenditure.
Bee keeping equipment comes is various shapes and sizes. Some types of beehives are very simple and require very little storage of unused equipment. While others require a significant amount of storage space and specialized equipment to facilitate various tasks.
NO STORAGE REQUIRED: Horizontal-top-bar hive requires almost no need for storage of honey bee equipment or supplies.
LITTLE STORAGE REQUIRED: The Warre hive might have to store unused boxes during winter and early spring until the brood nest expands and the honey flow begins in earnest.
MORE STORAGE REQUIRED: The Langstroth hive requires the most storage space. Extra hive bodies (with drawn out comb) must be stored where insects can't damage the comb. Sometimes a freezer is needed to properly protect extracted comb frames during the winter storage months. A honey extractor and honey tank (for full-time operations) are sometimes required.
If a bee yard and the accompanying accommodations are
confined, this factor becomes more significant when
determining one's necessary bee keeping equipment.
This will vary from bee keeper to bee keeper, but my personal favorite for looks alone is the Warre hive, then the Langstroth and then the horizontal-top-bar hive. Recommendation: Warre Hive
Aesthetics, although more important to some bee keepers
than others, is a secondary consideration when determining
which beekeeping equipment you must have.
The simple and easy management of your colony will increase your enjoyment and satisfaction in keeping honey bees. When Reverend L.L. Langstroth brilliantly created the movable frame hive in the mid 1800's, the world of commercial bee keeping as we know it opened up. What was once difficult to do (efficiently managing bees) became simple and doable! Recommendations: (1) Langstroth hive; (2)Horizontal-top-bar hive ; (3)Warre hive.
Purpose, philosophy and function are the primary
factors to consider when determining what
bee keeping equipment you will need.
are made with the longest term goals in mind. Knowing WHY you are keeping bees and HOW each type of hive works, will help you determine the best type of bee keeping equipment to purchase.
Consider carefully and then
jump in with both feet!
Bee removals are extremely rewarding.
Not only is the beekeeper providing a service to the resident, but he/she is also saving bees and building up their apiary. An added benefit is the genetic diversity gained through the introduction of potential feral colonies.
Here are some of my recent adventures...