Eventually Decided on the Beehives
It’s been a bit cooler recently so I’ve not taken the roof off for a proper look for quite a while now, I just hope that seeing as it’s been warmer then usual for the time of year, and they have still been flying to some extent, that they are not using up all their winter stores early.
Cedar or Poly Hives?
I’ve made a few decisions in the last few weeks about how I’m going to do things next year and which hive equipment I want to use, as a result I’ve been buying quite a bit of kit these last few weeks.
Having spoken to several people it is still true that the cedar British national hive is by far the most popular with the beekeepers around here, however I am not convinced (in my infinite wisdom!!!). There are 2 main reasons for this. First the Cedar hive thing, true, if you are going the wood route then Cedar has to be the best choice, but, I’m convinced that polystyrene hives is the way to go, it’s drier, warmer and lighter, not to mention significantly cheaper. Paynes have just started selling their own range of poly hives which I have got my eye on, I’m going to wait until a few more experienced people on the forums get their hands on them and give some feedback before I spend any more money, but I would expect they have designed them well. So I am inclined to go the poly route when I buy complete hives. Probably with home made wooden supers, seeing as they only need to be outdoors for the summer, which although it could be wet, will be warmer too, so they will dry out again and should last a fair while.
Standard National or 14X12
I don’t think I know anyone round here who uses 14×12 brood boxes, so buying and/or selling Nucs requires me to use them, however there seems to be one big reason for going the 14×12 route, namely convenience. Most people seem to keep double brood boxes or brood and a half if they have anything other than traditional British bees. To me, splitting the brood in half every time I need to do an inspection is not only inconvenient, but is also an unnecessary intrusion into the hive and can’t be a good thing for the bees. After all, pulling the frames out one by one is bad enough, but splitting the whole thing in 2 every time just makes it worse. So I am going to keep a mix of standard national brood boxes and 14×12. If I eventually go entirely 14×12 in the future I can either sell the old standard boxes, or use them as supers if I have a big enough extractor.
There is also the winter stores benefit of using 14×12, as I wouldn’t need to keep an additional super on there with winter stores either, I can just leave them to fill it adequately themselves and have plenty of stores in there. I can always add some fondant in late winter or early spring if they are too light.
It All Adds Up!
So, having made this decision I am making some nucs this winter, I’ve already had some wood cut, but that’s another story and I will probably put a page up about making nucs, once I know I’ve done it right, or it could end up being a story about the things to avoid when making them! I’m planning to dot these around the local countryside in the hope of catching some swarms in the spring, then I can fetch one home quickly if needed for swarm control in the apiary.
But Masemore have had a big sale on and I’ve bought 50 frames each or 14×12, deep nationals and shallow nationals, some foundation to go with it and 2 bee suits, which are much better quality than the original one I bought which the bees could sting straight through if they wanted to,,, and they did! I also bought some Cedar hive parts, but only because they were cheap seconds, but they look OK to me.
So all in all it’s been quite expensive, but I do now have a longer term plan and a dining room full of boxes of bits!