View Full Version : Modified hive design

07-05-2007, 02:11 AM
I met a guy recently whos been keeping bees for a few years now. Because I'm interested in it myself (free honey!) I picked his brains over a beer.

Last winter one of his hives did not make it (starvation). He noticed that though the honey had been eaten at the core where they swarm for warmth the honey in the upper corners was untouched. His conclusion was that even though there was food, their instinct to keep the queen warm in the cluster was stronger and they did not venture out to it.

He is a finish carpenter and makes his own hives etc. As an experiment this year he made new hives that are only 7 frames wide, the idea is that the available honey will be closer to the swarm over the winter.

I know there are many experienced bee keepers on the forum, what do you think?

07-05-2007, 08:58 AM

Free honey

right ... it is not free

The bees are in a cluster ... not a swarm (leaves the hive)

I have had bees for 3 months now.

First if you are going to do bees take a beginnering beekeeper course.
and read read read

Bees will not break cluster for cold.
We keep 8 frame medium equipment.

In the winter ... on a warm day ... ie above 57 degrees then in early morning you
are suppose to go check youre hives and move the frames around ... putting the honey
next to the cluster but not breaking the cluster .. .this is what they told us in bee class.

and as for cheap ... we were told the first year all the honey is for the bees so NO honey
for us until next july 08.
So far we have spent on the two hives close to 1K in bees/hives/frames/foundation/clothing

and to build comb we are putting 1 gallon of sugar water per day per hive on the
boxes right now ... or about 30 pds of sugar a week ...

Free honey sure seems to be costing me a lot of money

But it is interesting and fun so far

Just dont think it is free and dont expect honey fast ... the bees need 70 pds of honey to
over winter in the va area.

so first year they get to keep it all
second year ... we hope to get some for us


The Honey Farmer
07-05-2007, 10:27 AM
I had the same problem with my bees when I used wood hives. I switched to Bee Max hives and that solved the problem.

I live at 7500 ft. in S.W. Colorado and when it's 10 below and a 30 mph. wind is blowing I know my girls safe and warm.

Being made of foam you can't move them around like wood hives but if you're not migratory the extra insulation from the cold and the heat is well worth it. IMHO

Bee Cool, Dennis

Oh yeah, wolf_tracker is right, that honey ain't free! :laughing7:

07-05-2007, 03:58 PM
Okay okay!! poor choice of words :P

I did read through a bit and took a look at "beekeeping 101", I am aware that I'd need to let the bees dig in for a ful year before I can think about honey and that I'll need to invest a lot of time and $$ into a healthy hive.

Frankly the most prohibative thing for me right now is that I live in the middle of the inner city and have no car. Keeping bees is illegal in Minneapoilis and even if I were to go against it they would be difficult to keep un noticed...

Bees will not break cluster for cold.
We keep 8 frame medium equipment.

In the winter ... on a warm day ... ie above 57 degrees then in early morning you
are suppose to go check youre hives and move the frames around ... putting the honey
next to the cluster but not breaking the cluster .. .this is what they told us in bee class.

Thanks for the info, just for clarification: do you keep the 8 frames specifically to aid the bees through the winter or was that just a cost/space thing?

These Bee Max hives sound interesting, how much do they run?

I have a freind in Ely MN who would be willing to put some hives up on his land, it's very tempting, his place is covered with wild flowers, wild strawberies, wild blueberries and juneberries, I can only imagine the honey from the north woods woudl be superb.

Of course I'd be 6 hours away so I wouldnt be able to check on them myself as often as I think I would need to
and there are Bears...
and the winters there will regularly break 40 below...

If I worked at it I might be able to solve the distance problem (300 miles in gas a week, theres that free honey again!) but what can you do about bears tearing hives apart or north woods winters?

07-05-2007, 04:39 PM

wish we could talk

10 frame deep about 100 - 110 lbs each
8 frame medium about 40 -55 lbs each with honey

there is a saying ... there are beekeepers with bad back or soon to have bad backs.

or mentor told us is she knew when she began what she knows now she would only have
8 frame mediums

to over winter you need 3 bodies instead of 2 deeps, but I can live with that
the starvation thing can happen with 8 or 10 frame ... you need to manage the hives
and check on them

bees will not break cluster and they share all their food ... so they will not walk 1 frame away to get
food and when they starve they all starve together ... a socila bee thing

did u check out the links in mn i sent you ... we live in the city ... keep our hive in a county park
you can try a balcony or behind bushes

one person told us if you have to drive more then 15 minutues to get to the bees you will not
do it... it has to be fun and interesting ... 300 miles ... is to far ...

read the law in the link i sent you ... we live near dc and know ppl in arlingington va who keeps bees

with the disappearing bees ... ppl might look the other way

call a beekeeper from the link in the page and ask someone there who does it

my .02

07-05-2007, 05:54 PM
Yo wolf! Got those PM's you sent me, sorry I just hadnt checked to see if I had any, I'll be sure to keep my eye on that in the future.

where was it...

found it.

From Minicode.com
"74.80. Keeping of honeybees.No person shall keep or allow to be kept any hive or other facility for the housing of honeybees. (Code 1960, As Amend., 816.080; Ord. of 6-13-75, 2) "


of course I think you were part of the discussion as well, there is a place in the inner city I might be able to get away with it and it is as close as you can be.
There is a 3 ft space between my garage and my neighbors (who are very interested in colaborating on a bee project), it would be well shaded in the summer, and we could fence it off to make sure that the bees would rise atleast 12 ft before heading to their pollen sources (and hide the hives from casual view of inspectors).
Though our neighborhood is kind of in the ghetto we have many fruit trees near by as well as several local gardens and parks.

In the winter we could move the hives on a 2 wheeler dolly to the middle of their (sunny and well fenced in) yard and wrap them in bubble wrap and space blankets to insulate (leave the exits available of course, for the expelling flight on warm days). Especially recently MN winters have been very irregualr, reaching the -10 and -20 days a few times but occasionally springing up to 50+ in the same week.

Crazy geurilla urban bee keeping scheem # 2 :tongue3: :
I have seen hives for science classes that are kept indoors with a long vent pipe that leads the bees to the outside.
If I had a hive set up like this I could keep it in an unused attic. They are only insulated on the floor and we could make them to have a little more airflow simply by installing vents near on the exterior wall. They will be safely above foot and car traffic, kept in an easily maintained environment (once we sweep all of the dust and lay a little plywood on the attic floor) and if inspectors do see them coming and hgoing from the house and for some reason ask a question I can simp;y tell them that we seem to have a wasp infestation up there but I'm afraid to check it out.
No law against having a wasp infestation in your attic.

Maybe over the top...
but these are the ideas that I have right now.
I know I still need to read more and take a class, but as a set up do you think this is viable?
I'll be checking out those links as well, their website said that most of their members live in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, I wonder where they're keeping thier hives? 15 minutes by highway can quickly put you into neighboring suberbs that may not have any such laws against bees (I know of one that is so small it does not even have inspectors).

Wolf, I'd love to talk. If you want to PM me again, or I could just let you have my e-mail to keep in more regualr contact.

07-05-2007, 07:33 PM

07-05-2007, 07:53 PM
When I was bee keeping in Pennsylvania I used the flat bird bath de-icers/heaters during the winter as heaters for my hives. The hives were set up on screened bottom boards and I would slip the heaters in under them. It really helped out, kept the hives warm enough so the bees could move around even when it was real cold. The added warmth also helped keep condensation out of the hives which can drip down on the cluster and chill the bees. A heater is not pratical for some but if you can run an extension cord out to the hives you will have a lot better chance of getting the bees thru the winter using a heater.

The Honey Farmer
07-06-2007, 08:55 AM
Geurilla urban bee keeping.
Wolfie, I love all your ideas. Go for it man, you're natural born bee keeper!

Bee Max hives can bee found at,,,, www.dadant.com

There are many ways to deal with bears, most will land you in jail.

Bee Cool, Dennis

07-06-2007, 09:29 AM


be nice

the legal way is an solar electric fence ... no over hanging branches and no hives within
four feet of the fence perimeter usually works from what i understand

but between the yards sounds interesting

but again ... pls contact a local beekeeper for help


The Honey Farmer
07-06-2007, 10:07 AM
You are correct wolf! The solar powered fence is what I do now, but I have seen bears jump over them, dig under them and just plain don't care and walk right through them. Here in Co. you call the DOW and they will offer you an electric fence free of charge. If you already have one they will come out with a live trap and capture the bear and take it way out in the mountains, set it free and hopefuly he moves into another bee keepers territory.

Wolfie, If there are bears around they will find your colonies! It's a heart breaking site to see what a bear can do to a bee yard in one night. If you can keep your bees close to home and out of bear country, do so.

Bee Cool, Dennis

07-09-2007, 03:12 AM
No bears in inner city Minneapolis...raccoons maybe. ::)

If I try hives out in Ely (which seems unlikely since it's 6 hours away, unless my Ely contact wants to do 99% of the work) there are definitely bears near by. One more deterrent to that idea for now I s'pose.

Keeping coons and critters out of the hives seems to be one more argument for exploring the idea of putting the bees in the peak of the house.

Thanks for all the input guys, this has been quite educational.

07-11-2007, 07:50 PM
Housing bees indoors was popular in some areas of Europe. They would build a small building with large low down open windows and set the hives so the bees would fly in and out of the windows. Then in winter the windows were covered with shutters to protect the hives. I remember reading about it in ABC/XYZ of Bee Keeping. Maybe you could adapt the idea and set hives up in a storage shed with an exit opening hidden up high and out of the way.