I've tried to keep up with the bee news from around the globe and gather some prospective on bees and bee hives. It seems clear to me that in today's world the use of hives of old and non-updated designs results in dead, dying or weak bees. This coupled with confusing and argumentative information and poor maintenance leads to further trouble and bee declines.
The British National Hive or the Commercial while a good and dependable design is not in line with today's beekeeping troubles. Most notable is the inability to weather the current pests of the hive. This could also be said of other designs. I will focus on this design for this post.
I recommend that each hive be modified in these manners:
- The bee space under the bar tabs has two areas: a flat area created by the side component and sometimes a beveled area that slopes away from the frame resting area. This sloped area should be eliminated as this area harbors Small Hive Beetles, especially in hives that are poorly maintained. This can be done by cutting and installing a standing metal piece instead of the aforesaid sloped edged. 3/8" should be under the tabs/lugs. See graphic in this post.
- Hives should have insulation added or a doubled thickness wall on the North or coldest side. Current hives can be fitted with a foam or wooden block under the handle in this space. This will provide for a more rounded and centered cluster during winter.
- Until a more successful device is created, oil trap pest pans should be installed that are from wall to wall and front to back. These are very effective on both Varrora mites and SHB's. This could be used with the suggestion in #4.
- Provide approx. a 2" space on top of the bottom board. This adds a thermal separation from cold bottoms and increases air flow during warmer times.
- Verify that the bottom of frames do not extend below the bottom of the hive body. I have seen hives where frames can extend into the next body due to different manufacturers or plans.
- All construction joints should be sealed with caulk, glue or other sealant to eliminate pest laying areas. This has the additional benefit of a longer lasting hive.
- Inner side walls of hives should be coated with Canola cooking oil before being placed into service. Coat surface freely, allow to soak in, wipe of excess, allow some time to "dry", then use. Surface will be shinny but should not be wet. This aids in cleaning and helps to deter some pests.
- Inner covers or crown boards if used should have at least three vent holes of bee escape size. See graphic on this post.
- Choose your cover or top wisely. Some harbor spiders and ants. Some provide ventilation, air spacing and space for food or patties. Some fail at everything. Remove metal tops, instead use other waterproofing materials or coatings. This reduces stress by eliminating the "metal roof" sound during rains.