Observation Hives

Wknz

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On the previous forum someone posted re observation hives.

I found this design and thought I'd share it. Its beautifully made and very practical.

As a beginner beek it does raise the question of why some folks keep bees in nucs and not hives.

DSC_1476.jpg

It comes with sketchup plans.

 
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As a beginner beek it does raise the question of why some folks keep bees in nucs and not hives.
its for show and tell. they take bees/frames out of a hive and put it in that. take it to show. then bring it back and return it to the hive.
no beek "keeps" bees in nucs. nucs are temporary homes for very weak colonies. they get transferred to hives when strong enough.
 

Sailabee

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The observation hive which holds 5 frames down the bottom and has a queen excluder between top and bottom, goes to the likes of the local A & P show - it is two days long, so I take it full, but if I am using it for only one day, I have a mesh base I can screw on the top bit, and only take one frame - preferable with a laying queen, so people can watch her at work, and they can play 'spot the queen'. I have a small funnel in the side which goes down to a small reservoir - actually an upturned small lid, and kids can squirt 25% sugar solution in to keep the colony hydrated, and provide sugar for the entertainment. To leave the bees in overnight, I have a styrene cover over the top frame, to stop them chilling - particularly the queen.
 

Wknz

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its for show and tell. they take bees/frames out of a hive and put it in that. take it to show. then bring it back and return it to the hive.
no beek "keeps" bees in nucs. nucs are temporary homes for very weak colonies. they get transferred to hives when strong enough.
Gotta say I would freak out lifting my queen from the hive to display her.

I had read of overseas folks doing two or three high nucs but it seemed more around walk away splits? Not full time keeping except in a few cases. They claimed it was better for weight etc but also lived in temperate climates so less worries about a hive getting chilled.
Thanks
 

stoney

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FBD5FD16-919F-45B2-A990-2256DEDE8C65.png
Thiss was the basic observation hive we used, one of the guys made it and worked well for the local schools. Frame of brood and one of food, kids loved trying to find the marked queen.
 
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NickWallingford

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I built an observation hive 3 full depth frames high. I used perspex, which 'crazed' pretty soon after, so replaced it with glass. Two critical issues: the glass sides might best be slid down into a groove - if it is flat to the wood, the bees line up to propolise and don't much like that gap of air. Other issue is ventilation/cooling generally. Any place you can incorporate some mesh would be good. It is such an unnatural situation that they struggle to maintain their micro-climate. Oh, yes, and glass was good as I could circle individual cells with a marking pen so students could watch the development from egg to larva to pupa. Though finding the (marked) queen was always exciting, I recall more ooohs and aaahs watching young bees emerge from their cells...
 

Dave Black

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That's interesting. I used a 3-frame with slots and it's was hell trying to slide the glass out. I concluded that it would be better if the sheets were flat on the wood!

I suppose, now that I think about it, I can't remember why I was trying to get the glass out anyway.

Ventilation, concur. Also removable, imsulated, sides to cover the glass. The useful thing I learnt was to stock it with an old queen.

But the trouble with these, besides portability, was that you had to make them up every time. The idea behind the OP is that you can keep it going all summer. Never won prizes at the Show tho.
 

NickWallingford

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Indeed. I have seen a similar design, and figured some variation would have been much better than what I had. I may be confusing several of my observation hives from over the years. I'm almost sure I put the perspex (and subsequently, glass) direct to the wood, with clips screwing into the wood to retain it - and it was that join/air gap that the bees were obsessed by. I think it was a smaller (one frame) obs hive I made later than had the glass slot down into it. But it was eminently a 'make up and take to a school/etc to show them, then bring it back and put it back with the real colony' sort of thing. I always had ambitions of an obs hive with a size and design that could make it nearly self-sustaining (at least compared to the above attempts). Though I never made one, the design of the OP has always intrigued me...
 

NickWallingford

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This written about 25 years ago, I think...

Observation hives...

I've used a variety of observation hives, including a 1 frame 'portable', a 2 frame not quite so portable and a 4 frame vertical. And I agree with Kerry Clark - the 4 frame was withoutdoubt the best for a permanent location. The 2 framer I only ever used as temporary - run out and grab a few frames, one with honey, one with brood. Find the marked queen to put on it. And brace it well in the car (it was perspex...).

One design (Russian?) that always intrigued me had one or two vertical frames (one frame wide, that is), then a strip of queen excluder, then, effectively, a 4 frame nuc fitted on top. The 4 frame area was closed in (not glass) and acted as a reservoir for bees/honey that allowed the unit to be more permanent.

Two choices for how you fit the glass/perspex - 'onto' the surface (using clips, called 'mirror clips', I think,
___
__|XXXXXXX


to fix the glass/perspex against the surface). Or sliding the glass/perspex into a groove from the top of the observation hive (only really possible with perspex). Latter gives less air leakage around the edges - I found the bees didn't care for that (lots standing facing the draught at the edges).

Make SURE you have adequate means of dealing with condensation - build in HEAPS of mesh, etc, even if you have to keep it covered.
But I found no trouble with 25mm (1in) square of mesh at top and bottom of hive. Especially just after installing, you'll be amazed at the moisture given off.

Perspex tended to craze after several years, not being as sparkly clean as when first made. Glass is easier to write on - its neat to circle eggs, and date them, watching the development.

If for a permanent location, you can have heaps of fun designing entrance ways that allow you to 'draft' individual bees into side chamber, where you could, say, mark them or remove pollen, etc. And you can by having a wide entrance, arrange to have incoming bees going down one side and outgoing down another:

. ---------------------------------
.colony -----\ <---incoming
. \ bees
. ---> \-------------------------
. ---------------------------------


For a unit that you'll be moving alot, or if it will be worked regularly, work out a way of easily closing off the entrance and being able to take the whole unit outside - much better than trying to do bee work inside a classroom, for instance.

Design some sort of feeder system, too, for a permanent unit - they'll need a lot of babying along in most locations. You may need to top them up with bees/brood. And in a good season, they'll be able to generate more swarms than you'd think possible!

REFERENCES

Stevenson, Lt H R. 1985. Establish an observation hive and promote beekeeping! Amer Bee Journal. February 1985, pp 89-90.

Gale, Dr F C. 1972. Observation beehives. Amer Bee Journal. 112(1): 8-9.

Taber, Steve. 1980. Bee behavior. Amer Bee Journal. January 1980, pp 14-15.

Gary, N E. 1968. A glass-walled observation hive. Amer Bee Journal 108(3):92-94, 108(4):143-144, 146.

Connor, L J. 1974. Observation bee hives. Beekeeping Information Number 10. Entomology Extension, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. 4 pp.

Bosch, K. 1980. The observation hive and scale colony - two important tools. Amer Bee Journal 120(10):712-715, 721.

Pedigo, Bobby. 1985. This is what we call a real observation hive. Amer Bee Journal. Nov 1985, pp 737-738 (letter to editor with photograph).

Lindauer, M. 1961. Communication among social bees. Harvard Univ Press, Cambridge, MA., p 17.

Gojermac, Walter L. Building and operating an observation hive. Univ of Wisc-Extension bulletin A2491. 6pp.

Witherell, Peter C. 1970. Behavior of honeybees in glass-covered runways. Gleanings in Bee Culture. November 1970, pp 564-668.

Blanchet, Felix. 1979. Honey producing observation hive. Amer Bee Journal. February 1979. pp 114-115,137.

Lehnert, T and Cantwell, George E. 1966. The Beltsville research apiarium. Amer Bee Journal 106(9):336-337.

Anonymous. 1949. Single-frame observation hive. Co-operative Extension work in Agric and Home Economics, North Carolina State
College and U S Dept of Agriculture Cooperating. 1pp.

Caron, D M. 1979. Observation bee colonies. Entomology Leaflet 103, Dept Entomology, Univ Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. 14pp.

Gary, N E and Lorenzen, K. 1976. How to construct and maintain an observation hive. Dev Agr Sci, Univ California Leaflet 2853. 18pp.

Jaycox, E R. 1973. Making and using an observation bee hive. Dept Hort, Univ Illinois Publ H-678, Urbana, IL 61801. 4pp.
 
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NickWallingford

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Yes, reading that, I may have been imagining swapping the perspex for glass - and it was a 4 frame unit I had, rather than three. I do remember having it permanently mounted in the living room. Near the Otipua River, outside of Timaru. I saw heaps of dark red/brown pollen carrying bees dancing in the same direction. I worked it out, walked down into the river area - and found them working the lupin. Inter species communication, like when a parrot taught me to whistle the Mexican national anthem...

Something I haven't said... As @Dave Black says, best if you can have insulation, or at the very least, blackened out covers for when people aren't actually looking at it. Bees probably don't like all that exposure - I'm amazed they can communicate with wag tail dances as well as they do - in the mostly dark of the inside of a hive!

But I'll repeat that one (for me) essential feature - you want to be able to block it off and take it outside to work the colony when that is necessary. And given the unnatural sizing of these observation hives, you will need to do a fair bit of that...
 

Sailabee

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I used 8 mm glass in grooves, but quickly switched to perspexs as with 5 full frames, found it got really heavy to shift as time marched on. Only left bees in for a max of three days.
 

Sailabee

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Yes, reading that, I may have been imagining swapping the perspex for glass - and it was a 4 frame unit I had, rather than three. I do remember having it permanently mounted in the living room. Near the Otipua River, outside of Timaru. I saw heaps of dark red/brown pollen carrying bees dancing in the same direction. I worked it out, walked down into the river area - and found them working the lupin. Inter species communication, like when a parrot taught me to whistle the Mexican national anthem...

Something I haven't said... As @Dave Black says, best if you can have insulation, or at the very least, blackened out covers for when people aren't actually looking at it. Bees probably don't like all that exposure - I'm amazed they can communicate with wag tail dances as well as they do - in the mostly dark of the inside of a hive!

But I'll repeat that one (for me) essential feature - you want to be able to block it off and take it outside to work the colony when that is necessary. And given the unnatural sizing of these observation hives, you will need to do a fair bit of that...
I wouldn't advise using perspex for other that where the hive is only being used for two or three days max, as any burr comb on the perspex is a pig to get off without munting the clear surface.
 
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Nearly 50 years ago I set up a one frame observation hive in the biology lab at high school. It had clear plastic tubing leading to a hole in the wall and the bees quite happily walked in and out. We had dark curtains to give them some privacy and they did pretty well.
Biology was the only subject I was really interested in and so when I was asked how often it would need to be checked I told a little white lie and said that it needed monitoring every day so I got to spend my lunchtime in the biology lab. I think that was the only time I ever enjoyed high school. I was going to do fifth form biology but my careers teacher told me, and this is a direct quote ; biology is for idiots and girls.
So I left school and went beekeeping.
Funnily enough over the years I have met many many brilliant biologists, even the girl ones .
 

Bron

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@John B we had lab rats! My seventh form year, which my mother suggested I do because I was only 16, and I quote, “You’re a long time working, so why start this early!” I spent most of my time creating new maze runs and setting up biology labs for the junior school. Wish I’d known then about bees! I’d have been real keen on an observation hive.
 

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