For those proposing to keep bees for the first time there is a choice of several hives. Those most widely used in Britain are British National Hive, Smith Hive, Modified Commercial Hive, Langstroth and Modified Dadant Hives. The basic feature common to all these hives is that they use rectangular wooden boxes, open top and bottom, which can be tiered one upon another, the first resting on a floorboard incorporating an entrance and the top one covered with a roof.
The frames enclosing the combs hang in the boxes. The combs in the lower part of the hive form the brood nest in which the eggs are laid by the queen and in which the resulting larvae are reared by the nurse bees. Above the box, or boxes, containing the brood nest are placed .boxes of combs for the storage of honey, as required during the season. Between the brood nest and the upper boxes (usually known as honey ‘supers’) may be placed a perforated horizontal screen (queen excluder) through which worker bees can pass but not the larger-bodied queen. The use of a queen excluder prevents the queen from laying eggs in the boxes provided for honey storage and facilitates removal of the honey at the end of the season. Whereas deep boxes with correspondingly deep combs are used for the brood nest, shallower boxes (supers) with shallower combs are usually used for honey storage. Sometimes, in order to give more room for brood rearing, a shallow box or a second deep box is added to the brood nest.
The hives described above take frames of different sizes. The frames most in demand from British manufacturers are, at present, the Standard British 14 x 81/2 in. deep and 14 X 51/2 in. shallow frames. With 1 ½ in. long lugs these frames fit the British National hive; if the hugs are shortened to 3/4 in. they are suitable for the Smith hive. These hives, like the others described, are single walled and suitable for large or small scale beekeeping. There are other hives, namely The WBC (double skinned) that look more decorative in a small garden apiary but with single walled hives management is simpler, the labour involved is less and the movement of whole apiaries for pollination or to heather moors becomes a much more practicable
To start with, a hive consisting of a floor, deep box and two or three shallow super boxes, inner cover (or crownboard) and roof should be obtained, together with a queen excluder. This will usually suffice for the first season, but it is useful to have a spare hive of the same pattern, with one deep box, in reserve in case it becomes necessary to house a swarm.
Frames can be bought completely assembled and fitted with foundation ready for use, but a cheaper alternative is to buy flat pack or self assembly along with sheets of wired foundation for assembly and nailing together at home.
Why should the beekeeper unite bees?The most important reasons are:
- The colonies are very small or weak
- One of the colonies has lost its queen
- There have been lots of swarms and the swarms are very small so may not be productive for this harvest
- The beekeeper wants to try rearing queens and wants to build up strong colonies
- The colonies need feeding or treating and it is cheaper to do this with a smaller number of colonies that can be divided when they are strong enough.
- The beekeeper might want to make nucleus hives from more than one colony to reduce the weakening effect this has on each colony
Listed Below are the believed rolls for the worker Bees’Cell Cleaning (Day 1-2) Brood cells must be cleaned before the next use – cells will be inspected by the queen and if unsatisfactory will not be used. Worker bees in the cleaning phase will perform this cleaning. If the cells are not clean, the worker bee must do it again. Nurse bee (Day 3-11) Nurse bees feed the worker larvae worker jelly which is secreted from glands that produce royal jelly. Advanced Nurse Bees (Day 6-11) Feed royal jelly to the queen larva and drones receive worker jelly for 1 to 3 days at which time they are started on a diet of honey and pollen. Wax production (Day 12-17) Wax Bees – build cells from wax, repair old cells, and store nectar and pollen brought in by other workers. Early in the worker’s career she will exude wax from the space between several of her abdominal segments. Four sets of wax glands, situated inside the last four ventral segments of the abdomen, produce wax for comb construction. Worker activities Honey sealing (Day18 – 22 ) Mature honey, sufficiently dried, is sealed tightly with wax to prevent absorption of moisture from the air by workers deputized to do same. Drone feeding Drones do not feed themselves; they are fed by workers. Queen attendants The attendants groom and feed the queen. They also collect QMP (Queen Mandibular Pheromone) from the queen and share it with the bees around them who also share it spreading its effects through the hive. Honeycomb building Workers will take wax from wax producing workers and build the comb with it. Pollen packing Pollen brought into the hive for feeding the brood is also stored. It must be packed firmly into comb cells and mixed with a small amount of honey so that it will not spoil. Unlike honey, which does not support bacterial life, stored pollen will become rancid without proper care. It has to be kept in honey cells. Propolizing The walls of the hive are covered with a thin coating of propolis, a resinous substance obtained from plants. In combination with enzymes added by the worker this has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Propolis is used to aide with ventilation and at the entrances of hives. Mortuary bees Dead bees and failed larvae must be removed from the hive to prevent disease and allow cells to be reused. They will be carried some distance from the hive by mortuary bees. Guard Bees (Days 18 – 21) protect the entrance of the hive from enemies Soldiers hang around near the entrance and attack invaders. They work in concert with entrance guards. Entrance guard bees inspect incoming bees to ensure that they are bringing in food and have the correct hive odor. Other bees will be rejected or attacked with soldier bees. Outside guard bees may take short flights around the outside of the hive in response to disturbances. Fanning bees Worker bees fan the hive, cooling it with evaporated water brought by water carriers. They direct airflow into the hive or out of the hive depending on need. Water carriers When the hive is in danger of overheating, these bees will obtain water, usually from within a short distance from the hive and bring it back to spread on the backs of fanning bees. The worker bee has a crop separate from the nectar crop for this purpose. Foraging bees (Days 22 – 42) The forager and scout bees travel (up to 1.5 miles) to a nectar source, pollen source or to collect propolis.