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What Hive to Use

88. A good hive gives the apiarist complete control of the combs. It must give sufficient room for the breeding apartment as well as for surplus honey, and must admit of close scrutiny and easy manipulation.

The Langstroth Hive

89. Though movable-frame hives were in use in Europe, in rude form, as early as 1795, they were not at all practical until our own distinguished and honored Langstroth, in 1852, presented the world with one that has, with his system of management, completely revolutionized beekeeping everywhere, making it a practical science.

With the movable-frame hive, all the combs can be taken out and replaced, or exchanged with other hives at will, without the least detriment to the bees. The combs having a surplus of honey can be emptied with the extractor (161), without injury, and returned to the hive to be refilled thus saving labor for the bees in making new combs, and honey for their keeper.

The queen can be found, examined, and, when necessary, can be replaced by one more prolific, or one in some other way more desirable; and artificial colonies can be made by dividing at will, as we shall see hereafter (111). If a colony be weak, it can be strengthened by giving it a frame or two of brood from some other hive or it may be fed by supplying it with combs of honey from wealthy colonies. In fact the movable frame enables the beekeeper to perform any operation he may see fit to do and control the condition of his bees and their increase.

Since the invention of the movable-frame hive, many hives of different styles have been devised, but the principal feature of this hive has been retained in nearly every instance, to wit: a hive containing frames which are spaced from the body of the hive, about 3/8 of an inch, on ends, bottom and top. This space prevents the bees from gluing the frames to the body of the hive with propolis (48), and makes them removable at all times, provided the comb has been built straight in them. This straight building of comb was formerly secured by a triangular edge on the under side of the frame top-bar, from which the bees hang their combs. It is now almost invariably secured by the aid of strips or full sheets of comb foundation (135).

Hive Details

90. The modern movable-frame hive is composed of the following parts; bottom-board or floor; brood chamber or body, containing a certain number of frames; supers or storage room, in which other frames or honey sections are used; cover or roof.

91. Hives are made dovetailed or lock-cornered as in Figs. 52 and 54, or halved as in Fig. 53.

The lock-corner hive, though more tightly fitting when first built, will last less time than the other, owing to its many joints exposed to the weather. Both hives are nailed from both sides, and unlikely to warp if well painted.

92. The plain hanging frame is used mostly, and is the easiest handled in the brood-chamber (Fig. 55). But some people use the Hoffman self-spacing frame (Fig. 56), which is a little better liked by beginners because they cannot make the mistake of putting too many or too few frames in each hive. The combs of the bees are spaced from 1 3/8 to 1 inches from center to center (44) within the brood-chamber (Fig. 53), and closer or farther spacing will result either in too narrow and imperfect combs, or in two combs being built on the same support, making undesirable irregularities (Fig. 57).

Many frames are now made with two grooves on the underside of the top-bar, one of which is for receiving the comb foundation (141), the other a wedge to fasten it (Fig. 58).

The all-important requirement in the use of movable-frame hives is to have the combs built straight in them, and this is secured by that device.

93. Most apiarists use hives containing ten brood-frames of Langstroth size, or measuring 9 1/8 inches x 17 5/8 outside. Some apiarists, however, use smaller hives containing only eight frames. The writer is much in favor of the large hives (Fig. 116), and uses a still deeper frame 11 x 18 inches as success cannot be expected permanently unless the hives are sufficiently spacious to accommodate the most prolific queens at the time of the breeding, previous to the honey crop. Not only must the hive brood-chamber contain cells enough for all the eggs that the queen may be able to lay in 21 days (which is the period required for the worker-bees to hatch), but it must also have space enough to hold, in addition, enough honey (49) and pollen (55) for their needs.

A very important recommendation must be made here. Whatever hive you decide to use, have but one size, one style, not only in number of frames but in all parts where interchange may become necessary. You must be able to exchange, not only frames of combs containing brood or honey, from one hive to another, but supers (Fig. 53) or upper stories, sections (148), bottom boards or covers (Fig. 53).

Most of the success of an apiarist is due to his being able to exchange one part of a hive for the same part of another hive, without hesitancy and without delay. So, get well informed as to the style of hive and fixtures best suited to your location and use no other, until you see fit to change your entire system. The writer has paid dearly for the experience which prompts this advice.

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