Bee hives were designed after the discovery of “Bee Space” (or) “Bee Passage” by L.L.Langstroth. It is the optimum distance to be left in between two adjacent comb surfaces in a bee hive which is essential for normal movement and functioning of bees. It is too small for comb construction and is too large for propolis deposition.
Bee keeping in movable frames
- It is the noblest innovation in bee keeping which has several advantages
- Hive volume can be increased (or) decreased based on need
- Easy to assess food store position
- Bees can be fed artificially
- Brood development can be effectively monitored
- Artificial queen rearing can be done
- Old and damaged combs can be removed
- Bees can be easily observed with least disturbance. Honey can be extracted without damaging the comb. More honey can be extracted by giving more honey supers.
Bee hives are constructed mainly with seasonal timber such as teak, kail (or) toon. The timber should be free from insect holes, dead knots, shakes, splits and cracks. The thickness of the wooden walls should be 20 mm
Types of bee hive
- Newtons hives, BIS hives and Marthandam hive are suited for rearing Indian bees.
- Langstroth hive are suited for rearing Italian bee
- It is a four sided rectangular wooden box of cross section without a top and bottom.
- It kept on the floor board. A rabbet is cut in the front and back walls of the brood chamber.
- The brood frames rest on the rabbetted walls. Notches on the outer surface of the side walls are useful for lifting.
- It is kept over the brood chamber and its construction, is similar to that of brood chamber.
- Super frames are hung inside the chamber. The length and width of this chamber is similar to that of brood chamber. The height may be also similar, if it is full depth super as in Langstroth hive.
- But the height will be only half if it in a shallow super as Newton’s hive. Surplus honey is stored in super chamber. The height of the chamber is 9.5 cm. The inner height of the frame is 6.0 cm (BIS hive).
- It insulates the interior of the hive. In Newton’s hive, it has sloping planks on either side.
- On the inner ceiling plank there is a square ventilation hole fitted with a wire gauge. Two holes are present in the front and rear also that helps in air circulation.
- In Langstroth hive and BIS hive, the hive cover consists of a crown board (or) inner cover and an outer cover.
- The inner cover is provided with a central ventilation hole covered with wire gauze.
- The outer cover is covered over with a metallic sheet to make it impervious to rain water.
- Circular ventilation holes covered by wire gauze help in air circulation. It protects the hive against rain and Sun.
- The frames are so constructed that a series of them may be placed in a vertical position in the brood chamber (or) the super chamber, so as to leave space in between them for bees to move.
- Each frame consists of a top bar, two side bars and a bottom bar nailed together. Both the ends of the top-bar protrude so that the frame can rest on the rabbet.
Comb Foundation Sheet
- It is a thin sheet of bee wax embossed with a pattern of hexagons of size equal to the base of natural brood cells on both sides.
- The size of the hexagon varies with bee species. The sheet is fixed to the frames on fine wires threaded through holes in the side bars and stretched tight.
- A spur embedder or an electrical heating device is used to embed wires into the comb foundation sheets which are prepared in a comb foundation mill.
- It is a small tool with a spur or round wheel on the top.
- It is used to fix the comb foundation sheet on the wires off the frame. Electric wire embedder is also used for this purpose which is useful to reinforce the comb and give extra strength to the comb.
- It is made up of high density polythene (plastic). It can be used in both super and brood chamber.
- Since the comb is fully moulded, bees only put wax caps on the cells.
- It is a wooden board slightly larger than the brood frame. It is placed inside the brood chamber.
- It prevents the bees from going beyond it. It can be used as a movable wall there by limiting the volume of brood chamber which will help the bees to maintain the hive temperature and to protect them from enemies.
- It is useful in managing small colonies.
- It is a device which allows the bees to go through a self closing exit. eg. Spring bee escape or wire gauze cone.
- A board having one way passage in the centre can also bemused.
- It is kept in between honey super and brood chamber. It is used for clearing the bees in super for extracting honey.
- It is made up of perforated zinc sheet. The slots are large enough to allow the workers to pass through but too narrow for the queen.
- A wire grid/dividing grid with parallel wire mounts can also be used as a queen excluder. It is inserted in between the super and brood chamber in a multistory hive.
- Vertical models can be placed between the brood frames in single storey hive.
- It is a rectangular box with one side open. The other side is fitted with queen excluder sheet. At the bottom of the box there is a space for movement of worker bees.
- There are two hollow cones at the bottom wall of the box. This device is used at the entrance to reduce the drone population inside the hive.
- It is a piece of queen excluder sheet. It is fitted on the slot of entrance gate. It confines the queen inside the hive. It is useful to prevent swarming and absconding.
- It also prevents the entry of bee enemies like wasps into the hive.
- It is a cage made up of wire guaze. It is useful for queen introduction.
- It is a cone shaped structure made of a piece of wire wound spirally. It fits around a queen cell.
- It is used to protect the pen cell, given from a queen right to a queen less colony until its acceptance by bees.
- It is a rectangular box used to trap and carry the swarm. It is fixed near the hive entrance with one (or) two combs inside during the swarming period.
- This box traps and retains the queen only. But the swarm coming out from the hive re-enter the hive and settles on the comb, since the queen is trapped.
- Pollen trapping screen inside this trap scrapes pellets from the legs of the returning foragers. It is set at the hive entrance. The collected pollen pellets fall into a drawer type of receiving tray.
- It can be hung along with the frames. A wooden strip (or) cut bits of leaves kept inside serve as float which prevents the drowning of bees in the sugar syrup.
- It is a piece of flattened iron with flattened down edge at one end. It is useful to separate hive parts and frames glued together with propolis.
- It is also useful in scrapping excess propolis or wax and superfluous combs (or) wax from various parts of the hive.
(i) Bee veil
- It is worn over face for protection against, stings. It should be made up of black nylon netting screen (12-mesh).
- Screen wire (or) fabric are the preferred materials. Veils should be made to fit snugly around the hat (or) to cover the head and to fit tightly to the shoulder leaving enough space between veil and face.
- White overalls are occasionally worn. Light coloured cotton materials are preferable since they are cooler and create less risk for an antagonizing bees.
- Bee gloves are made of tightly-knit cloth (or) soft leather. They cover the fore arms.
- A pair of gum boots will protect the ankles and prevent bees from climbing up under trousers. Gloves are useful for the beginners to develop confidence in handling bees. But handlings of frames will be cumbersome if gloves are worn.
- A soft camel-hair brush is used to brush the bees off the honey comb before it is taken for extraction.
- The smoker is used to calm bees and drive away bees from super. It consists of a metal fire pot with a funnel shaped cover and a bellow.
- A smoke releasing fuel (wood shavings, old rag) is burnt in the fire pot. Air is injected into the pot by operating the bellow and the smoke is directed to the desired spot.
- Single (or) double edged steel knife is used for removing wax cappings from the honey comb.
- It consists of a cylindrical drum.
- A rack is fixed inside the drum to hold the super frames. The rack is rotated by a set of gear wheels.
- The decapped honey frames are kept in the slots of the rack. The rack is rotated by operating the handle.
- Honey flung out from the combs by centrifugal force.
- The extracted honey comes out through the spout present at the bottom of the container.
- The honey comb is not damaged. So it can be reused. By using the extractor, pure honey can be obtained.