Bee Box Care

The BeeBox Hive System for Profitable Beekeeping

 The BeeBox Hive system is the latest EPS-polystyrene hive system from Paradise Honey Ltd. The product is the result of 30 years of beekeeping experience in the biggest beekeeping operation of Scandinavia.

The BeeBox Hive system has been developed and tested in the demanding weather conditions Finnish beekeeping is facing. Arctic winters colder than – 35°C and summer heat of more than 30°C provided us the experience to know bees and beekeepers await from a good bee hive.

All parts of the BeeBox Hive are made of food grade, extra hardened, expanded polystyrene (EPS) with a density over 100 kg/m3. The components are manufactured in an automatic moulding machine. In proper use, the hive parts will last for several decades.

The BeeBox hive system is manufactured for worldwide distribution. The standard measurements are Langstroth and Dadant box sizes used throughout Europe, America and Russia.

The BeeBox Brood Chambers and Supers

In order to save space during transport the boxes are supplied unassembled in four parts. To Assemble the Hive:

Placetheextrahardplasticprofiles,whichformtheframerestsandedge protection, into their grooves in the top and bottom the front and the back pieces.

Thepartsareconnectedtoeachotherbyaninternaltongueandgroovesystem. Place one side on the floor and stick it together with the front and the back piece. Then insert the other side piece into the corresponding ends. The joints can be secured by applying a small amount of high-quality water-resistant glue to the tongues before joining the pieces. Although the joints connect perfectly without any glue, it helps to maximise the structural rigidity of the box.

The Unique Frame Rests and End-Profiles of the BeeBox Hive

The special frame rests increase the strength of the box and protect it from damage caused by the hive tool and minimize problems with the boxes during the tens of years in use. The notches are essential for locking the hive compartments to each other thus preventing them from sliding during transport. As the notch is only 6 mm high, the boxes remain easy to open and tilt for inspection.

BeeBox Hives are normally kept with 10 frames per box. If preferred, the boxes can be used as well with only 8 to 9 frames per box. Optionally the frame rests can be equipped with frame spacers for 8, 9 or 10 frames.

The Special Handles of the BeeBox Hive

All boxes of the BeeBox system are fitted with ergonomically designed handles located both at the sides and at the ends of the boxes. They enable the beekeeper to lift the boxes in a balanced way when placing them on a hive or when removing them during the harvest. During transport the long handles allow for a good grip and an easy lift from a comfortable height in difficult situations.

The Top of the BeeBox Hive

In the normal position the top of the hive closes tightly. It should be used in combination with a plastic sheet placed on the top bars of the combs. The top can be secured against strong winds with a stone or brick weighing about 2 kg. During migration it is secured with a strap.

The top of the BeeBox hive is used in the normal position during spring, fall and winter. At high summer temperatures, or during migration, the top can be turned upside down. In this position the top provides additional ventilation and prevents the hive from overheating. If bees are allowed to exit through the shallow tunnel formed by the reversed hive top the plastic sheet below it is simply drawn back about 10 cm. If bees are not allowed to exit the hive from the top the plastic sheet is replaced by a propolis screen or another bee tight mesh.

We recommend that the top is kept in tunnel position with the plastic sheet pulled back when the daytime temperature is above + 28 °C. If temperatures reach higher than + 32 °C the plastic sheet should be replaced by a screen. At high temperatures the bees should be kept in the shade. In hot climates proper ventilation reduces the bees work for collecting water or ventilating the hive by fanning.

The bottom board of the BeeBox Hive

The 95 mm high bottom board of the BeeBox Hive has scalloped edges and an aluminum screen bottom to maximize ventilation. When fully open the flight entrance is 18 mm high. It is possible to slide a Varroa monitoring board under the screen and close the bottom opening.

The hives are recommended to be kept on pallets above the ground to ensure adequate air movement through the screen bottom at all times.

Generally the screen bottom is kept open. The ventilation through the mesh improves the wintering results. Not even dead bees and other debris can block the air movement during

winter. The hives survive even in situations where the entrance is blocked by ice. During wintering condensed water will run down through the screen bottom.

After the cleansing flight the bees start to rear more brood. At this time it is advantageous to slide the Varroa-monitoring board in place. This prevents any draft in the hive through the screen bottom. Without a cooling draft, bees will expand their brood nest considerably faster. During spring the entrance can be kept reduced to a height of 8 mm. When temperatures reach +20 °C and the bee population has grown big enough to protect their brood from low night temperatures, the Varroa monitoring board can be removed and the entrance enlarged to 18 mm.

During spring the entrance feeders with a volume of 1 or 1,8 liters can be used to feed the colonies. This way the colonies do not have to be opened and individual frames do not have to be handled. Colonies short of feed are just fed with the entrance feeder. Simultaneously they get fresh water, which is vital to them at this time of the year.

Using the BeeBox Hive in Hot Climates at more than 32°C

In hot climates, the hives should not be exposed to continuous sunlight. The hives should be set up in some distance to houses and other objects, which radiate heat and block cooling winds. When the temperature stays permanently over 32°C in the shade, the plastic sheet should be removed from the top of the hive and replaced with a propolis sheet or another bee tight grid. Together with the reversed top, this will cool the hive in the entire top area.

Transporting the BeeBox Hive

We recommend that the hives are prepared for migration on the day before. Note that the number of supers per hive must be in proportion to the strength of the colony. Overheating of the hives is the biggest threat during transport. The plastic sheet should be removed from the top of the hive. It should be replaced with a bee tight screen. The hive top should be reversed into the tunnel position allowing additional ventilation. Close the entrance with a mesh, keep the screen bottom board open and pay attention to adequate air circulation around the hives when they are loaded on the truck. In hot climates the bees may be cooled during transport by spraying water on them. Place the hives the way that the frames are aligned with the cars driving direction.

The Hive Top Feeder for the BeeBox Hive

The hive top feeder can take up to 10 litres of syrup. The bees climb to the feeder from the end. A removable, transparent acrylic cover prevents them from drowning in the syrup. As the bees have access to the whole width of the feeder they can rapidly remove the feed.

The bottom is slightly tilted toward the front allowing them to clear every drop of syrup. The plastic lid can be removed if solid feed is given to the bees. Draw back the plastic sheet on the combs about 10 cm when placing the feeder on the hive that the bees can access the syrup.

On the inside the feeder has a volume indicating mark at 5 litres for precise feeding. The underside is raised by 6 mm. Therefore little burr combs on top of the frames remain unproblematic and no bees are crushed when the feeder is placed on the hive. It leaves as well some space for the bees to move freely under the feeder. This extra space between the feeder and the top bars allows treating the bees with formic acid or thymol from the top of the hive without the need for a special raiser.

Maintenance and care of the BeeBox Hive

The outside surface of the BeeBox Hives should be painted with oil or water based paint to protect them from UV radiation and to ease cleaning. All surfaces of the hive tops, the bottom boards and the feeders should be painted. Painting may be done by brushing, rolling or spraying. Light colours are recommended to be used in hot climates and darker tones in cold climates.

Polystyrene does not rot, wrap or absorb moisture. Therefore the maintenance of the hive is minimal and the first painting will last for tens of years. Parts soiled by bees can be washed gently by hand, or with a steam washer. Careful steam washing will remove almost all pathogens. If the bee colonies have had major problems with bee diseases the boxes can be disinfected by washing them with a 4 % solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The same can be achieved by washing the hive parts with a solution of dishwasher detergent powder. A solution of one tablet in 5 litres of water is of appropriate strength. Virkon S is a disinfectant widely used in Europe. A 2 % solution of this disinfectant will kill all bacteria and spores of bee diseases when sprayed on pre-cleaned hive surfaces. Virkon S is biologically degradable and is not harmful to bees. The active ingredients are among others potassium monopersulfate 50% and organic acids.

Queen Trap System for the BeeBox Hive

The Queen Trap System is designed for the BeeBox Hive series, but fits also other hive types.

Main advantages:

– easy to assemble and use – reduces beekeeping work – increases honey crop

– prevents swarming

When the main honey flow and swarming season starts, the queen is transferred to the lower brood chamber and the Queen Trap System is placed on top of it. It provides an entrance with a landing board for the bees between the two lowermost boxes. A closing board is used to permanently close the entrance in the bottom board.

The queen is trapped in the lowest brood chamber, but the bees can move freely through the trap’s queen excluder to feed her and take care of the brood. The bees will carry nectar and pollen through the new entrance between the boxes and store the honey in the supers located above. Swarming is prevented because the queen cannot leave the hive through the excluder.

If the colony tries to swarm the bees will realize that the queen is not with them and will return to their hive and continue collecting nectar and pollen. When the swarming fever is over and the queen is laying eggs the normal entrance in the bottom board can be opened again. If there is a virgin queen in the brood chamber the opening of the normal entrance in the bottom board enables her to start her mating flights. Two weeks after opening the entrance the young queen will be laying eggs. Sometimes both the old and young queen are living side by side in the hive. The queens that tried to swarm and their daughters should be replaced before the next season to minimize swarming problems in the future.

The entrance created by the Queen Trap System can be easily closed with the closing board, which is normally functioning as landing board. Therefore the hives can easily be migrated with the Queen Trap System in place.

The Queen Trap System is made from food grade plastic. The Queen Trap System consists of four special profiles, two landing/closing boards and a full size queen excluder. First assemble the three profiles to form a U-shape. Then slide the excluder into the profile’s groove from the open side of the U-shaped form. Finally attach the remaining profile to the others forming a rim around the excluder.

The Nuc & Mate Hive

The Nuc & Mate Hive is designed to ease beekeeping and make it more efficient. This nucleus hive can be used to expand your beekeeping operation, to sell bees or as an economical mating hive.

The Nuc & Mate Hive is made of food grade, extra hardened, expanded polystyrene (EPS) with a density over 100 kg/m3. In proper use, the Nuc & Mate Hive will last for several decades.

The bottom board, hive body and top are provided with 6 mm high notch system which locks the parts well into each other. During the design of the Nuc & Mate Hive special attention has been paid to good ventilation, transport and stacking properties.

The Nuc & Mate Hive has a screen bottom board with two 18 mm high entrances on opposite sides. In the middle of the bottom board there is a 7 mm wide groove for the divider board if the hive is used for two separate mating units. The mesh covering the ventilation hole in the bottom board should be secured with two screws. The groove holding the dividing board continues in the end walls as well as in the inside of the hive top. For frame sizes with short top bars (for example DNM) the divider groove can also be provided parallel to the entrance. The bottom board has scalloped edges that allow a good ventilation and grip.

With the Nuc & Mate Hive two queens can be mated within the same box by dividing this six frame hive into two three frame mating units. To be used as a mating hive each three frame compartment should be equipped with a frame with emerging brood, one frame containing food (or a frame feeder) and one foundation frame together with a ripe queen cell or hatched queen. When the queen is laying, the unit can be reused for mating another queen. In fall the divider is removed and the six frame colony is overwintered with a young queen. Until the next season these nuclei will evolve into valuable honey producing hives.

During transport the hive top is secured with a strap. In the apiary the hive tops are kept in place with a stone or brick weighing about 2 kg. In hot climates or during transport the top can be turned upside down to form a tunnel above the frames ensuring additional ventilation while a screen placed on top of the hive prevents the bees from escaping.

The Nuc & Mate Hive is produced to suit the following frame sizes: Dadant Blatt, 1⁄2 Dadant, Dadant USA, Langstroth USA, Langstroth Russia, 3⁄4 Langstroth, Zander, DNM, Portuguese Frame , Belgian Frame, English Standard, Dutch Frame, Norwegian Frame and Swedish Frame.