By: Allen Schwartz
The Best Of A Langstroth and A Slovenian Hive Means No Lifting!
An article titled “No Lifting” in the June edition of Bee Culture Magazine got my attention. At 79 years of age it seems the hive boxes get a little heavier every year. The article author, Brian Drebber, described a Slovenian bee hive which houses the bee frames in a cabinet type enclosure where the frames are removed by sliding out the hive back horizontally. The frames are supported on the bottom by three metal rods. The heaviest lifting is for a frame of honey. The Slovenian hive has only two chambers, a brood chamber and a honey chamber. Each can be inspected without disturbing the other by removing an internal screen door for that chamber. The no lifting and easy inspection are both significant benefits of the Slovenian hive. However it does not have separate supers or Langstroth frames which fit most U. S. extractors. I believed a hive could be built which provided the best features of both the Slovenian and Langstroth hives, hence a hybrid hive.
I wanted a hive that was compatible with my other four hives. I use the eight frame boxes with 9 5/8 inch frames in the brood area and 7 5/8 inch frames in the supers. I also wanted to use the same screened bottom board, top feeder and inner cover (with minor modifications). All these components are fourteen inches wide. So I set the inside cabinet dimension to 14 ¼ inch. This extra width allowed for nine frames in each compartment. To accommodate the inner doors the hive depth was increased but limited to 24 inches so the two side panels could be made from one sheet of plywood.
My hive has two brood/honey compartments and two super compartments, separated by a queen excluder. Each compartment has a removable screen door. The top feeder and inner cover can be placed in any compartment. A screen has been added to the inner cover to control what part of the hive the bees have access to. The inner cover will normally be moved up as the hive expands.
Nearly all Slovenian hives are located in a building or trailer with the hive front protuding through the wall. I chose a standalone hive as my hives are located in two 8 foot by 10 foot bee cages with a roof and two solid walls. The other walls are hog wire. This enclosure provides protection from rain, snow, wind, bears, and skunks.
The Slovenian hives provide a frame spacer at the hive front. I included this feature in the hybrid hive. I also provided a screened vent at the top of the back which can be adjusted or closed based on the outside temperature. With this vent open, great hot weather ventilation will be provided through the screened doors. I also provided an adjustable second entry opening into the super area on the hive front.
My hives are located near Malo Washington where winter lows of 15 to 20 degrees below zero are not uncommon. To protect the bees from these temperatures I designed insulation inserts to cover the screened doors. Also I made an insulation insert which can be placed over the inner cover. I provided a ½ inch hole in this insert to allow some winter circulation. If condensation occurs, it should be in the cooler top of the hive. If this condensation causes water drops to fall, they will fall on the insulation insert, not the bees.
With the hive dimensions being larger than the standard eight frame Langstroth hive, some modification was required for the screened bottom board, the inner cover and the top feeder. A filler piece of plywood was used to fill the extra depth where the queen excluder is inserted.
An extra five inches was added to the screened bottom board. An extra two inches was added to the top feeder and bottom plates were added to match the metal support rods.
The next step will to install a bee package or nuc in his hive next spring. If the bees and I like it as much as I expect, I will convert some or all of my other hives to this configuration.