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Author Topic: Polystyrene Hives  (Read 318 times)

Offline The15thMember

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Polystyrene Hives
« on: November 22, 2021, 02:15:43 pm »
I mentioned this on another thread a while back, but I decided to start a new one just for this purpose to see what everyone's experiences are.  I'm thinking about trying out a poly hive or two.  I have trouble in my climate with wooden equipment molding and rotting, and I'm curious to see if the polystyrene will hold up better over time.  On top of that the price of wood is so high right now, the polystyrene isn't really any more expensive.  Those who use poly hives or have in the past, what have your experiences with them been?  What brands do you like and dislike?  In what ways is working with them different from wood hives?   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline NigelP

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2021, 02:40:56 pm »
All I use are poly hives from Lyson. Lots of varied opinions about them.
You could write a series of columns of pros and cons....in my opinion mostly pros.
My thoughts are that any insects that need to regulate the temperature  inside their "home" need all the help they can get to maintain it.

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2021, 04:34:22 pm »
We have used Paradise poly hives (100) for about 10 years. Mostly positive though they need steel QX rather than the plastic.
Had them in hot summer, full sun and no issues. Bees winter well though we don't have very low temps.
We run 2 to a pallet.
Only main negative is the use of a strapping system the lock together, get twisted, trip over them.
Wax moth bore straight through them.
As migratory BK the light weight makes the load 300kg lighter than wood.

Offline Brian MCquilkin

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2021, 01:20:40 pm »
Very interested in this subject, after insulating 85 colonies with 2" HD ridged foam board and then wrapping them with tar paper. I have decided that is just way too much work. I know a beekeeper here in Wisconsin runs a large number of colonies year-round in poly hives and has great results with them.
Despite my efforts the bees are doing great

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2021, 03:14:40 pm »
This is interesting, some very good comments and opinions made. I look forward to hearing more, both the positive and the negative.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2021, 05:01:23 pm »
Thanks for the replies everyone!

All I use are poly hives from Lyson. Lots of varied opinions about them.
You could write a series of columns of pros and cons....in my opinion mostly pros.
My thoughts are that any insects that need to regulate the temperature  inside their "home" need all the help they can get to maintain it.
Well what are they?  I'd like to hear more.

We have used Paradise poly hives (100) for about 10 years. Mostly positive though they need steel QX rather than the plastic.
Had them in hot summer, full sun and no issues. Bees winter well though we don't have very low temps.
We run 2 to a pallet.
Only main negative is the use of a strapping system the lock together, get twisted, trip over them.
Wax moth bore straight through them.
As migratory BK the light weight makes the load 300kg lighter than wood.
This could be a huge issue for me.  I have wax moth trouble pretty regularly and I've had them damage my woodenware.  I even had one of those suckers bore a hole right through a frame once!  How do you deal with the damage?   

I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2021, 12:23:08 am »
Only had 1 wax moth issue, but it did take a while with the caulking gun and silicone plugging the holes.
Wouldn't be enough of an issue not to use them as the insulation benefits out way it

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2021, 01:31:30 am »
OldBeavo what are the average highs and lows as far is temperature is concerned in your beekeeping round about? 
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline NigelP

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2021, 10:29:22 am »
Thanks for the replies everyone!

All I use are poly hives from Lyson. Lots of varied opinions about them.
You could write a series of columns of pros and cons....in my opinion mostly pros.
My thoughts are that any insects that need to regulate the temperature  inside their "home" need all the help they can get to maintain it.
Well what are they?  I'd like to hear more.


Well you did ask :rolleyes:
Pros and cons?.a big one that has had a lot of debate (heated at times) in the UK.
I think whether poly hives give you an advantage or are beneficial to the bees will depend a bit on your climate. Perhaps fewer advantages in warmer climates and more advantages in cooler climates
Logically, to me at least, any insect that needs to regulate their internal cavity temperature will benefit from any help they can get in stopping heat loss. That's not to say that wood is bad but poly is more thermally efficient.
This is certainly noticeable in over-wintering where bees will survive in either wood or poly but consume far less stores over the same period in a poly hive i.e they need less energy to survive the same conditions.
Where I see a difference is in the spring built up. Our springs can be quite variable and often we can have a couple of abnormal cold months and here I notice it has little effect on the bees progression in poly hives. A comparison of numbers of brood frames between wood and poly has shown that usually there are 2 or more frames of brood in poly.  Note I say usually with bees there are always exceptions! But usually this means more bees when our spring/early summer nectar flows start. It's no co-incidence that one of the largest commercial beekeepers in the UK is moving over to poly hives as he estimates his honey yields are up by approx 1/3 compared to his bees in the same apiaries in wooden hives.
Sorry this beginning to look like a long diatribes, so I'll try and cut it short.
They are cheaper than wood (approx 50% cheaper in the UK). Of course it's easy to make your own wooden hives rather than make your own moulded poly ones.
When you drop a poly box it cracks open along a defined seam and is easily repaired, whereas drop a wooden box it tends to split and usually become irreparable. Although not sure dropping  of boxes would be a good reason for using poly.  :grin:
Poly rarely distorts over time, some of my oldest poly hives are 15+ years and still going strong.
Also much lighter than wood, a concern as I age?..

One disadvantage of the Lyson poly hives is they have hard plastic edges which gives them longevity but can create a problem with water ingress if the two touching surfaces are not cleaned, You can get little ridges of propolis etc that act as small gaps  between the two edges allowing water into the hive in very rainy conditions. Easily solved by scraping clean both edges or coating the edges with a little Vaseline (grease).

Many of the pro-wooden hive proponents in the UK say they see no benefits in poly hives vs their wooden hives. Which, for many UK beekeepers, is probably true. But I think the main reason they see no difference is because there is a stubbornness within the UK beekeeping community that insists on keeping local mongrel bees as opposed to strains that have been bred for fecund queens and honey production. If you put scrub cattle on grade A grazing you still have scrub cattle at the end on the day?..put a pedigree on good grazing and you would be amazed.


 

« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 11:34:30 am by NigelP »

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2021, 11:43:51 am »
Only had 1 wax moth issue, but it did take a while with the caulking gun and silicone plugging the holes.
Wouldn't be enough of an issue not to use them as the insulation benefits out way it

Good to know, that will be something to keep in mind for me if I go this route. 

Well you did ask :rolleyes:
Pros and cons?.a big one that has had a lot of debate (heated at times) in the UK.
I think whether poly hives give you an advantage or are beneficial to the bees will depend a bit on your climate. Perhaps fewer advantages in warmer climates and more advantages in cooler climates
Logically, to me at least, any insect that needs to regulate their internal cavity temperature will benefit from any help they can get in stopping heat loss. That's not to say that wood is bad but poly is more thermally efficient.
This is certainly noticeable in over-wintering where bees will survive in either wood or poly but consume far less stores over the same period in a poly hive i.e they need less energy to survive the same conditions.
Where I see a difference is in the spring built up. Our springs can be quite variable and often we can have a couple of abnormal cold months and here I notice it has little effect on the bees progression in poly hives. A comparison of numbers of brood frames between wood and poly has shown that usually there are 2 or more frames of brood in poly.  Note I say usually with bees there are always exceptions! But usually this means more bees when our spring/early summer nectar flows start. It's no co-incidence that one of the largest commercial beekeepers in the UK is moving over to poly hives as he estimates his honey yields are up by approx 1/3 compared to his bees in the same apiaries in wooden hives.
Sorry this beginning to look like a long diatribes, so I'll try and cut it short.
They are cheaper than wood (approx 50% cheaper in the UK). Of course it's easy to make your own wooden hives rather than make your own moulded poly ones.
When you drop a poly box it cracks open along a defined seam and is easily repaired, whereas drop a wooden box it tends to split and usually become irreparable. Although not sure dropping  of boxes would be a good reason for using poly.  :grin:
Poly rarely distorts over time, some of my oldest poly hives are 15+ years and still going strong.
Also much lighter than wood, a concern as I age?..

One disadvantage of the Lyson poly hives is they have hard plastic edges which gives them longevity but can create a problem with water ingress if the two touching surfaces are not cleaned, You can get little ridges of propolis etc that act as small gaps  between the two edges allowing water into the hive in very rainy conditions. Easily solved by scraping clean both edges or coating the edges with a little Vaseline (grease).

Many of the pro-wooden hive proponents in the UK say they see no benefits in poly hives vs their wooden hives. Which, for many UK beekeepers, is probably true. But I think the main reason they see no difference is because there is a stubbornness within the UK beekeeping community that insists on keeping local mongrel bees as opposed to strains that have been bred for fecund queens and honey production. If you put scrub cattle on grade A grazing you still have scrub cattle at the end on the day?..put a pedigree on good grazing and you would be amazed.

Thank you very much!  This is the kind of in depth information I was looking for.  No need to cut anything short with me!  :grin:  Our winter temperatures can be quite variable as well, and obviously a reduction in stores used is always a big plus.  I am happy to hear that you haven't had issues with mold, as I know yours can be a rainy climate, and the mold/rot area is primarily where I'm looking to improve on the wood.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline NigelP

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2021, 01:45:10 pm »
Probably not bear proof though!
Mould has never been  a problem with them, with me at least. Although worth noting I run open mesh floors during the summer and almost closed (solid) floors during winter. The only keepers I know who have had issues with condensation have kept very small colonies in too large a space.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2021, 02:14:14 pm »
Probably not bear proof though!
Mould has never been  a problem with them, with me at least. Although worth noting I run open mesh floors during the summer and almost closed (solid) floors during winter. The only keepers I know who have had issues with condensation have kept very small colonies in too large a space.
Ha!  Probably not!  I've never had issues with bears, although there are a lot in my area.  Having large dogs on the property seems to be enough to deter them. 

I was doing some more looking at different brands this morning, and it seems only Lyson has 8 frame equipment, which is all I run.  I know it wouldn't be interchangeable necessarily, but at least I'd have a chance of equipment working together if I had some sort of emergency.  The Lyson is a little more pricey than some of the other brands, so I'm kind of in debate.  If I get more longevity out of the hives then it's probably worth it, but I'm nervous about getting equipment that isn't interchangeable with what I already have. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline NigelP

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2021, 02:51:11 pm »
ency.  The Lyson is a little more pricey than some of the other brands, so I'm kind of in debate.  If I get more longevity out of the hives then it's probably worth it, but I'm nervous about getting equipment that isn't interchangeable with what I already have.

Wise worry.
Depending on how many hives you have worth getting few (more than one) as a trial and it they work for you then change the lot, or go back.
All my poly is compatible with all my olden wooden hive parts which is an advantage. All my smaller 6 frame nucs frames are also compatible with their larger 11 frame poly hives.

Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2021, 05:52:11 pm »
Hi Ben
Our temperature range is winter -6F night time frosts to about 15F as a max winter daytime.
Summer is nights of min 8-10F but can be 15-20F at night. Summer day time is 35-40F with some days topping 46F.
We don't worry about interchanging and run the 100 poly hives in 2 apiaries of 50 each. Commercially interchanging would be a nightmare.
Some large commercial BK, 500-1000 hives say that the extra size of the poly hives restricts the number they can transport on their trucks. Unsure if it is valid but it was the excuse given by a BK for selling 300 poly hives.
Like i stated, we have been running poly for about 10 years and you would have trouble sorting supers on their age for wear and tear.
We do use a quality exterior water based paint, 2 coats, and it is still OK. We would do more maintenance on our wooden boxes than the poly hives.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2021, 06:43:47 pm »
Quote

we have been running poly for about 10 years and you would have trouble sorting supers on their age for wear and tear.

Thanks Oldbeavo, That statement sums up the hardiness of this equipment. Thanks for sharing you professional experience and knowledge! It?s always good hearing from you.

Phillip
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2021, 10:28:56 pm »
I had to try the Paradise Bee Box.  They went together well but I did have to smack some with a wooden block and rubber mallet.  Painting is a bit of a pain and I did paint the insides as recommended.  The feather weight is a plus.  Solid bottom boards are not an option in the US so I cut lauan to cover up the screens.  I also cut up some scrap polycarbonate for overhangs because when it rains water pours over the entrance like a waterfall and bees can't congregate on the outside on hot rainy days.  Yes, bees do beard on insulated hives.  Bees in wooden hives that get early morning sun are active a lot sooner than the poly hives.  It takes longer for them to warm up after cold nights in my area.  I do like the looks of them but Im heavy handed and you do have to be careful because they ding up easy.  I didnt care for the entrance reducers that came with them but it's easy enough to use hardware cloth for mouse guards like wooden hives. With a lip all around the boxes they're not compatible with wooden equipment like shims, feeders, double screen/ cloake boards.  Which is kind of a problem for me since I like to use different equipment for queen rearing and swarm control.  As far as overwintering and honey production go I dont see a significant difference on a small scale, healthy bees do good in both poly and wind blocked wooden hives and I get plenty of below zero weather.  Maybe if I had hundreds of hives, I would see a difference.  I dont dislike the poly and they will last a very long time it's just that Im so used to wooden hives and love rough cut lumber nucs that I prefer wood.
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Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2021, 05:06:52 am »
Yes i agree the entrance reduces or not the best, but alot of BK's take them out for a full opening.
We find the bases with the large screen good, we never block or cover them in Winter.
The base at the entrance rises so that no water gets into the hive. Rain is not an issue.
Painting is as quick as any other method of preserving, we do not paint the inside as the paint is only preventing UV oxidation of the poly.

Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2021, 09:39:16 am »
Yes i agree the entrance reduces or not the best, but alot of BK's take them out for a full opening.
We find the bases with the large screen good, we never block or cover them in Winter.
The base at the entrance rises so that no water gets into the hive. Rain is not an issue.
Painting is as quick as any other method of preserving, we do not paint the inside as the paint is only preventing UV oxidation of the poly.

I just leave the entrance reducers out too.  Not a fan of open screen bottom boards here, between high cold winds and predators I tossed them long ago.  I agree the base entrance doesnt allow water to get into the hive but bees can't congregate on the outside or under a slatted rack when it's raining, especially hives that I artificially boost up.  There isn't enough room and typically it's too hot for all bees to be inside the hive.  The only reason I painted the inside is because Paradise recommends it, some bees will chew up the inside if they aren't painted.
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Offline LawyerRick

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2021, 04:58:44 pm »
I am using Apimaye, Anel & Technosetbee poly hives & wouldn't be without them.  Wooden hives are fine but I've had much better overwintering & honey production with my colonies in polys.  Much cooler in summer; much warmer in winter than wooden hives.

Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Polystyrene Hives
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2021, 07:15:32 pm »
I am using Apimaye, Anel & Technosetbee poly hives & wouldn't be without them.  Wooden hives are fine but I've had much better overwintering & honey production with my colonies in polys.  Much cooler in summer; much warmer in winter than wooden hives.

Well, it certainly helps to be a lawyer if you're going to run Apimaye.  It would cost over $20,000 to replace all my equipment with Apimaye.  Yikes !!  :shocked:
Everyone loves a worker.... until its laying.