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Author Topic: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.  (Read 1541 times)

Offline little john

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A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« on: June 18, 2016, 04:26:25 am »
A National-Dadant Beehive. (under a WBC cover)

I've often thought that the WBC Beehive was fundamentally a sound concept, but would have been much better had it been based around standard British National boxes and, with the advantage of modern materials, latter-day builds would (imo) be vastly improved by the WBC lifts being fabricated from GRP or similar.
And so it was that a few years ago I built a WBC-lookalike cover for a National Beehive using uPVC cladding, but it soon became clear that removing lifts prior to splitting brood boxes on each inspection was going to be very time-consuming - so it was never used, and ended-up collecting dust. 

However, having recently decided upon trialling 14"x14" frames to achieve the same volume as a Dadant Beehive, it occurred to me that a WBC cover over a fixed-volume hive might work reasonably well.  And so I finished off the cover by making a base and legs, and this is what has resulted:




Shorter, splayed feet would have looked better, but in view of the expected weight I opted for straight feet instead.

The following pic shows the space available over the main brood box - just enough for a hard crown board and two 5-frame nucs or a standard brood box. Which could be useful as a feeder shim, to hold insulation or for queen rearing.
 



This shows the eleven 14"x14" frames in situ, set by screws at 35mm spacing for now.




And a shot showing the two entrance closures I've made.




And finally a Thermal Divider 'curtain' using Dadant's method of sealing the sides - I've used strips of PVC sheet (from a supermarket 'special offer' banner) wrapped around some soft foam rubber, instead of oilcloth.  Let's hope the bees don't chew it up !   I did try thin-wall PVC hosepipe, but it proved too hard and inflexible. 




So - all that's needed now is to install some bees later-on today (if the weather holds), and there are several suitable colonies on site to choose from ... decisions, decisions.

LJ
« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 12:36:37 pm by little john »
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Offline gww

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2016, 10:41:09 am »
Little john
Looks pretty fancy to me, even the legs.
gww

Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2016, 01:28:47 pm »
Sorry about the screw-up on the 4th photograph - the link wasn't transferred correctly ... computers !

Thanks for the positive - I wouldn't have made that cover especially for this trial - but seeing as I'd already made it, and it wasn't being used ...  A bit OTT perhaps, but hell, why not ?

This the genuine article - normally painted white:




Very cute looking hives - I didn't capture the design too well with uPVC - still it'll keep the rain off.  Talking of rain - we're looking at an all-time record for June rainfall this year.  It didn't stop raining until 4 pm today, so I'll try installing bees again tomorrow.

LJ
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Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2016, 12:05:11 pm »
For anyone who might be following this ...

After a few false starts due to British weather, I managed to get a colony installed today without any difficulty, despite the sky darkening-up in mid-transfer.  Now comes the job of getting the bees off the 9" frames and onto the 14" frames, after drawing comb in them of course.
I'll leave the girls for a couple of days to settle, then place the 9" brood combs in nuc boxes over a custom Q/X to clear - I'll be using a plywood Q/X I made earlier today as per Dave Cushman's website.  Never used one of these before ... should be fun finding out if it works (or not).
LJ
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Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2016, 09:18:36 am »
So today I placed all but three of the 9" brood combs on the other side of this plywood Q/X in order to clear and thus coerce the girls into drawing out some of the 14" frames for the queen to lay in.   I've never used such a Q/X before - it'll be interesting to see if it works.




Two major disruptions in two days, and they didn't seem at all bothered.  Lovely bees, and very prolific - the queen is first generation from a (believed to be) Carnie-Buckfast swarm which flew into the apiary uninvited a good while back.   A very lucky occurrence.

LJ


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Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2016, 04:59:30 am »
For anyone who might be following progress of this ...

I've placed the National-Dadant experimental hive alongside my queen rearing hives.  The roof has now been attached to the top lift, so that now only one item needs to be lifted off to gain access to the Crown Board (inner cover), in the same way as any other telescopic roof:




An inspection yesterday showed the three 14" frames well-drawn, and so three more were swapped with the existing 9" frames.  With six extra-deep frames now in place in front of a thermal curtain, even with just those the colony should be ok for winter - if they should draw any more it'll be a bonus.



LJ
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Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2016, 11:27:28 am »
The weather was kind enough to let me get into the 'National-Dadant' hive this afternoon, and so here's a quick update as to progress.

The girls have had six bare 14" frames to draw out - this is a very typical example of 5 of them.  If shown the others, you'd be pushed to tell the difference between them - they're almost identical.  It'll be interesting to see what happens to the comb depths in the coming months.




The sixth is a hoot !  Rather than draw comb vertically downwards (like it says in The Book), the girls have decided to start from each of the dividers, and work inwards instead - that comb looks for all the world like an exercise in bridge construction.  Lateral thinking bees - whatever next ...




All-in-all I don't think that's bad going for 3 weeks, I've chequer-boarded a few more frames into the array, replacing the 9", to encourage them to finish the job.  So far, so good.

LJ
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Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2016, 01:43:23 pm »
That sixth frame just shows bees are unpredictable.  Good looking hive and nicely drawn (five) frames.
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Offline little john

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Re: A National-Dadant Beehive: using 14x14 frames.
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2017, 05:16:11 am »
So - a year has now elapsed since I started this experiment - time for an update.

During the 2016 season, all combs were drawn-out to around 12" in depth, and I wondered whether that was some kind of natural 'limit' - but no, it was just all they needed at that particular moment in time, and as soon as the weather became warmer this year, they finished the drawing-out of those extra-deep combs.

The following is a reply I've just posted on another thread, which I think describes rather well the situation I'm now faced with - which is success, but sadly success I can't employ.


FWIW, I've been experimenting with extra-deep frames, and one colony in particular is on eleven 14"x14" frames, which together provide the same comb area as the Modified Dadant which (afaik) is the largest volume of all the 'standard' hives.

'Successful' doesn't adequately describe the situation which now exists. Last week I struggled to do an inspection, and at first thought that the frames were stuck fast - but they weren't, they were just too bl##dy heavy to lift with only fingertips. Each frame has a good 3"-4" of capped honey at it's (thickened) top, with maybe half of the brood area lower down being back-filled with nectar. I can only guess at their weights - I'd say somewhere around 25lbs each at the moment, and getting heavier by the day. Clearly with such large volume hives there is a requirement to employ supers for honey storage.

From a survival perspective, this situation is brilliant of course - as such a colony clearly needs no assistance from me - but although hugely successful in that regard, it doesn't fit easily into the life of this apiary which is directed towards nuc and queen production, and not honey.  And so - very reluctantly - I'll be terminating the experiment at the end of this season, and reverting to the use of larger numbers of slightly smaller (14"x12") combs, in Long Hives housing 17-20 frames.
LJ
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