Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Inc.

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Busby's Buzz

Welcome to Busby’s Buzz. Adirana Busby, one of our Oregon Beekeepers, is here to share some knowledge and insight that she has gathers over many years of beekeeping.

One of the most common questions we receive from our customers is “What hive set-up is right for me?” It can be hard to decide which hive set up is right for you. With so many different size options available it can make it difficult to make a decision on your own. Here are some suggestions based on my past experience:

Many beekeepers go with a 10-Frame set up. It is considered the most traditional hive setup. I personally went with this option a little over 4 years ago and have so much equipment it’s sometimes hard to convince myself to switch to 8 frame. A 10-Frame set up doesn’t offer any significant benefit other than it holds 2 more frames than an 8-frame hive. Those two additional frames allow each box to hold more, but when you get further into the season the boxes can become heavy so you will need to have great upper body strength or a partner or team to help lift the boxes when they become full. A deep hive body full of brood can average between 50-60 lbs while honey supers can reach up to 80 lbs. each. Overall the 10 frame setup is a good option for beekeepers who are looking for more use per box and are willing to work with the occasional heft.

Now, on to the most popular setup: the 8-Frame English Garden hive. This is one of our top selling setups and for good reason. The English Garden comes standard with medium boxes (6 1/4 frames), which are ideal for the solo beekeeper because they are much lighter to maneuver then deep boxes (9 1/8 frames), sometimes up to 30 pounds lighter. That alone is a huge benefit of an 8-Frame set up. Even the deep 8-Frame boxes can be up to 20 pounds lighter. Being smaller in size not only helps with weight but also closely resembles the narrow size of a tree cavity, making it a little more natural size for the bees to heat and cool. While the majority of our 8-Frame hives are made of pine, our English Garden hives are made of cypress and contain an A-frame top. Both of these additions not only provide a strong, stable hive setup, but also very aesthetically pleasing. The 8 frame offers the most benefits to the bees and the solo beekeeper.

For the more experienced beekeepers, a new option that has risen in the past few years is the Long Hive. This style of hive offers the flexibility of using standard 10 frame components with a top bar style set up. This can allow you to maintain two colonies side by side in the same hive. The long hive also allows for a horizontal hive inspection where you get to look at both brood chambers at one time. I feel this gives you an advantage since you are able to look at the brood pattern as a whole without disturbing the combs. It’s the size of two 10-Frames hives side by side so it will be twice the weight of a 10-Frame so two people are still needed to move the hive, but you have the added assurance of not tipping the stack of boxes while in transport. Overall this is a great option mainly due to the horizontal hive inspection but we don't recommend this hive for a first year beekeeper.

Overall, I see the 8-Frame as the friendliest option for the solo beekeeper. All of the options we carry have their own individual benefits. So to recap the options we have the 10-Frame which is the least solo friendly, the long hive which has the horizontal hive inspection, and the 8-Frame that is the easiest to maneuver alone. All in all choosing the right hive setup can 'bee' difficult without all the facts. These are not all the facts but hopefully they can help you to make the right choice for your beeyard.