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A short history of the Valkyrie long hive

What should you do when something comes between you and your honey bees? Perhaps something like a walker or wheelchair? Well, if you are creative and innovative, you might discover the perfect solution — one that works for you and pleases your bees.

This article first appeared in American Bee Journal, Volume 159 No 8, August 2019, pp. 909-913.

Master beekeeper Naomi Price of Prineville, Oregon did exactly that. Living with paraplegia, Naomi knew she wanted a hive that would meet the needs of her bees as well as a few of her own. Simply put, she wanted the freedom to tend her bees without assistance from others. “Accessibility is all about attitude,” she said.

Starting with a vision

Armed with spunky determination, Naomi set out to make her beekeeping dream a reality. Having spent years performing accessibility site surveys for various entities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Oregon Structural Specialty Code, she was the perfect person for the job. She understood that small things make a big difference. “Just as a 3/8-inch space can be empowering to a honey bee, a ¼-inch space can be equally empowering to me,” she explained.

To start, Naomi put aside the codes and regulations and began to investigate the honey bees’ housing requirements. She studied foraging, brood rearing, food storage, communication, ventilation, winter clustering, pests, and even her local weather patterns. After that, she looked at the history of hive design, taking careful note of what worked and what didn’t. Finally, she factored in her own beekeeping experience, including the special features she needed for successful and enjoyable beekeeping.

Finding a builder

Richard Nichols, a Prineville resident, built the prototype long hives. A skilled woodworker with a passion for beekeeping, Richard was able to incorporate Naomi’s vision within the practical limitations of building with wood. The finished product exceeded all expectations and many of the original hives are still in use.

Valhalla features

The first rendition of her hive design — christened the Valhalla — was a variation on the Langstroth long hive made popular by Georges de Layens in his book, Keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives. Basically, a long hive is a horizontal hive that uses standard Langstroth frames. Instead of using supers that stack on top of the brood box, the bee colony expands horizontally, much like the bees in a top-bar hive.

But the similarity stopped there because Naomi needed to incorporate special features which would allow for the ease of access she needed. She wanted a system that didn’t require extra tools and equipment, and one that would be winter-ready without lifting, carting, and storing hive components.

New comb: Honey bees have started building a new comb on this foundationless frame.
New comb: Honey bees have started building a new comb on this foundationless frame. All photos © Rusty Burlew.

Many design considerations were incorporated into the prototype hives, including the following:

Frames. The Valhalla hive uses 24 deep Langstroth frames. Naomi selected the number of frames based on the nectar flow near her central Oregon home and the colony’s winter clustering needs. Some of the frames provide space for honey storage that would normally go in a super.

By using Langstroth frames, Naomi could easily exchange equipment between her long hives and Langstroth hives. In addition, four-sided frames can be rested on the ground or other hard surface without damaging combs, a feature missing in top-bar hives. But most importantly, a standard nucleus colony can be inserted directly into a Valhalla hive — another feature that was impossible with most top-bar systems.

Canvas Frame Cover. A heavy canvas cloth placed directly on the top bars keeps the bees from building burr comb above the frames. When Naomi is working the bees, the canvas can be gently folded back from one side or the other, keeping the rest of the bees calm and in the dark. The workers propolize the cloth, thereby adding an antibacterial barrier just above the brood nest.

Canvas cover: A canvas cover placed directly over the top bars keeps the bees calm during inspections. In addition, the propolis layer promotes colony health.

Hive Box. Having a low profile, the long hive is stable in the face of wind and predators such as raccoons, so it doesn’t require the inconvenience of a tie-down. And since there are no supers to lift, hive inspections are a snap.

Hinged Roof. The roof is hinged on the front side so the beekeeper can easily work the bees from the back. A side latch holds the roof open, even in moderate wind. In the open position, the lid protects the brood nest from both sun and wind.

Hinged lid: The heavy duty hinges make the hive easy to open. Inside the lid is a frame support that can also be used for tools. On the lower left of the hive is a covered inspection window.
Hinged lid: The heavy duty hinges make the hive easy to open. Inside the lid is a frame support that can also be used for tools. On the lower left of the hive is a covered inspection window.

Slatted Rack. A built-in slatted rack extends the entire length of the hive, offering foragers a place to cluster when summer temperatures rise. Below the slatted rack are two side-by-side pull-out inspection drawers that can be used for varroa counts and debris collection.

Slatted rack: The built-in slatted rack helps regulate temperature by giving the workers a place to congregate in hot weather.
Slatted rack: The built-in slatted rack helps regulate temperature by giving the workers a place to congregate in hot weather.

Entrance. A single bee entrance is in the lower right corner of the hive. It measure 3/8-inches high by 3-inches long and has a sliding door to adjust the size of the opening or close it completely. The small size and adjustable nature means it can double as a mouse guard during those times when rodents are likely to enter.

The entrance has no landing board. Naomi notes that, without a landing area, honey bees experience fewer run-ins with nest mates and fewer intruders. In addition, the entrance is easier to defend since there is no convenient staging area for evil-doers. “I have observed the returning foragers fly into their hive with amazing accuracy,” she says.

Viewing Window. The hive is equipped with a Plexiglas viewing window with a hinged shutter that allows a quick peek into the brood chamber without opening the lid.

Inspections are easy

Inspections are for more efficient when you don’t have to remove supers before getting to the brood box. In addition, inspections in the Valhalla are far less upsetting to the colony. Naomi says, “With no boxes to move, fewer bees are injured, which means the bees are less defensive.”

By folding back only part of the canvas cloth at a time, the bees are disturbed even less. Naomi notes that by leaving the canvas in contact with the frames most of the time, you can eliminate the need for a smoker — an important consideration when your movements and ability to handle multiple pieces of equipment are already constrained.

In cooler temperatures, the cloth also keeps the colony warmer during inspections by preventing rapid heat loss. And in the fall, the cover keeps robbers at bay while the lid is open.

The side-by-side pull-out boards make it easy to check for mites and other debris, and since one board is beneath the brood and one beneath the honey, you can get a clear picture of what is going on in different parts of the hive.

Varroa drawers: The varroa drawers and screens are interchangeable and easy to clean.
Varroa drawers: The varroa drawers and screens are interchangeable and easy to clean.

The Valhalla evolves

As word of the Valhalla spread, interest soared. Many beekeepers wanted a Valhalla hive — not just those with a disability, but folks who didn’t want to lift heavy boxes or reach high overhead, as well as those who envisioned a better life for their bees. Before long, Richard Nichols had over 30 hives throughout central Oregon with more orders on the way.

But life happens and Richard didn’t want to go into production, so Naomi and her husband, Larry, decided they needed to find an alternative builder. Plus, after a few years working with the Valhalla, Naomi was ready to tweak the design.

Ultimately they turned to Vivien and Bruce Hight of The Right Hand LLP in Redmond, Oregon to incorporate the changes and ramp up production. Bruce, known as “The Beekeeper’s Carpenter,” is a woodworking craftsman and Vivien is responsible for the business end of their enterprise. When I toured their workshop, Bruce was experimenting with alternative roof designs and Vivien was learning about shipping practices, packaging, bookkeeping, web management, and beekeeping. Truly, they were as busy as the bees themselves.

Next, the Valkyrie

Vivien named the new hive “Valkyrie” after figures in Norse legend. She explained, “In the glorious halls of Valhalla, slain Norse warriors were transported by the Valkyries to enjoy the thrill of never-ending battle. While Odin ever-awaited new arrivals, it was the Valkyries who remained vigilant and watchful, presiding over Earth’s battlefields to choose who would be taken aloft.” In other words, “The Valkyrie long hive sprung from a faithful constant (the Valhalla) to embrace the evolving knowledge of bee biology.” So, now you know.

The current Valkyrie incorporates a long list of improvements and several options.

A roof of many colors

The roof was changed to a gabled design, providing space for insulating materials to be placed above the colony. The roof is covered in a lightweight, powder-coated aluminum sheet that is available in six standard colors or can be special-ordered in a rainbow of other shades. For convenience, beekeepers can use dry-erase markers to write inspection notes directly on the lid, which can be easily wiped clean.

Improved hinges

The standard hinges are durable and long-lasting steel, strong enough to withstand wind gusts while the hive is open. Opening the lid on a Valkyrie with the current hinges requires a force of approximately twelve pounds.

Interior frame rest

The inside of the gabled lid contains a frame rest. For easy inspection, you can pull out the first frame and place it in the frame rest, then continue your inspection by sliding each frame into the empty space. The frame rest area can also be used to hold hive tools and the canvas inspection cloth that comes with each hive.

Shed roof

A shed roof was added over the bee entrance to keep rain from sheeting down on the bees and to provide them with a small amount of shade.

Bee entrance: The entrance has a shed-style roof and an adjustable sliding door.
Bee entrance: The entrance has a shed-style roof and an adjustable sliding door.

Hive capacity

Like the Valhalla, the Valkyrie holds 24 standard Langstroth deep frames, and a built-in slatted rack with improved spacing on the ends. The varroa drawers and the two screens above them are now reversible, so you don’t have to remember which one goes where. The screens are kept in place with an automatic locking mechanism, and the drawers are made of white PVC.

A feeder can be placed inside the hive by removing a few of the frames, so Boardman-style and hive-top feeders are not necessary. Because internal feeders are less likely to draw robbing bees and marauding wasps, fall inspections are easier for both bees and humans.

Optional extras

Second Window. Although one window is included as standard equipment, a second window — also with a closable shutter — can be installed to reveal the honey-storage area.

Triple-Layer Blankets. A triple-layered pad made from alpaca wool can be placed above the canvas cloth for year-round insulation and humidity regulation.

Wool blanket: Naomi recommends a wool blanket for year-round use. Top insulation protects the colony from temperature extremes in both summer and winter.
Wool blanket: Naomi recommends a wool blanket for year-round use. Top insulation protects the colony from temperature extremes in both summer and winter.

Insulated Hive Stand: The custom-made hive stand is designed to keep the top of the hive body (not including the gabled roof) 30 inches from ground level. This works well for most wheelchairs and most adults. However, the stand can be custom-ordered four inches higher, if needed. The stand includes a sheet of rigid insulation that protects the colony from icy-cold or super-hot ground temperatures year round.

Below this hive you can see the sheet of rigid insulation that protects the colony from extremely hot or cold ground.
Insulated Hive Stand: Below this hive you can see the sheet of rigid insulation that protects the colony from extremely hot or cold ground.

Blocker Board: A blocker board (or follower board) is a management tool that allows you to limit the size of the brood nest until each successive frame is full. Once the frames are full, you can move the board over and add another frame, keeping the brood nest compact.

The Valkyrie in practice

Many standard beekeeping practices can be tweaked to suit the Valkyrie hive. Naomi studied ideas used in Langstroths, top-bar hives, standard long hives, and even Warré hives to see what would work with her own vision of beekeeping. She has a few favorites that are worth considering.

Installation of bees

As I mentioned earlier, a stand nucleus hive can be installed directly into the Valkyrie. However, when installing a package, Naomi recommends the “walk in” installation.

For a walk-in, place a ramp from the ground up to the hive entrance. Over the ramp, drape a large sheet, such that it extends to the ground on both sides of the ramp. Attach the queen cage inside the hive, then dump the bees on the sheet. The bees will walk up the sheet into the hive.

The advantage of this method is that ill or diseased bees often walk off to die rather than joining the march, an “altruistic” separation that helps keep the colony healthy. In addition, any free-roaming parasites such as hive beetles are left on the sheet. A quick dusting of powdered sugar may leave behind a few varroa mites as well.

New beekeeper: First-year beekeeper Carol Reinhard prepares to install a package of bees into a Valkyrie long hive.
New beekeeper: First-year beekeeper Carol Reinhard prepares to install a package of bees into a Valkyrie long hive.

A convenient sugar feeder

Many types of internal feeder can be used in the Valkyrie, but when winter feeding is necessary, Naomi’s favorite is the SockerMat. Swedish for “sugar food,” the SockerMat is simply a mixture of sugar and water kneaded into a dough and pressed into a deep Langstroth frame.

The frame can be constructed with 1/8-inch hardware cloth (Naomi’s favorite) or with plastic foundation. For the wire version, cut the wire so it extends to the outside perimeter of a standard deep frame. Next, lay the wire on a flat surface and cut two passageways, one in the upper left and one in the upper right corners. These openings or “hiking trails” should be cut so that once the wire is attached to the frame, the open space is about 3/4-inch on each side. Once cut, attach the wire to the frame with staples or thumb tacks.

If you are using plastic foundation, do the same thing. Some plastic foundation comes with removable tabs that can simply be punched out. Be sure to reinsert the plastic so the passageways are in the upper corners.  

For the sugar mixture, you can use regular granulated sugar, superfine sugar (baker’s sugar), or a combination of the two. Place the sugar in a bowl and add a small amount of water, just enough to dampen the sugar and make it stick together — not too wet! A handful pressed into a snowball should hold its shape.

In order to fill a frame, cut a thin piece of wood to fit inside the frame. Place this under the wire or plastic as a support while you press the sugar into the frame, using your hands or a rolling pin. Once full, allow the sugar to harden. The wire frame can hold about six pounds of sugar, while the plastic foundation will hold about half that amount. Alternatively, you can purchase a SockerMat frame fully assembled.

Naomi likes to place a frame of sugar outside the bee’s honey supply, so they eat the honey first and have sugar as a backup. But as most beekeepers know, the bees often disregard this advice and eat the sugar first. In any case, it’s reassuring to know they have a backup supply.

A dream come true

The Valkyrie long hive is currently being used across the country from Washington east to Montana, Minnesota, Maine, and New York. They’ve also been shipped south to Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, and Georgia. A private school in San Francisco chose the Valkyrie for its rooftop apiary, and another was shipped to Michigan for handicapped veterans. And at Oregon State University, Dr. Ramesh Sagili purchased a Valkyrie for the campus apiary.

One woman’s vision of what beekeeping could be is enriching the lives of bees and beekeepers in every corner of the continent. Congratulations to Naomi and all those who helped her think outside the Langstroth box.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

More information

More information and photos can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheRightHandLLP


Tidbits from the Field
Don’t forget to subscribe to 2 Million Blossoms so you can receive the very first issue, due out in January. While you’re there, you can also sign up for the FreeBee Newsletter which, by coincidence, is free!

And while you’re impatiently awaiting the new magazine, check out this educational pollinator video from Noelle Congdon at Botanical Treasures. I love seeing the pollinators, and the music is both restful and calming. Nice job, Noelle.

Comments

Gary K Olympia WA
Reply

Out of adversity comes genius. Brilliant!

Alan Henning
Reply

This looks like a great idea! I may have to build a few, for myself. I like the idea, of putting the sugar into frames. I tried to pack it into an eke. But, when I inverted it, it broke loose. I don’t think my bees minded too much. I dumped about 8 lbs. of sugar, into the hive. There wasn’t much left, on the next inspection.

Spokexx
Reply

Rusty, I built my first horizontal hive last spring and installed my swarm from the other hive. The girls did great over the summer. You can check out the hive on my YouTube channel, Spokexx

sslm
Reply

Thanks for posting this great article and history. I absolutely love this hive and the quality of construction. I currently have a long hive that holds 32 frames, but I’m considering purchasing a Valkyrie for next season. Vivian has been so helpful in answering my many questions.

One thing I haven’t thought to ask is if the slatted rack is removable. I love the idea of the rack, but wonder if there is any to access it.

Rusty
Reply

Sslm,

No, it’s not removable, unless there’s been a change I don’t know about.

Joe Komperda
Reply

Rusty – l love your site and your insights. Quick question – How does one treat for mites with the horizontal or long hive? One of the drawbacks of top bar hives, when it comes to mite treatment, has been the fact that the honey stores are integrated with the brood nest — is this a concern with these long hives? Thanks, Joe, The Average Joe Beekeeper.

Rusty
Reply

Joe,

I treat my Langs, top-bar hive, and long hive the same way. I remove any honey that will be for human consumption, and then treat.

Andrew Hogg
Reply

Rusty, great article (as always) so thanks. It says that it only holds 24 frames. We often have 2X10 frames as our brood box and then can have as many as 5 medium honey supers on a great year but usually at least 2 or 3. If we were limited to 24 frames how would we deal with a high flow? Also, can we insert vertical queen excluders?

Rusty
Reply

Andrew,

I’m going to see if I can get Vivien to answer this.

Janet Cramer
Reply

I’m wondering about using the SockerMat method in a Langstroth to get the food closer to the cluster. What, if any, changes would you make? Would I still need those little holes?

Rusty
Reply

Janet,

I’ve never tried the SockerMat method in a Langstroth, although I’m sure it would work. Personally, I like to keep the feed, especially hard candy, directly above the cluster because that is the warmest place in the hive, and it is also where moisture from the cluster can easily condense and dissolve the sugar.

SSLM
Reply

On the SockerMat vs directly above the cluster:

In a Valkyrie (or other long hive), are you able to place hard candy feed above? If so, how would you do that? Just place it under the top cloth with the cloth over it?

Rusty
Reply

SSLM,

I’ve done it that way. You can also support the top cloth with a couple piece of wood to supply a little more space.

sslm
Reply

I forgot to ask in my former post…

Can you comment on the windows in the hive:

-How do they perform in winter as far as keeping out the cold? Do you have to put any kind of insulation over the window area for winter?

-Is the glass on the wall of the interior? How is it attached and do the bees tend to try to build comb on the attachments?

Rusty
Reply

sslm,

The windows are covered with a hinged wooden door that insulates the area during the winter. The Plexiglass windows are inset into the wall of the hive and held in place with clips that are flush with surface as well. As a result, there is really no place to build comb. So far, I’ve seen no comb on the window and just the slightest bit of propolis where the window meets the wood on the inside of the hive.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Thanks everyone for the great quesions! Check out our website http://www.therighthandllp.com

Until then, let’s see if I can help:

Alan H: The SockerMat frame feeding system works to prevent the mess you spoke of. The recipe and instructions for creating the frame is on our website. When the “hiking trails” are put into the frame, this allows the girls to travel freely at the top-bar area where it’s warmest. If you choose the 1/4″ hardware cloth, the ladies can also move through the mesh once they’ve eaten the sugar.

Sslm: How are you, my friend?? The slatted rack serves so many wonderful purposes, some of which Rusty has already noted. It isn’t removable, but is a permanent fixture of the drawer assembly. The colony does a great job of keeping the slats clean and everything you might want to examine or inspect falls neatly upon the screened and varroa drawers. Give me a ring and we can chat some more!

Andrew H: The 24 frames held by the Valkyrie yield a honey harvest equal to the 2-3 supers you’ve noted. Sixty to eighty lbs of honey is not unusual, so a high honey flow shouldn’t be compromised at all. As for queen excluders, they aren’t used in the Valkyrie for a simple reason: the queen’s primary purpose is to lay eggs, right? So, should she decide to go for a “walk-about” (and what woman doesn’t need a walk-about every now and again?) we trust that she will come upon the honey/bread/nectar frame and flip the proverbial u-turn because she knows her purpose in life and won’t defer too often. I had a queen that I called the “Wile-y Coyote”: every time I went in for an inspection, she scuttled from frame 3/4 to frame 7/8 in a flash. That being said, I never saw eggs on frame 7/8, she just valued her privacy and didn’t want to be bothered by me at that moment. Being a woman, I tried not to limit her freedom, (you know how we get, right?)

Janet C: Yes, please do use the SockerMat in a vertical hive, and yes, the “hiking trails” must still be inserted. Just use the building instructions on our website and use either the standard or the “Western/shallow” sized frame as you like. The recommended placement would be to the left and right of the honey frames that your colony has already made on either side of the brood area: it’s preferred that they consume the “fruits of their own labor” and then munch into the SockerMat.

Whew! Did I get all that ok? Feel free to email any questions to us at: vivienhight@ymail.com

Thanks, Rusty! Have a great weekend!

Vivien

Janet Cramer
Reply

Thank you, Vivien! Great to have another tool in the box!

CAROL Near Snohomish Wa
Reply

I have a Valkyrie that I really enjoy. However the bees keep bridging the gap between the bottom of the frames and the slatted rack, effectively gluing the frames to the rack with comb which tears and spills honey and brood when I pull a frame. Then I upset them more terribly every time I have to reach in there and use my hive tool to scrape out all that marvelous work they did. I have not gotten any honey in the two seasons this hive has been set up. However this winter they actually might have enough to feed themselves. When I do feed, I just put the sugar patties on the top bars over the cluster and cover it up with the canvas.

I’m using the regular Langstroth deep frames. Is this wrong? There is a 3 or 4 inch gap from the bottom of the frames to the slatted rack. They cant resist filling it in I guess. I also use plastic foundation.

Should I use some other frame (are there deeper ones?) and do I need to go without foundation maybe?

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

You are not alone with this problem. As I’ve said before, I believe that the Valkyrie should be re-designed to respect bee space, because once you violate that basic rule, you’re going to get burr comb. The designers and builders don’t agree with me, believing this is a useful gathering space for the bees. But in my experience, they gather for the purpose of building. There are deeper frames called “jumbo” but I don’t know if they would work. I think (not sure) they are only 2 1/8-inch deeper.

Carol
Reply

Rusty

I’ve been thinking of making a ‘slatted insert’ to slip under the frames on top of the slatted rack…essentially a double high stacked slatted rack, would that cause any problems and maybe solve the burr comb situation? I’ve been concerned that it would be too tall and the bees would not go up into the frames. But if it worked I could save all the great drawn comb they have made.

Also, the question of foundationless frames, do the horizontal hive function better with foundationless?

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

What an interesting idea. No, I don’t think it would be too tall. You know, in a Langstroth the bees don’t always use the bottom box but go straight up to the second one. I wouldn’t worry about the distance.

I haven’t tried foundationless in the Valkyrie, but it might work better, as long as you don’t use a bottom rail. The bees might build to within bee space of the slatted rack. Those would be excessively long combs, however, and probably hard to handle.

wayne varcoe
Reply

I don’t quite understand how you harvest honey in a horizontal hive? Do you remove the excess frames of capped honey (lets say 18-24) and replace them with empty ones, and then repeat as warranted?

Rusty
Reply

Wayne,

That’s one way to do it, or you can extract those frames and return them to the hive wet.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Rusty:

Ahhh, the rub of the issue: foundationless frames vs. foundation. I’ve just finished a great chat with Carol (who’s Valkyrie is enjoying it’s third winter) and truly, the best solution is to do as I’ve strongly recommended to all Valkyrie owners: skip the foundation, please. The advantages of the Valkyrie Long Hive (and no, it isn’t a “long lang”) aren’t limited to ease of operation and less hassle for the beekeeper, but, we have also sought to return to a more natural way of keeping this “managed crop,” (much like corn, strawberries, or cows if I can make the stretch). You’ve seen how the feral colonies build comb in a barn or hanging from a tree, from the top down after choosing an “anchor point,” right? They then draw the comb, populating it with drone, worker, or queen cells as ever they wish, to whatever end they may see fit. In using foundation, (and for our own purposes) we have dictated to our girls what they may and may not do. Kinda like giving someone a blank check to the local furniture emporium but then dictating exactly where the couch, love seat and coffee table must go. In a tree hollow, do the feral colonies stop the comb at bee space from the bottom of the hollowed area, or do they usually leave some extra space, kind of like a “garbage dump”? The slatted rack serves that purpose as well, and the detritus falls to the screened and varroa drawers.

So when we see burr comb on the bottom bars of the Valkyrie, the best question is: For Pete’s sake, what are they trying to say? What are they needing? Is the burr predominantly drone comb (which has been the most frequent case)? Should I put extra, or in some cases any, drone foundation frames on either side of the brood area? If the ladies want more fellahs in the colony, am I forcing them to hit the local pub (at the bottom bar) instead of staying at home? I recommend first that the Beekeeper remove frames with foundation, and in addition put empty frames in positions #1 #2 (closest to the entrance). If the beekeeper must keep foundation, we suggest putting drone frames on either side of the brood area to create (or manage) the location where the ladies may build.

As far as all that beautiful, hard work that was done to create the burr comb which must be cut away from the bottom bar, we recommend creating a “comb crib” using an empty, foundationless frame and some rubber bands. Encircle the frame with the bands going vertically, insert the pieces of comb making sure that they’re facing upward correctly, (no giggling, Naomi: I once put the comb in upside-down) then put a few more rubber bands around the frame horizontally and return all to the Valkyrie. The ladies will connect the comb pieces into one, albeit slightly lumpy, piece and when they start to use it, they’ll actually snip off the rubber bands themselves. Use a sisal cord or cotton strips of material if you like as well.

I hope this helps? Congratulations to Carol, and thanks for the question!

Vivien

Steve Rodney
Reply

This was a very informative discussion thread. Thank you Rusty. I am considering replacing my old top bar hive with a Valkyrie and it was good to see so much information.

wayne varcoe
Reply

I am still trying to figure out how you harvest the honey from a horizontal hive.

24 frames does not seem like much. I am currently running 2 deep brood boxes with a total 18 frames with supers on top. If you take the 24 frames and minus the 18 you are only left with 6 frames of honey to extract. That is not even one super’s worth. I know you can run with only one brood box (max 10 frames), but that still only leaves 14 frames for honey, probably the equivalent of two medium supers.

Or do you remove all the frames of capped honey for processing and replace them with empty frames to be filled again?

How do you remove the bees from the capped honey frames? Just smoke and brush?

Rusty
Reply

Wayne,

There is no one vehicle that is perfect for everyone, just as one type of home or one type of clothing doesn’t work for everyone. Hive types are the same: people use a style of hive that they are comfortable with and that suits their goals.

Langstroths were designed for maximum honey production, and they do that very well. Long hives work beautifully for people who cannot lift honey supers, or who are more interested in bee health than production records. No, you will generally not get as much honey from a long hive as you would a Langstroth, but people who cannot or do not wish to use a Langstroth can still keep bees and harvest honey very effectively in a long hive.

You harvest honey the same way as you do from any hive. Step one is to separate the bees from the honey frames. Step two it to extract honey from the frames or cut out comb honey if you prefer. Really, there’s nothing magical.

You can remove all the frames of capped honey, extract, then return them. Or you can remove the frames and replace them with new frames. The choice is up the beekeeper. And just as you would do in any hive, you leave enough for the bees.

How do you remove bees from frames? Simply shaking the frames dislodges most bees, then you can complete the job with a couple upward strokes of a bee brush. Smoke works well, too. These are standard time-honored techniques that were used long before bee escapes and such.

If you find this unsuitable, stay with what you are doing. It’s just an option.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Rusty, and Wayne:

Using the standard deep frames (foundationless) in an extractor is very do-able: just go much more slowly. Start your extractor at the slowest speed after de-capitating :’) and increase the speed as needed.

There are 60-80 lbs of honey harvested normally from the 24 frame Valkyrie, which holds the equivalent of two supers on a vertical hive; the brood is located on the left (east) side near the entrance and the colony moves west filling as many (or little) of the frames as they choose.

One caveat: please be cautious of “drifting” caused by putting too many hives too close together. We recommend at lease 150′ feet apart whenever possible. All sorts of questions arise when the new arrival seems to be lazy/slow/non-productive when the solution is a simple matter of placement.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Vivien

Vivien Hight
Reply

PS Wayne:

Yes, you would replace the honey frames with empty ones, although I’m not sure I’d do six at one fell swoop.

Vivien

wayne varcoe
Reply

Thanks Rusty

I just wasn’t sure how it was being done, of course now it’s got me thinking that you could do the same with a regular Langstroth hive and just extract a super as it’s filled that way it wouldn’t get too high.

Rusty
Reply

Wayne,

Very true. Many people do it that way.

Infidel
Reply

Rusty,

You keep speaking of something called honey. What, exactly is that?

Rusty
Reply

Sorry, honey. You must have misunderstood.

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