One of the problems with setting up a horizontal double-queen hive is getting everything level and flush so the queens can’t find little openings where they might leave their own hive and get into the neighboring one. In the original post about this system, Bill Hesbach mentions that he prefers to connect the bottom boards with screws, a system that works even if the ground is slightly uneven.
Laura Colburn of Florence, Texas solved the problem by building a hive stand that provides a solid base for the hives but sits easily on concrete blocks. She said there is still some wiggle room, probably due to variations in box sizes, but she thinks her system is tight enough to work properly.
Another variation on the double-hive stand was created by my husband, Rich. Several years ago, he built some single stands that I really like because they are stable and work well even on lumpy ground. I asked him if he could make one twice as wide, and he did just that.
Being an engineer, he builds things that can withstand earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, winds, and all the other ordinary things we get around here. In the photos below you can see the stand fastened together with carriage bolts and seismic clips. Anything for the bees.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten on my hive—no end covers yet. If anyone else has ideas on double-queen set-ups, let us know.
Thanks for sharing photos of my new set up, Rusty. Makes me feel almost famous. 🙂 The stand is simple 2×8 construction and using 8′ boards, easily accommodates 3 hives. In fact there’s a third hive on the other end of the stand pictured above. It also makes a handy place to set supers and hive bodies rather than on the ground.
I wrote a new post on my own blog about my double queen hive with links to your site too, since I got the idea from you.
Hmm, how about a long hive now, like maybe 32.5″ by 19 7/8 with a movable solid division board and stapled bottom? That way the bottom deep is completely level. Now you can start stacking individual deeps and mediums over that.
If you give up, you can use it simply as a long hive given your success with top-bar hives. Alternatively, if you really like it, with more division boards, you could probably house 3 or 4 queens in that unit.
Could you use two queen excluders over each hive deep instead of the one to ensure the queen stays put? This would reduce the risk of a queen escaping into the other hive. I realize this would impede hive inspections, but isn’t that ultimately the point, to allow the bees to do their own thing while filling the supers? Also, have you perfected your split lids yet? If so, would you share your design?
1. I used one excluder over each hive (two total).
2. I just have a piece of plywood laying on each side of the honey super stack. Not exactly perfected.
Perfect, thanks Rusty!! I have decided, it doesn’t have to be pretty, just work. Love the plywood idea. ?
May I ask three more questions 1) How often will you inspect the two queen hive? 2) Do you have supers on that hive already? 3) Would you be willing to give us updates periodically regarding this hive? It would be very interesting to hear your experience and findings!
I am pairing the two queen hive idea with the openings in each super idea, should be very interesting! Thank you for all the time and effort you spend sharing your knowledge and love of the honeybee with us! It is greatly appreciated!!
1) So far, I’ve only inspected once. I don’t intend to inspect during the honey flow unless they start acting swarmy, then I will probably split one or both sides.
2) Yes. I had two, but decreased it to one since they weren’t using either.
3) Yes! I’ve been taking notes as I go.
Sorry to bother you, but are you seeing any activity in your super yet?
I started this two queen hive with two packages on existing comb, so they established quickly, just haven’t seen any interest in moving up yet. My super is a “wet super” so I was hoping that the smell of previous honey would draw them up, but nothing yet.
It has and will be cooler and wet for a bit more here in Spokane, but once it drys out and warms up, I plan to do another quick inspection just to see what is happening.
In any case, thank you for your thoughts and for your fantastic website! It is my number 1 go to for quick, local-ish information!!
No activity yet. One side swarmed a few weeks ago, but neither side is using the supers. That usually means they have not yet filled up the frames below. They will go up when they are ready.
So true! Since I know of no one doing this in my area right now, it is always reassuring to me to get an idea of how others are doing! Thank you so much!
I am reading this blog a year after it was written and I was wondering how your two queens wintered? Also, do you recommend this method for a beginner beekeeper?
The two queens wintered just fine. But, no, it’s complicated for a beginner. I recommend getting some experience first.
Rusty, did you ever do anything more with this? I’m only finding the guest post and this post. Would love to hear what happened for you!
I thought it was too much work because I couldn’t go into either hive without taking off all the supers, and that affected both colonies.
I am considering trying it here in Central Oregon while we are going thru this terrible drought. Maybe I’ll be able to get one super from two colonies for honey. Haha
I think I’ll try it and see if it’s a bother for me. If not, great! If it is too much, always can change it up! ❤️ Thanks for your experience!