Many of you may remember the Valhalla hive from several years ago. The Valhalla was a long hive designed by Naomi and Larry Price for beekeepers who were unable to lift heavy equipment or reach stacked hive boxes. The Valhalla hive was unique in many ways, including the fact it used standard Langstroth frames. This meant that frames could be transferred between the Valhalla and a Langstroth, and standard nucleus colonies would fit seamlessly into the Valhalla.
Naomi and Larry continued to use the Valhalla long hive, but over the years, they discovered improvements that would make the hive even better—both for the bees and the beekeeper. When it became necessary for them to switch builders, they decided to incorporate the many changes they envisioned. The remodeled hive has been rechristened the Valkyrie.
The evolution of the Valkyrie Long Hive
Vivien and Bruce, of The Right Hand LLP, have been working hard to perfect the changes and ramp up production of the new hive. I had the pleasure of meeting them both and viewing the new hives in production. What a show! Bruce, “The Beekeeper’s Carpenter” is a woodworking craftsman, attentive to every detail. Meanwhile, Vivien is putting together the business end, learning about shipping practices, packaging, bookkeeping, web management, and even beekeeping.
I have to say, the Valkyrie hives are so lovely I’d like to buy one for my dining room. You know, just for show! Plus, when I got to see the hives in action, I was impressed with the ease with which the hives—and the bees—could be handled.
Some of the improvements in the new hive include:
- The hinged lid with hardware that makes it a breeze to open and close. No heavy lifting is involved.
- The lid mechanism has been tested against stiff breezes, so it will not accidentally close in a strong puff.
- The new lid includes a built in frame rest. While inspecting, you can remove a frame, place it in the frame rest, and slide the rest of the frames one-by-one.
- The built-in slatted rack was tightened up so debris no longer collects along the edges.
- The hive comes with optional viewing windows, either one or two. Your choice.
- The hive comes with two side-by-side varroa drawers that are easy to inspect and clean.
Bruce builds every hive by hand and assembles it to assure that each piece fits perfectly. Then he takes the hive apart for shipping. When I visited the shop, they were still finalizing the packaging method, but what I saw was impressive. Every piece was protected from every other with a variety of corners and braces. The entire hive (not including frames) will be shipped in two boxes. Since the hive was assembled before packaging, you are assured the pieces will fit together with ease.
Bee canvas and bee blankets
The standard Valkyrie comes with a canvas cover that fits over the top bars. The canvas is multipurpose, keeping the bees calm during inspection and conserving heat in the winter. An optional wool blanket fits in the space above the canvas cover. Naomi has found that the wool blanket not only keeps the bees warmer in winter, but temperature readings confirms it keeps the bees cooler in summer as well. Like a well-insulated home, the hive interior is protected from temperature extremes.
The optional hive stand
A really cool option to this hive is the insulated hive stand. Last winter, Naomi decided to use an infrared camera to monitor her hives in winter. What she discovered was a surprise. Her hives were insulated on top with the canvas covers and folded army blankets, so no heat was escaping through the lid. But much to her surprise (and mine!) heat was escaping from the bottom of the hive. She decided she needed a system to insulate the underside.
In reviewing this problem, Bruce decided to design a hive stand with built-in insulation. The stand is made of wood and is designed to hold a large rectangle of 3-inch rigid foam which stops the heat loss in its tracks. As an added bonus, you can specify how high you want the top of your hive to be, and he will cut the legs of the hive stand to assure the proper height just for you. It is an ingenious answer to two problems at once.
Straight from the source
I asked Vivien to give me a run-down of the Valkyrie features in her own words, and here is what she has to say:
From the Halls of Valhalla
“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. Sprung from a ‘faithful constant’ (the Valhalla) to embrace an evolving field of bee biology, the Valkyrie Long Hive has emerged.
A gable-style lid
“The Valkyrie has an hinged gable-style lid that comes in two standard finishes: deluxe powder-coated and textured aluminum. The powder-coated color is ‘Moss Grey’ and the textured aluminum (with a ‘ridge cap’ design) is ‘Juniper Ridge.’ Both lids can be custom ordered in a rainbow of colors for an extra charge. The aluminum is custom fit by hand to eliminate weather intrusion. Feel free to use a dry-erase marker for taking your ‘inspection notes’ on the covers as they wipe clean easily.
“The standard hinges are durable and long-lasting steel, rust resistant and strong enough to stay open in inclement weather. The Valkyrie has one additional type of hinge called ‘Easy Glide’ which is currently in testing and should be available next spring. The ‘Easy Glide’ will allow for self-opening and closing with just a light initial touch. The craftsman quality and lightness of the lid (40% lighter than before!) give the beekeeper an ease of operation which help those with arm, shoulder, or wrist problems.
An interior frame rest
“Under the lid is storage that can be used as a frame rest or to hold hive tools. It can also hold the ‘Interior Canvas Cover’ which is included in each hive purchase. The cover helps to increase the sense of security and privacy within the hive body. It is reinforced at the corners where the hive tool will be used, decreasing the chance of rips or tears.
“As an additional (not standard) benefit, the hand-crafted ‘Interior Pure-Shetland Wool Pad’ can be ordered which helps the colony maintain temperature and humidity levels year round. This pad is 100% Shetland sheep’s wool (locally grown, harvested and felted) and is placed on top of the Interior Canvas Cover. In two gorgeous colors, grey and charcoal, these pads are beautiful and functional as well!
A 24-frame capacity
“The hive body holds 24 standard deep frames. Beneath the frames is a built-in slatted rack with new, tighter spacing on the ends. The space above the rack allows a great view through the observation window. Best of all, there is a space between the bottom of the frames and the top of the slats that allows the bees a free space in which to ‘hang out.’
“A single observation window is standard and placed on the left where viewing is best. An extra observation window can be ordered for the right side, if desired. Feeding supplies and containers can be placed directly inside the hive body when using less than 24 frames, so the need of an exterior boardman feeder was eliminated completely. Take that, you predators!
Interchangeable varroa drawers
“Beneath the body sits two drawers, screened and solid, which are interchangeable left-to-right (for those of us prone to forgetting). In hot weather, the solid drawer may be removed and the predators such as wasps are foiled again by the secured screened drawer: no access to the colony here!
Optional insulated hive stand
“Finally, an optional custom-fit stand can be ordered with each Valkyrie: it allows the top of the hive body (not the lid itself) to sit at 30″ from grade-level which is perfect for any beekeeper needing to be seated during inspection time, and suited to the height of most adults. The stand can be custom ordered in other heights as needed, or even lowered. Included is a fitted sheet of rigid insulation which protects the colony from icy-cold or super-heated ground temperatures year-round: less work for ‘the ladies!’
“With shipping across the U.S. and globally, we’ve incorporated our bee-friendly philosophy to also include shipping containers and materials that are 100% recyclable, with easy set-up at your location. Just call for pricing!
“The over-all size and weight of this Valkyrie Long Hive means less work for the beekeeper and the colony. It is lighter, taller, and built to last. We offer a two-year warranty on the lid and hinges and we won’t sacrifice ‘bee biology’ at any point.”
A hive to be proud of
I am truly impressed by the craftsmanship poured into the Valkyrie hive. Not only that, but the commitment of Vivien and Bruce is palpable, not only to beekeepers but to the bees themselves. If you have difficulties with the Langstroth configuration or are just looking for a better way to keep your bees, I urge you to have a look at the Valkyrie Long Hive.
Long hive beekeeping
For more on long hive beekeeping, see the long hive discussion page.
You can see more details on their Facebook page, their website, or call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.
Honey Bee Suite
This is so cool. I was thinking I would move toward this type of hive as the Langstroth is just impossible for me. Way too heavy and removing frames to work the hive just ticks the bees off to no end. I thought I would give the one deep experiment a try this summer only to discover bees that were honey bound and overcrowded beyond belief. Back to two deeps and the impossible stuff, something I really didn’t want to do. This hive looks like the solution to a whole lot of problems. Gotta get the girls through winter, but come spring, there’s gonna be new houses in our neighborhood. Can’t wait! Great article.
Thank you for your interest, Sharon, we look forward to hearing from you!
Looks like it could survive IEDs.
Hopefully, we won’t have to undergo an impromptu testing but, hey, it just might survive!
Thanks for your interest, and humour!!
Wow, very nice, I wish we could buy these in the UK!
We can ship to the UK, just call for shipping prices and hive availability.
Have a wonderful evening!
Looks gorgeous Rusty, great to see people taking such efforts to perfect a hive able to be used by everyone. I might get one for my partner in crime!
Just wondering what your take is on the ventilation? From what I understand ventilation is more important than insulation.
Honey bees in my 13 long hives demonstrated that strategically placed insulation is a huge step in reducing much of their ventilating activity. The pleasant trade off is not seeing bees bearding, or their beekeeper fretting about excessive condensation within the hives. Beekeeping should be fun and not so worrisome.
How and where can we order one?
Call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.
Thanks for the review, Rusty – it’s very impressive! Very well-thought-out
A few weeks ago I was racking my brain to figure out a way to donate a frame of eggs to a friend who was afraid her top-bar had become queenless.
One question: suppose I decided to “retire” from shifting hive boxes but wanted to move a thriving hive to a Valkyrie. In transferring frames from Langstroth boxes, what order would I place them in? Outer (stores) frames from bottom, brood frames from bottom, brood frames from top, stores frames from top?
Love to hear from any of your readers who have undertaken this kind of switch.
I would place the brood nest on the end where the entrance is. and then the upper boxes of honey and stores next, IE farther from the entrance. similar concept of the standard Langstroth, laid on its side. Entrance to brood nest then past the brood nest to the stores. If you have 2 boxes with brood then you need to merge it in a fashion that would end up with the brood all together on the entrance end with stores of honey farthest from the entrance. The bees travel into the stores in the winter as far as they need to. Ideally they do not run out or have stores split on 2 sides of the brood nest, they cannot shift to the other end in the middle of the winter. Feeding can be done adding 3 or 4 frames of honey to the end farthest from the entrance. Also I would move them to the long hive, early in the summer so they figure out they are in a different configuration and they will set up the stores on there own. Moving them late fall would perhaps not allow enough time to shift stores if needed.
have fun good luck
That’s very clear, and makes perfect sense!
What a lovely hive. There was a similar one with carved images of honey bees on the exterior at EAS. I wonder if the clothes moths are a problem with the wool blanket?
Good morning, Anna:
The hive is built to keep predatory insects out, so, it doesn’t seem likely that a moth could enter inside.
Thanks for your interest!
Rusty; How do I find out the price of the valkyrie long box hive? I”m very interested in purchasing one.
Call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.
Wow, that hive body looks fantastic! I don’t know if I could afford it but I might just want to get rid of my Langstroth hive!
In this hive, is the entire box a brood box? I can’t quite tell how it is that you harvest anything? Is there a queen excluder to one side? Do you shift the frames towards the bees and remove them as they fill? How do you winterize? Is there a website to look this up?
The website isn’t ready yet, so sorry! Page upward on this blog where there is an excellent answer to your placement question. Also, the ladies will winterize the hive themselves, and if you add the Shetland Wool cover to your hive purchase—so much the better as it really brings a higher level of protection in both summer and winter.
Thank you for your interest!
I looks beautiful. My questions is, do the Langstroth frames fit this box? How many frames does it take? Queen excluder included? Thank you
The Valkyrie is designed to make the “cross-over” from a Langstroth quite seamlessly. And yes, the STANDARD DEEP frames fit beautifully, 24 to each Valkyrie.
Nice talking with you JoAnne!
Could you email pricing info to me? I am hearing-impaired and cannot call. Are you in Oregon?
I sent your request directly to Vivien. I’m sure she will be back to you shortly.
I have problems with Argentine ants. Currently my hive stands are standing in cans of oil. How would I ant-proof the stand? (These ants are really small and persistent, so a tight box would only make them work harder to find a way in, which they’ll manage somehow.)
Interesting concept. Worth looking into. Question, does the wool blanket not irritate the girls? I thought they did not like wool? I am still learning and would greatly appreciate any guidance.
Is losing heat from the bottom of the hive such a bad thing? Just wondering if too much condensation might build up without bottom ventilation. We have a saying in the U.K. that damp kills bees, not cold.
Observing honey bees at their hive entrance often gives keepers clues to the colony’s emergency call. Bearding to a tight cluster signals the colony is reacting to hive temperature extremes. The purpose of insulate materials, like wool or rigid foam, is to create a cavity that the colony isn’t always in emergency mode. If the insulation is not wet, then it is doing its job in allowing the colony to maintain the temperature of their choosing, including high humidity that brings some moisture needed by the bees. Some keepers have located their long hives on a bed of rock. Rock absorbs heat and radiates it back up into the hive. My thermal camera detected a winter colony pushed up against their inner cover, while heat was escaping from the hive’s bottom. Surprise! Rigid foam was secured underneath the long hive as an experiment. Within 24 hours the tight cluster had expanded to access their needs on several frames. The adversity from both examples was eliminated with insulation. The wool insulate keeps the propolised inner-cover cloth cool v. sticky, and allows the colony to easily maintain a core temperature with high humidity. Yes, beekeeping is more than insulating a hive, but it has become a good addition to the Valkyrie long hive.
Hi Rodney, and thank you for your question.
Honestly, these Shetland Wool Inner Covers are so soft, the felting is so comfortable, I’d like a winter coat made of the stuff. That being said, the wool cover is cut to fit right on top of the canvas inner cover, so the ladies won’t really ever come into contact with the wool.
The wool cover stays on the canvas cover 24/7/365 and helps to avoid the temperature spikes that can be so troublesome. Take a look at the blog post dated Aug 31 from Naomi Price. Thanks, hope that helps!
As noted above, I now have a website with PayPal!
PayPal won’t be fully operational until just after the holiday, and I’ll still need to add a pricing sheet/shipping information before the week’s end. I’m VERY HAPPY to point a link to your site. Thanks again for all your wonderful assistance and knowledge. I am blessed.
I’m so glad you got the website going. It will make a big difference and help you a lot.
Thank you. I learned something new.
You’re welcome, Rodney, Rusty is the best!
Nice ….. our hive producer makes similar hives, but the frames are deeper and larger … I have been thinking of switching to something like this for a while now, I think it would be so much easier than fighting with the regular boxes. easy in and out. Thanks for the write up. I like, I like !! Very well made and thought out.
Hi Debbie and thank you for the nice comment!
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, the credit goes to Larry, Naomi, and my husband, Bruce. Such a wealth of expertise from the “bee whisperers” and Bruce’s devotion to craftsmanship — I’m privileged to just soak it all in.
We’ll look forward to hearing from you soon!
Hi Rusty, I hope all is well!
I’m trying to contact Angie Cary, any ideas?
No, the name doesn’t ring a bell.
Thanks, Rusty, I’ll keep looking.
PS: I’m still trying to figure out how to change the font color of your web link so that it stands out more… sheesh. Check out the Shetland Wool page on the website that I just added.
Shipping costs are costing us sales orders—think I’ll just buy my own truck!
The web stuff takes some time. I never know as much as I need to, but I muddle through.
Would like to purchase, can you send me a price?
You need to contact Vivien Hight, the business owner. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good afternoon, Jo, and thanks for your interest!
On our website there is a pricing page: therighthandllp.com
Hive prices start at $480 depending upon the lid you choose and other options. When you’ve made your decision, give me a call to get the shipping/handling price.
Have a great afternoon! Vivien
Hello Mr. DeDecker (and Rusty):
I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, and, feel free to look up our website.
Hi – I am new to beekeeping – taking a class actually and have yet to get bees, hives, etc… but trying to do my research first. I really like the long hives and there are a couple of local people making Langstroth Long Hives near me but they have a flat telescoping roof, 30 frames and they use honey supers on top. I note the Valkyrie uses a gable roof that is hinged, so assume you don’t put honey supers on top. How does one go about harvesting honey [eventually – I don’t expect to my first year] in this type of hive?
Thanks! Love this site – I’ve learned so much from it already!
It works the same way as a top-bar hive. The honey is stored in the end frames. With 30 frames, you might have brood in 3 through 14, and honey in 1-2, and 15-30, as an example. The honey storage area is not clearly separated from the brood area, so you harvest the honey from wherever you find it.
Thanks so much! I actually just got off the phone with the guy making the long Langstroth with the honey supers – it is designed for housing two colonies (has a divider board in the middle) and that is why it has the honey supers. I might try it so I can start with one hive but get two colonies (as recommended). Hopefully by next spring my husband will have built a second Long Langstroth hive and I can put the second colony in it, omit the supers and add vented gable roofs.
hi Laurie! Thanks for your interest!
The Valkyrie has many advantages, one of the best being ease of operation for the beekeeper. If the long Langstroth has honey supers on top, then you’re still needing to lift a pretty hefty weight once the frames are full of honey, right? I’m not an expert: just guessing, really. Keep us all posted!
I have a new Valkyrie hive from Right Hand LLP. It is well thought-out and well-made.
I may have missed this info, but how do you combine hives in a long hive?
Combing colonies can be accomplished through several options. The newspaper method uses the hive’s surplus end located opposite the entrance, about frame 16 through 24. Drape your choice of paper from the top bar of frame 16, down its face and continue across the slatted bottom toward the space of frame 24. Continue the process with slits, a mist of moisture and add your bees. Finish with the inner-cover cloth.
Another combining method is to have the incoming colony walk-in. Provide a ramp that connects the ground with the hive’s entrance. Drape a sheet over the length of the ramp, over ithe ramp’s edges until is meets the ground—minimum coverage. The drape helps to keep the bees out of grasses and to facilitate an easier climb. Dust the incoming bees with sugar powdered before removing them from their hive.* Shake the bees from each frame onto the ramp, then promptly remove their hive components from the area. The receiving colony could also be dusted with sugar powdered to help busy and distract them from the incoming bees. Some phoretic mites get left on the ramp and many of the sick bees will walk away, refusing to enter. The ramp method also gives the beekeeper an opportunity to remove questionable bees from entering their new home.
*Grind sugar in a coffee grinder to make sugar powder for dusting honey bees.
I am impressed with the construction of the Valkyrie long hive and the concept is very appealing to me. My experience is with conventional Langstroth hives, but I would like to give this concept a try.
I live in the Appalachian Mountains, and the beekeepers I know that have tried top bar hives and the extra deep Layens style long hives have not been too successful wintering the bees in our climate.
Judging by the photographs posted previously, it appears that winters in central Oregon are similar to what what we experience. However, the bee’s natural inclination is to move vertically as in a hollow tree cavity, and in a horizontal hive we are asking them to change what they have been doing for ages.
Would you share with me your insight and experience in wintering honey bees in a horizontal hive?
Personally, I don’t have any experience with a long hive, although I have a new Valkyrie and I intend to report my progress and findings as I go through the process. I will be putting bees into it as soon as it’s warm enough to make a split here in Washington.
However, I have worked with top-bar hives for about ten years—one of my own and many as a volunteer at a prison. I’ve never seen a problem with overwintering them, and in fact, my top-bar hive is much easier to overwinter than my Langstroths—basically, it takes care of itself.
Bees will move up if that is where the food is or they will move laterally. Sometimes feral swarms move into rafters, for example, and build and move laterally or even down. Since they start at the top, there is no room to move further up. They do fine. Many beekeepers who fail like to blame the equipment, but I think that’s nonsense. Honey bees are extremely versatile and are perfectly equipped to live in a horizontal hive.
I’m hoping one of the other beekeepers who keeps long hives will chime in here and answer your question. Also, if you get a Valkyrie, be sure to report back. I’d like to get a group together to compare notes on using the Valkyrie and trade management ideas.
I own four long hives (not the Valkyrie) but have only had one with a colony going into one winter, and two with a colony going into another winter. Of this terribly small sample, I have not gotten any through the winter and all three samples had plenty of honey left.
We have sudden cold snaps here. I think the people who say the bees like to move up and won’t move sideways are oversimplifying to the point of wrongness, but I think in a vertical hive, with the cluster warming the honey above them, the bees have more available warm honey in a sudden cold snap.
One of the reasons I love this site is because Rusty says “It depends”. One of the things it DEFINITELY depends on is your climate.
Hi Jim (and Rusty):
There are a handful of folks here in Central Oregon who have Valkyries that house thriving colonies which have over-wintered beautifully, so that’s a wonderful thing.
More exciting to Bruce and I, (as being directly vested in this beautiful Long Hive), is the fact that I’ve shipped Valkyries to Colorado, Montana, Georgia, New York, Maine and this week, to Utah, and several delivered to the Washington State AND Oregon Coast area. My point is this: these Valkyries will be given their colonies this year, and I am beyond excited to think of the future good reports from so many states with a such a huge diversity of climates and beekeeping practices. TOO COOL!!!
When the weather cooperates, I’ll be posting pics to our website of the local “ladies” which have been thriving more than one year here in our area—stay tuned!
Thirteen long hive colonies are currently in my apiary. The location is mountainous terrain at 4200-feet backed by ponderosa pine and Douglas-firs. This area receives an average of 15 inches of annual precipitation, and experiences temperatures ranging from 105 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of minus 20 degrees (without a wind-chill factor). Additionally, sunset brings an immediate chill to all areas of Central Oregon’s High Desert region. In order for the colony to achieve homeostasis without unnecessary energy output, these significant environmental conditions were consideration starting with the Valhalla and into its next generation, the Valkyrie.
Rusty’s reply to your concerns about colony movement and overwintering is the same from me.
I too have a new Valkyrie hive and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring and installing bees into this beautifully constructed hive.
I live in Maryland, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay where summers are quite hot and humid and winters cold and damp. Among the many features I admire about the Valkyrie hive, I particularly like the insulation components designed into the hive & hive stand.
I will keep my other 3 colonies going in traditional Langstroth hives and will be happy to share my experience and comparisons with this new style long hive in the months to come.
Vivian was such a delight to work with and the hive was packaged and protected incredibly well for the long trip across the country. My husband, who assembled the hive for me was very impressed with the attention to detail in the workmanship and the clarity of the assembly instructions.
I’m very glad to know another Valkyrie beekeeper. I am eager to see how they perform outside of the Oregon high desert where they were developed. With my Langs, I’ve developed an entire wintering protocol based on high winter moisture. So overwintering the Valkyrie in a damp environment will be interesting. I’m not sure how to do it yet, but I want to set up a section where long-hive beekeepers, especially Valkyrie and Valhalla beekeepers, can compare notes. I’ve heard there are a few up here in western Washington, but I don’t know who they are, so I’m hoping some will see these posts and join in.
I live in Columbia MD, retired Army Vet. Took HoCo beekeeper class a few years ago, and taking Heroes to Hives on-line class now. I’ve been intrigued with Horizontalhives.com Layens and Dr Leo, as well as Slovenian Bee Houses and Apitherapy for PTSD, disabled, children, etc. Don’t have any equipment myself.
I’d be interested in an update on your experience, thanks.
Hello Rusty and Adrienne!
Thank you so much, Adrienne, for your kind remarks! I’m confident you’ll enjoy your Valkyrie and all credit goes to Bruce and his craftsmanship—simple as that.
I just returned from the Olympia WA area: so far, Rusty, you’re joined by Tina L., Jan H. (two Valkyries) and Marge P., each in the Olympia area or within 20 miles of it. Jan H. lives on the bay in fact, just by the Capitol building so her moisture amounts will be interesting…
Perhaps they’ll contact you on this site, or I can gladly encourage them to do so!
Thanks so much for the comments, Vivien
Is it possible to have the roof split so as to host a Flow hive for a short time?
The good news is that the frames used in the flow hive can be placed into the Valkyrie and as soon as they’re full of honey, simply transfer the full frames back into the Flow hive for harvesting.
One caveat: if the frames from the Flow Hive are shallow/Western/medium-sized, be sure to harvest them at the first opportunity– don’t leave them inside the Valkyrie too long or the ladies will draw comb on the bottom bar of the frame.
Hope that helps!
Mary, I forgot to mention:
using the same frames from the Flow Hive also (happily) means that the Valkyrie doesn’t need any modification at all; it still supports our original premise– “Easy for the bees, easier for the beekeeper.” Vivien
I have been researching long hives and intend to build one. I live in Wyoming; it can easily get to -25 in the winter. I am a second year beek and managed to get my 2 hives through the winter in what appears to be good shape. I am using a quilt on both hives and am very happy with the results, some of my quilt research was done on your website. My question is about insulation. I would like to build a long hive that is insulated all year, it can get pretty hot here in the summer and I would like to know your opinion on the idea. I currently use 1-inch foilbacked styrofoam on the hives I have and it seemed to work quit well. If I do build an insulated hive I will sandwich the styrofoam between two pieces of plywood. I am a little worried about too much heat in the summer. Your opinion would be appreciated as well as anyone else that has any experience with an insulated hive.
I worry more about heat than cold, although heat is probably less of a problem in a long hive. The bees should be okay in summer as long as you have some way for the heat to escape. The heat generated by a large colony is significant, and it will need a way to get out because it won’t escape through the insulated walls.
My apiary has been long hives for many years. It is because of the appropriate hive insulation that the spike or drop in temperature has never been an issue. Bearding appears without insulation. Winter food intake increases without insulation. And the propolis becomes gooey and strings without insulation.
Derek Mitchell wrote an interesting article addressing insulation and heat loss, “Honey Bee Engineering: Top Ventilation and Top Entrances” for the August 2017 issue of American Bee Journal. It is helpful to read the full text of his experimenting on various hive styles and their related heat loss.
Naomi and John,
When I first read John’s question, I thought he was speaking of insulating the entire hive, sides as well. But I know you (Naomi) don’t insulate the sides, so you have a way for excess heat to leave through the relatively thin (compared to top and bottom) side walls. Now that I reread John’s comment, I’m still not sure. But for clarification, I love top and bottom insulation, but in summer I would be wary of a so-called wrapped (or side insulated) hive.
Hi JCB, I realize this response is just a little too late (3 years) but anyway, I have been pondering this same question of insulation from every angle for 18 months (I’ve been a beekeeper for 12 months). I live in a relatively mild sub-alpine climate, where we have lows of 20 (F) or -6 deg C, and highs of 104 F (or 40 deg C). We get a lot of fog and very strong winds. I have made a powder-coated tin covered, 20mm foam inside, tight wrap around for my hives, complete with piano hinge and latch and 4 entrance holes, 3 of which are now plugged with cork as it is early winter here. I am thinking I will leave it on all year. Think about plant roots in pots, they cop heat from all sides except the bottom. So the soil temperature would swing from hot to cold, wet to dry in ongoing cycles. A high maintenance schedule for anyone! Stability entails economy, and I think this goes for bees as well as plants. I have heard a few stories where insulated hives outperformed non-insulated in summer. The bees are excellent at regulating temperature, but if hive conditions are quite stable, they will allocate their workforce more economically and expend less energy (honey) in maintaining hive homeostasis.
Aside from all of that, I’m felting up my thrice washed and cleaned but still a bit lanolin-y sheep’s wool and making them a blanket out of that.
I think a Valkyrie may be your solution. But that’s my opinion…
Rusty and John,
I understand John is considering to sandwich an insulate material on the built sides. The idea has merit and should be pursued for seasonal testing. John’s idea also would benefit from reading Derek Mitchell’s research accepted and published in 2015. Mitchell has a masters in engineering with a physics background. He repeated a long standing experiment from 1943. Mitchell took 2.3 million temperature measurements from 12 hives – 8 different styles.
Not all long hives are designed equally, however, the Valkyrie does have many features for the colony to achieve homeostasis without unnecessary energy output. Yes there will always be a plethora of apiary conditions to consider for any selected hive. We always seem to circle back by making a comparison based on our human ways. How livable would our homes be minus insulation and with several windows or doors continuously open?
Here’s my disclaimer: individual beekeeping practices can affect the overall performance of any hive. That being said…
In my oven at home, I turn the dial to change the temperature; I don’t weld extra steel to the sides, top, or bottom. In the Valkyrie Long Hive, the canvas cover (and triple layer wool blanket) help prevent heat loss from the top, and there’s no upper entrance to worry about. The brick insulation inside the stand helps prevent heat loss from the bottom as well as helping prevent the cold/heat from the ground from traveling upward into the colony BUT there’s still plenty of air flow. This helps the ladies to be their own “oven control knob” free to regulate the heat and humidity levels by themselves. We also rough up the interior of the hive body to encourage the bees to propolize the walls—even more “self management” for the bees. This seems to be a very straightforward solution, but that’s just my opinion ?
I live on Long Island in New York, USA. Where can I buy one of these? How much do they cost?
Here is the link to their website.
Check out the website or give me a call: 541 771-7278
I just picked up a Valkyrie long hive from Vivien. She drove up from Oregn to Renton Wa to deliver it to me in a hotel parking lot…long drive for her…lots of slow congested traffic for me between Renton and Snohomish.
Vivien is really fun to talk with, I had a ton of questions. We had the hive out in the parking lot, I bet there were ‘looks’ from all over, wondering what we were up to! (and transferring cash!)
Looking forward to splitting into this hive and experiencing how it goes.
And Rusty I’m hoping I can ask long hive questions?
I just set up a page for long hive discussions. There’s nothing on it yet, so send me some photos! Long hive discussion page.
I’m using long Langstroths here in the Karoo, South Africa. They are more stable than the standard Langstroths, and so are not so easy for honey badgers to turn over. You hang them about a metre high between two poles. I can also padlock them easier than a vertical hive. They are suitable for the beekeeper who doesn’t often get a chance to open the hives. I use frames without wire, and harvest by cutting out combs. Suitable for Africa!
Good afternoon, Mr. Murless, congratulations on your inventive beekeeping! And thank you for your comment.
One metre above the ground? You must be very athletic, indeed. I’m unfamiliar with “the Karoo”, is it desert? or forested? Is there very little rainfall, or quite a lot?
We’ve put some thinking into a design change on our Valkyrie lids which would allow the lid to be padlocked shut, and you’ve got us thinking about it once more. I wonder if the Valkyrie, seated in the stand and full of bees would weigh enough to convince a honey badger to look somewhere else for a snack? Do you have a different name for your hives or are they always called a “long Langstroth”? It’s wonderful to see that you use a foundationless frame (no wires) because that’s what we use in our Valkyrie Long Hive.
Thank you so much for your information–looking forward to hearing from you again!
You are so correct about securing a long hive to be easier than verticals. My colonies are not confronted with honey badgers, just inquisitive horses. The Valkyrie long hive with its stand makes a secure, stable combination to strap.
Rusty, did you drill openings in your end cap roof for ventilation? I just purchased (2) Valkrie hives in Swptember and will install bees in spring of 2020. Please keep me posted on any news on these top bar hives. I try not to miss any of your postings. THEY ARE THE BEST. I LIVE IN PORT ANGELES WASHINGTON 98362
Yes. Much to the chagrin of the developers of the Valkyrie, I did drill ventilation ports. They are screened on the inside to prevent robbing, etc. My reason for doing so has to do with the very damp environment of coastal Washington. Within two weeks of installing my first bees in a Valkyrie, the canvas cover and the inside of the roof were dripping wet and covered with mold. The ventilation ports fixed it in a heartbeat and the continued use of the canvas cover (after bleaching) keeps the hive from being drafty.
Thanks so much for your response on ventilation of the Valkrie hive here in port Angeles. I’m a big fan of ventilation in my Langstroth hives and think seriously about your judgment and looking forward to spring to install my bees.
THANKS ever so much for your advice.
Hi Terry, did you get your blocker boards?
Yes, Terry, there were holes drilled in the roof of the Valkyrie. Gasp!
Please remember that any changes to the design or form of the Valkyrie will nullify our two-year warranty, notwithstanding that each beekeeper needs to keep their colonies however they wish, and I would never question Rusty’s expertise. There are many Valkyries in the Olympia Sound that haven’t reported any problems and the Valkyrie that resides on the Oregon coast in Waldport — really just a few hundred feet from the shoreline– are all of them doing just fine. I don’t foresee any problems with your two “Swedish Blues,” and I’m sure you’ll do well. Say “hi” to your grandson for me!
Rusty — did you use on your top-bar hive you purchased from Vivien that blanket filled with wool and do you think that it was a necessary item to keep your hives warm in all temperatures? I’m about to set mine up this coming March and I would like to know how yours are doing so far.
Thank you for any information you can provide.
P.S. I live in Clallam County, Port Angeles.
I did not get the wool blanket with my hive, I just continued to use the canvas cover in winter. So far, all is well. Of course, we’ve had a very warm winter, even for this area, which seldom has cold winters.
The year-round wool insulation above the canvas cover completes the intended function of the Valkyrie. The February, 2020 issue of American Bee Journal has an informative, research-quoted article, “The Condensing Colony” authored by Bill Hesbach. Perhaps his complied resources (encourage you to read originals) will help you understand the Valkyrie’s continuous use of the wool.
Stress on any of my colonies, especially that which I might unintentionally impose on them has always been my top priority to reduce or eliminate. Colony mitigation to my choices can happen quickly and perhaps without immediate notice from me as their steward. To what cost to the colony were my choices? This is the utmost reasoning that care was incorporated into the Valkyrie design.
I have followed many Valkyries from Long Island, across states, to my presently 20 Valkyries. All is good for colonies to prosper stress free when the Valkyrie is completely engaged as it was thoughtfully designed and maticuously built.
Best to your beekeeping season,
My question is how much distance is there between the bottoms of the frames and the slatted rack?
It’s about two inches.
Hi Chris, thanks for the question!
The Valkyrie in the shop awaiting transport shows 2 1/2″ fat from the slats to the bottom of the bottom bar in a standard deep frame. To be fairly precise.
Happy Thanksgiving! Vivien
Oh, thanks Vivien. I would have gone out and measured if it wasn’t raining buckets.
What, does it rain up there?? lol
Thank you Vivien and Rusty for your quick replies.
And here’s hoping both of you also have Happy Thanksgivings!
I’m a TBH hobbyist beekeeper and recently saw this blog post about the Valkyrie long hive. I’m interested in exploring long hives. Based on the pictures, there seems to be more than a 3/8 inch space between the top of the slatted rack and the bottom of the frames. How much space is there between the slatted rack and the frame in a Valkyrie long hive? In your experience, do you get a lot of combs built in that space where the bottom of the frames get stuck to the slats? Thanks in advance.
Please add my additional comment to Vivien’s wonderful description of honey bees loving to produce burr comb, and how the beekeeper can rescue all of that high energy work by the bees.
Many beekeepers prefer to use foundation. That wax or plastic foundation has a pre-determined stamped cell-size, usually worker cell. As the colony begins to prosper, so does their desire for drone brood. Where is there room to rear drones if all frames provided are worker cells? Hence, burr comb. Drone cells will be built in the space between boxes of vertical hives and even in horizontal hives like the Valkyrie with its designed space under frames.
The beekeeper can easily read the colony’s need and provision them with a foundationless frame that allows the colony to build what they desire and within the frame. A green frame manufactured specifically with drone-size cells is another option to offer the colony.
Hello, Sarah, and thanks for your question:
Whew, we get this one frequently: the answer may be on the Long Hive drop-down on Rusty’s site, but I’m happy to help!
There is 2 1/2″ from the bottom bar to the slats. This serves as a cold-air sump area, (leaving the warmer air at the top-bars), as well as a meeting place where the girls hang out in the warmer months of summer, (I’d love to know what they’re gnoshing-on about). And yes, sometimes, as in Langstroth/vertical hives, there will be burr comb. Here are a few of the common scenarios, with the only common denominator being the cure: create a “comb crib” and return the combs back to the bees. These are applicable to the Valkyrie Long Hive, and I can’t speak for other horizontal hives.
Your colony are burr-comb-making machines. Isn’t it true that some colonies are proplise- or honey-making phenoms? In my Valkyries, after I had sliced the comb away a few times, and returned it to the colony in a “comb-crib” it’s almost as if they were miffed at my interference and just… stopped.
Another Valkyrie owner cut away the burr-comb, made the crib, and plunked it right in the middle of the brood frames (yes,) and, the burr-comb stopped. Naomie suggested that method and it worked great.
A Valkyrie owner in the Midwest noticed the burr-comb was predominantly drone cells. They were using foundation in their frames, so they put a drone foundation frame in position #2 and on the outside of the honey stores frames, and the burr-comb just… stopped.
And then there are the Valkyries that don’t have bottom-bar burr-comb at all– go figure.
The teaching I’ve been given points out the most important factor: what size are the cells, and, why are the bees building them? As the manager of the colony, I need to find out why and go from there. Perhaps putting a comb-crib in the middle of the brood area kept them busy enough for long enough that they forgot about the bottom bars– I’m not smart enough to know. And Naomi and Rusty will bust me for sure for anthropomorphizing if I’m not careful. : ‘ ) Isn’t it true that burr-comb of some sort will happen in every hive body– horizontal or vertical? Then, I’m trying to learn what the ladies are saying… oops, makin’ ’em human again. : ‘ )
Does that help? Have a great week!
Do you make a “Valkyrie flow” hive option? If yes, what is the price for hive plus flow option?
Glad to address your “flow hive” question: it seems that the frames which are used in the flow hive are sized differently than the “standard deep” frame used in the Valkyrie Long Hive. There have been suggestions in the past of adding a “super” to the Valkyrie, or, renovating one side to accommodate the honey extracting parts. Would it be easier to alter the frame-ledge in our Long Hive so that the flow hive frames would fit? Sounds easy, and it could be done; keeping in mind that the frames would need to be removed and taken to wherever the extractor is set up. Remember, also, that the flow frames are wider, so 24 of them wouldn’t quite fit into the Valkyrie as with the non-flow standard frames. Feel free to contact us for pricing, we’d be glad to help!
Please note: some beeks have been very creative with modifications to the Valkyrie, after purchase and assembly. Any change from the original format will void the warranty.
Hey, Mike, wait-a-minute! Who’s RAY??
Do you sell the blueprints for these hives? I am married to a carpenter and we would love to build our own hives.
Just sent you an email, also. Thanks for contacting us, and for your question. We’ll be selling prints in the future, but just not at this time. If you have any questions, please give us a call: 541 771-7278
Je serais interesse comme michelle par des plans de votre superbe ruche.
Pourriez vous me faire connaitre la demarche à suivre pour avoir les plans si possible, et sinon quel est le tarif de la ruche pour la france?
[I would be interested, like Michelle, in plans for your superb hive.
Could you let me know the procedure to follow to have the plans if possible, and if not what is the price of the hive for France?]
Good morning, Monsieur Carlos:
Thank you so much for contacting us! At this time, we aren’t selling any plans for the Valkyrie, but it is possible to ship the hive to France. The Valkyrie would travel first to Los Angeles from Oregon, and then onto France. I would need the address of the nearest port of call to your home location and then I could work up a price of shipping.
Please feel free to email me on our company email address: email@example.com.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Vivien and Bruce
I’ve seen a question involving Eric Winters and Adrienne Welch, but try as I may, I can’t find the entire body of the conversation, so I may be off-topic here.
Bruce, (The Beekeeper’s Carpenter) and I are very grateful to our military forces and we’re happy to offer the chance for any veteran to enjoy the ease of working a colony inside a Valkyrie Long Hive or Loki. While we haven’t made a concentrated effort to link-up with the excellent organizations mentioned by the retired Army veteran in Columbia MD, there’s surely some serious benefits to both of our horizontal hives.
Your top bars will be at 30″ or 34″ from grade which means they’re easily reached from a wheelchair or garden chair. An individual honey frame will weigh 8-12 pounds and can be grabbed one-at-a-time, opposed to 50-60 lb supers. Frame #’s 18-24 (apprx) can also be used as a table, so one’s arms aren’t fatigued. Also, your hive tool, hive brush, inspection cloth, wireless speaker, cell phone and car keys are within easy reach behind the interior ledge of the Valkyrie/Loki roof. One stop inspection, if you will.
Everything about our hives was built purposefully to make bee keeping “more fun and far less worrisome” and we mean it! That beekeeping can once again be enjoyed by our military veterans, well, that’s just an added bonus.
Thanks, Adrienne for the “shout out”: I wish I could access all that you and Eric spoke about…