FAQs about the Long Hive
I will list several frequently asked questions and their answers here. I will also attempt to clarify beekeeping terms for non-beekeepers and talking points for non-woodworking beekeepers to use when communicating with someone who may be building a hive for them who doesn't have beekeeping experience and isn't familiar with beekeeping equipment and terms. The button below leads to a page of glossary definitions of beekeeping terms and equipment.
Long Hive questions
The long hive on this website is also referred to as a "Long Langstroth Hive", which means that it is a horizontal hive that uses traditional Langstroth frames and dimensions which is the most common hive configuration in the USA. The name comes from L.L. Langstroth who developed the design and is attributed with discovering "bee space" which is the natural distance bees leave in the hive between combs to move back and forth. This space is approximately 3/8".
Can you use frames with foundation in the long hive, or can you only use foundationless frames?
A: You can use any type of frame that fits a Langstroth hive. It is recommended you not mix different types of foundation unless the comb is fully drawn out. See my article on foundationless frames for my reasons for using them. I do recommend using Langstroth deep frames. Medium frames are not deep enough for the bees to adequately cluster in the winter.
Does the entrance have to be on the end, or can it be in the middle?
A: The entrance must be on the end, or on the side on one end. Bees build the broodnest by the entrance to the hive and put the honey stores behind the broodnest. If the entrance is in the middle, the honey stores will be split on two sides of the hive and the cluster may starve in the winter because it cannot access the honey on the other side.
Do you need to use division boards to manage the brood nest and keep them from having too much space?
A: I fill the empty hive with all the frames from the beginning and let the bees expand as they respond to the natural honey flows. The bees do not need their space confined, they will only use what they need and will only heat the broodnest. Using division boards makes more work for the beekeeper because then the honey flow has to be watched and monitored so the bees are given enough space when they need it. Without a division board, the bees can move out as fast or as slow as the forage warrants.
Do I need to double wall my hive or insulate in the winter?
A: It depends where you live. I make this decision based on the USDA plant hardiness zones. If you are in plant hardiness zone 6 or lower, it is a good idea to insulate your hives of any configuration in the winter. If you are a 7 or above, it is probably not necessary. For beekeepers who want to save the work of putting on and taking off insulation, a double walled hive is an option, but it is more work to construct, so you have to decide which is more work.
Do I need a screened bottom board, and how do I put one in?
A: Beekeepers in the north with a traditional winter usually do not need or want a screened bottom board in this style of hive. However, beekeepers in warmer climates do not have the natural break of the pest cycle that comes with a hard winter. Several people have created a pull-out drawer under a screened bottom for southern climates. I do not have a plan for this, but beekeepers tend to be creative sorts, so any plan that is easily maintained by the beekeeper and works for the bees will work.
What about ventilation?
A: Adequate ventilation is the most important element for bee survival, especially over the winter. The design on this website has many features which insure adequate ventilation and were developed over a number of years of experimentation. One easy solution for both the long hive and traditional vertical hives is the notched inner cover. This gives year 'round ventilation and by flipping it one direction or the other gives the bees either direct access to the hive or access through the inner cover hole. I have also added extra notches to some of mine for even more ventilation in the summer. I also use this metal entrance cover in my peaked roof for additional ventilation, especially in the summer. Please note that for this to work properly, holes must be drilled in the mid rib of the roof prior to assembly. One of these discs is put on both ends with vent holes in the mid rib so air can flow freely through the roof and ventilate out hot air.