Bzzzz, not brrrrrr! Although you may still be enjoying some final rays of late summer sunshine (if you're lucky), now is the time to get your hive ready for winter.
Proactivity is of the utmost importance when preparing your hive for winter. When the weather drops below 55º(f) you should, under no circumstance, open your hive. Doing so breaks your bees' propolis seal which they built up for insulation. This means you should be prepping your hive now, so that when the temperature drops, your hive is ready to weather the elements.
We've got the tools of the trade to get your hive set up and ready to go from the inside out. What's even better is that everything is 20% off right now for our Hive and Harvest Sale so you can winterize your hive for less!
Honoring tradition, while maintaining modern aesthetic and design practices, is what we do best. That’s why we designed our unique comb joint, an upgrade from the traditional finger joint traditionally used to make hive boxes. Our signature comb joint makes for stronger, more efficient, and more striking hives. We’ve been so excited to share the news; you may have already heard about our new and improved joinery. Let’s get down to what makes this joint so special.
One of the biggest components that makes our boxes and joinery so special is that they are made using a CNC machine, which is a state-of-the-art piece of milling equipment that is far more accurate than a traditional hauncher. “CNC” stands for Computer Numeric Control. This means the machine’s movements are operated through specific numerical commands entered into a computer, as opposed to manually controlled wheels and levers. This level of precision allows us to get the perfect cut every time, meaning our boxes fit together easily and securely. We know that most of our customers buy our boxes unassembled, and this kind of precision makes assembly a cinch.
The new comb joint also has 9% less exposed end grain in comparison to a standard finger joint. If you’ve never heard of end grain before, end grain refers to the end of the board where the wood was cut. It’s also where water could seep into your hive and cause damage. 9% May not seem like a lot at first glance, but considering there are four corners per box and multiple boxes per hive, this 9% can make a big difference. This significant decrease of exposed end grain makes for a more weather-resistant hive, meaning it will last you and your bees for many more years to come.
Lastly, bees inspire us every day, including when we hit the wood working table. We designed this semi-hexagonal shape to mimic a comb cell—a shape bees instinctively employ for its strength and efficiency.
Don’t forget that our 20% off Hive and Harvest Sale is still going on! Additionally, our pine hives are 25% right now! This is the best time to get your own box with comb joints and see our new and improved joinery for yourself.
Watch below to learn even more about the comb joint from Bee Thinking co-founder, Matt Reed!
After years of searching for a sustainable source of pine, we've found material that's not only suitable for the bees, but is responsible to the environment, handsome, and available at a great value. As always, we are committed to bringing you the highest quality products while staying true to our core values of using sustainable, local materials.
We are excited to announce that we will now offer our Langstroth hives using sustainable Sugar Pine sourced from FSC Chain of Custody suppliers in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s why we are thrilled to be offering Bee Thinking pine:View full article →
There’s a reason we included “thinking” in our company name. Since day one, we haven’t stopped thinking of ways to design the strongest, smartest, most beautiful and efficient beekeeping products available. This means sweating the small stuff, including the joint that holds our boxes together.
So we listened to a lot of customer feedback, and did our own research. We examined all kinds of existing joints, looking back over hundreds of years of woodworking techniques throughout the world. We ultimately took inspiration from the bees themselves to make a strong and efficient joint that we think you’ll love. Since the very beginning, our boxes have used interlocking finger joints; the industry standard for hive construction. This makes sense! Finger joints are strong, attractive, and suitable for most woodworking endeavors. But we couldn’t help but to explore any possible modifications to make our joints even better.
Our new Comb Joint includes everything we love about the typical finger joint but is also specially designed to be sleeker, stronger, easier to assemble, more efficient, and longer lasting. Our new Comb Joint features interlocking semi-hexagonal pieces similar to honeycomb. We used this shape for the same reasons bees do: it’s highly efficient and it’s strong. The inset frame rest leaves no weak points, making for an incredibly strong box from top to bottom.
With approximately 9% less end grain exposed compared to a traditional finger joint, there's less area for wood to seep in and damage your hive.
The joint is milled using a CNC machine, which is five times more accurate than a traditional hauncher, allowing us to get the perfect cut every single time. Assembly of our new boxes is quicker and simpler with miniscule opportunity for error. We want beekeepers, novice and experienced, to spend less time setting up and more time keeping bees!
Finally, we know that appearance matters with any addition to your home or garden, and we take that seriously! Our new design is sleek, compelling, modern, and completely unique. It is sure to add something special to your yard or apiary.
We have spent endless hours in our workshop and are extremely proud of what we designed. We will continue to invest in our mill, using the latest woodworking technology to craft products that make the beekeeping experience even more special. We’re confident that you, too, will love the latest generation of precision milled joinery leaving our mill in Portland, Oregon.
The Langstroth hive just got a facelift. We took the same expert design principles we used to design the Warre hive roof to craft a 3/4" thick, kiln-dried, Western Red Cedar peaked roof available for either the 8-frame or 10-frame Langstroth hive. And bonus: the Langstroth peaked roof is 15% off today as part of our Independence day sale! While the telescoping lid has it's advantages, this newly designed peak roof may be a much better option for a lot of Langstroth users. Here's why:
Help your hive weather the storm in style! The attractive peaked design of the roof allows for rain to roll off and away from your hive, protecting it from moisture-related issues. Unlike other lids, this roof stays secure during gusts of high wind. Keeping your hive dry is a key aspect of overwintering and this roof is an essential tool for doing just that.
We've always used Western Red Cedar on our hives, largely because of its advanced insulation power. It's low density and high proportion of air space make it the number one insulator of all the soft wood species. Between all the different components of your hive, insulation is most important for the roof. Since heat rises, a well-insulated roof ensures that heat will stay trapped in the winter and out in the summer.
The roof works well on it's own, but pairing it with the Langstroth insulation box makes for an insulation power team! The Langstroth insulation (or quilt) box works by wicking away the moisture that rises within the hive. The cedar shavings that fill the insulation box absorb that moisture. Pairing it with the peaked roof ensures your hive stays at a stable temperature and humidity level.
Beekeeping is not only fun, but beautiful too! This roof gives your Langstroth hive a lovely, polished look and feel. Perfect for the beekeeper who aims to keep their backyard looking exquisite.
Simply remove the inner cover of your hive and place atop your upper-most super. It was crafted to last many seasons to come. Simply treat with tung oil to protect it and give it a rich color with out any chemicals or additives.
Preparing to winterize your hive can be a daunting task, even for an experienced beekeeper.
If you’re working with Langstroth and Warre hives, you’ll want to remove surplus boxes that could potentially become dead space for cold air, robbing valuable heat from clustered bees during winter months. Also, if you’re using screened bottom boards, closing ventilation inserts will help to trap heat inside the hive. Bees expend an incredible amount of energy over the course of the winter to maintain a consistent 90-degree temperature inside of their clusters. Help them conserve as much energy as possible is crucial.
At the same time, it is also important to create a way for any excessive moisture to leave your hive. Because bees generate heat with the beating of their wings, that heat will rise and form condensation when it mixes with the cold air at the top of the hive. While some condensation is important — offering bees an important water source when they can’t leave the hive and offering insulation — excess moisture can become a challenge for colonies who are already struggling. However, condensation tends to get a needlessly bad rap, but as Dr. Thomas Seeley has cited, bees in natural cavities have a warm, somewhat moist environment in the winter months.
Moisture enters the hive a number of ways. Leaks in the hive roof, between rickety boxes or inadequate ventilation are potential issues to pay close attention to. When working with a Warre hive, ensure that your quilt box material is dry and lofted in order to allow for proper ventilation. If you have a Langstroth hive, you might want to consider propping the inner cover up slightly to allow for excess moisture to be released.
If you live in the extreme north and feel there may be a need to add batting to the exterior of your Langstroth or Warre hive to fend off the encroaching cold, consider wrapping your hive with tar paper or a heavy construction paper. If you’re working with a top bar hive, consider filling cavity space with straw, hay, or even an old woolen blanket to create a thermal barrier. However, be careful of over insulting. Too much insulation could block the heat of the sun. An overly warm hive could also increase bee activity, which would then increase honey consumption. David Heaf points out that the minimal use of honey stores occurs at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. “Either side of this temperature honey consumption arises.” (Heaf 83)
Having a wind barrier or wind break is also something to consider when preparing your beehives for a long winter. Bales of hay provide a nice natural way to limit the impact that icy winds can have on a hive. Be careful though! Michael Bush points out in his Practical Beekeeper series that hay bales are nothing more than “a mouse nest waiting to happen.” (Bush 421)
With all hive types; helping bees protect their stores is crucial going as move into the colder months. Mice, wasps, and even other bees can be predators looking to invade your hive. Preventative measures like mouse guards and entrance reducers can help restrict larger predators from entering the hive, as well as allow your bees to mount a formidable defense by limiting critical pathways to honey stores. Additionally, ensuring that boxes with larger stores of honey are not at ground level is also another good way of helping bees defend what they worked so hard making all spring and summer.
If you have been using a queen excluder during the spring and summer months, removing that tool is strongly encouraged during the winterizing process. Bees will migrate throughout the hive during the winter months as they continue to utilize honey stores. By removing the queen excluder, this ensures that the colony will not have to make the tough decision of following the food, or keeping the queen warm. Ultimately, it allows for more flexibility to let the bees do what they would naturally do.
Some final best practices that beekeepers should consider are periodic visual inspections throughout the course of the fall and winter months. However, avoid upsetting the hive during the winter. Opening or disturbing the hive could put a significant amount of stress on the colony, causing bees to rapidly deplete their food stores in a way they might not otherwise. A beekeeper may want to invest in a stethoscope to listen to your bees without disturbing the hive. Also, keep an eye out for signs that predators have been trying to access the hive. Lastly, pay attention to the hive entrance and make sure that the front door is not blocked by dead bees or debris, restricting access to vitally important airflow.
Few of our beekeeping supplies can seem as perplexing to new beekeepers as the 8-way bee escape. On its own, the yellow plastic bee escape hardly looks intuitive (is it a hummingbird feeder? A water trough? A Frisbee?). Once mounted to a Langstroth inner cover or other exit board, however, the bee escape board becomes a beautifully simple honey-harvesting tool.
View full article →
Almost two weeks ago on the sunny morning of June 19th I visited Dena Rash Guzman's beautiful 60 acre organic farm where she keeps, among other things, her honey bees that make up Lusted Road Honey Company. I was there to aid in the inspection of her colonies housed in a variety of hive designs -- Langstroth, Warre and horizontal top bar hives. She told me she was particularly concerned about the Warre hive, as in the past day or so she's seen a tremendous number of dead bees suddenly appear on the bottom board.View full article →
They've been a long time in the making, but we finally finished the first batch of cedar Langstroth hives. They are constructed from the same wonderful kiln dried Western Red Cedar used on the rest of our hives. Boxes available in shallow, medium and deep in both 8-frame and 10-frame configurations. Cedar hive kits with a roof, inner cover and either solid or screened bottom are also available. All hives boxes and cedar hive kits include FREE SHIPPING to the contiguous 48 states!
Cedar Hive Kit with Medium Boxes - Starting At $144.99
Deep Box - Starting at $36.99
Medium Box - Starting at $32.99
Shallow Box - Starting at $29.99
What is a quilt box? is one of the most common questions we receive. It is essentially a small box with burlap or screen on the bottom, filled with sawdust, cedar shavings or some other organic material. The box sets on top of the topmost box the bees inhabit and is said to "absorb moisture" and "retain the nest scent and heat." But does it?
A customer of ours recently gathered some data on this very subject by using temperature sensors in his identical Langstroth hives. He added a quilt box to one of them, and left the other one untouched. Here are the identical hives:
Here is the quilt box:
Here is the data he gathered:
Note that the temperature fluctuates far less on Hegemone (the hive to which the quilt box was added).
In the next week he plans to add a solid bottom to one of the hives to see what impact it has on the temperature.