what is a langstroth hive?
The most used beehive construction method in existence today is the Langstroth hive design which is a vertical modular design that uses rectangular beekeeping frames . Langstroth hive setup are massively customizable, allowing the beeman to use stacked boxes to any height of their liking depending on the needs and strength of the swarm housed in the hive. Box dimesions vary but generally come in 3 different depths: deep, medium, and shallow, and 2 different widths: 10 frame or 8 frame.From our Beekeeping experience we recommend starting Beekeeping with Langstroth hives with either 2 deeps, or 3 mediums depending on your needs and your physical strength . Deep supers full of Honey weight up to 100 lbs, while medium boxes weight up to 60 lbs. Shallow boxes can be used to enclose feeders and other accesories but can also be used as honey supers for women and older people what cannot handle the full weight of the larger boxes.
WHY USE A LANGSTROTH HIVE?
Langstroth hives are by far the most used hive style in North America,Latinamerica,Europe,Australia and New Zealand .Because of that, there lots of accesories and resources available if you choose a Langstroth hive as your mainstay hive.If you plan to make a living off Beekeeping as a Starting beekeeper or a Commercial Beekeeper and plan to have a large apiary with multiple hives this is the design you want to use.Even though for optimal use It does requiere 4 sided wired wax foundation,It is the best option for those that plan to produce honey in a larger scale because of relativily inexpensive larger capacity boxes.You or those helping you, do have to be able to do heavy lifting, with boxes ranging from 30-100 pounds. Because of the way frames are built,Honey is contained in a stable ,durable,reusable combs.
history of langstroth hives
The Langstroth Beehive Construction method was invented around the mid 1800s by Pastor Lorenzo Langstroth(December 25, 1810 – October 6, 1895). The vital part of his invention, and that which put his name in beekeeping history, is the moveable frame. It is not really clear whether Langstroth actually was the first beekeeper to create the movable frame but the truth is this invention ended up dominating Modern Beekeeping .Even though Langstroth did invent his hive,he actually did not work with wax sheet foundation( It had not bee invented yet) the way is done today but rather allowed his hives to build natural comb.
GENERAL HIVE MANAGEMENT
To get going with a Langstroth Hive ,installing a bee package ,You need 2 boxes to start with plus maybe one super for holding a feeder(if any). Setup the bottom Langstroth box with nine bars and leave the Top Box empty.Stick the queen cage between 2 bars of the bottom box and make sure you take off the cap exposing the hard candy so the bees can free the queen.Open the Bee Package and shake the worker bees into the top box making sure to get as many as possible into the hive and lean the Package against the Langstroth's Hive entrance so the stragglers get into the hive . Now place the Langstroth's frames in the top box, put in shallow supper and feeder(if feeding),and finish up putting the hive roof into place.If You just have a swarm that already has a queen then the procedure is the same except there is not queen cage to fool around with.
maintainance HIVE CHECKS
A Langstroth hive beekeeper has to do the same basic beekeeping tasks and face the same bee problems as if using other types of Bee Hive designs. You have to check you hive periodically throughout Spring to make sure you provide you Honey Bees enough room for brood and honey storage,then take off surplus honey and finally start taking boxes off once the harvest is done in the fall.Honeybee managament is an art,a balacing act. It they have too little space bees will just swarm(split the colony in two).If they have too much room,they will probably kill themselves working and wind up absconding(the whole colony leaves).You just have to make sure to add a box only when thay have nearly finished filling the ones they have.
There are two methods for increasing hive size when using Langstroth hive: Supering (adding boxes to the top of the hive) or Nadiring (adding boxes to the bottom of the hive).
A) Supering The first alternative(more popular) of increasing hive size by is adding boxes to the top; these boxes are called supers. the Langstroth beekeeper then keeps adding supers so the honey bees have a place to store honey surplus. The brood nest as a rule is located in the region of the hive closest to the entrance at the bottom of the hive. So when the honey bee hive store the honey for winter,they will store it as far away as possible from the cold air that comes in through the entrance. Following the bees logic then if they have Brood closest to the entrance and honey storage further from the entrance,when you add boxes to the top of the hive tower then you are adding Honey storage space. The 2 bottom boxes are where the brood is located,then medium or shallow suppers are used in the top of them and that where bees will store the honey.
B) Nadiring is the technique of expanding honey bee space in a Langstroth hive by adding empty boxes to the bottom. In nature bees build comb from the top of their cavity on down,so this a more naturelike way of increasing colony size.It has been found through multiple tests that Nadiring works best when using Medium Boxes.The way it works is when bees are nearly out of room,then and only then,add an empty super to the bottom right on the bottom board.Fresh comb will be built on the bottom box.Once the foundation is drawn and new comb is available in the bottom box,the queen will start laying on the bottom boxes and the higher up boxes will become honey supers.Honey crop boxes can then be taken off the top
When taking a honey crop off a Langstroth hive,the procedure is very similar to doing it with a Warre Hive or a Top Bar Hive if you are not using Wax Foundation.Also You really do not need to clear bees out beforehand as you can just go in and clear out the bees frame by frame using a bee brush.Simply remove frames one at a time ,carefully brushing bees off using plenty of smoke to keep bees docile and then once you have moved the frames home, cut the comb from the edges of the frame ,crush and use a honey strainer to clear out the was and debris from the honey. Working the combs in a frame is at the same time an advantage and a nuisance. An advantage for the beekeeper because the frame provides support and comb breakage and honey losses are reduced.A nuisance because you now have to cut the comb off not only at the top bar but also from the sides and many times even the bottom bar so comb processing time greatly increases.
When you would rather harvest by the complete super,then you need to clear bees out from your honey supers.To do that you will have to push out the bees in the box. This can be accomplished using a bee escape board. After you stick the board between the honey supers and the boxes where you want the bees to stay ,you have to wait a couple days, especially when nights are getting cooler, and the honey critters will slowly move out of the supers, but will not be able to find their way back through the one way escape . Then you can easily take off the honey super from the hive and pull out the frames that contain honey comb. Then Cut the comb from the frames(check out the Blisstain tool) , crush it up and filter it using a mesh bag and honey strainer.
When fall comes around, check the bottom boxes for comb and if you find them empty you can take them off until the colony is only has only 2-3 boxes.
When "winterizing" your hives you have to be sure they have enough honey stores ,28-48 Lbs in most areas .If handling several colonies,you can honey spread the surplus between them all to be dead sure they all have sufficient. To be totally Organic beekeeper you may not want to feed your bees sugar syrup even though that remains as a possibility in extreme situations.It is a tough winter world out there So you have to make sure the last time you harvest them,you leave enough honey stores for your honey bees to overwinter unless you believe there will be enough Bee forage between the last harvest and winter for them to have enough time to restock their supplies of honey and pollen.
When you want to have 100% assurance your Honey bees will make it through the winter then make sure the Hive entrances is reduced to a bare minimum.
In winter Langstroth bees will be quite concentrated in warming the hive.That is why the entrance will be more vulnerable to critters.In this case,a mouse guard is a must since it will prevent larger pests such as mice from getting in while still allowing bees to clean out the hive.