The Monster Hive is Now Ten-Boxes Tall

I was fully prepared to find the bottom boxes in the Monster Hive emptyish. The Monster Hive is queened by a Zia Queen Bee┬áthat I purchased last season, and let me tell you, Reader, it is a phenomenon. I’m buying more of those queens this year.

To my surprise, the hive—which was 9 medium-depth boxes tall when Simon and I dug into it yesterday—was booming. From top to bottom, each and every hive body was brimming with bees and brood and honey.

So, instead of reducing the overall number of stacked boxes in the hive (as I had planned), we added to it! Which now makes the hive 10-boxes tall. Aghhhh.

Ten-boxes tall is probably too tall, Reader, but it’s hard to change something that seems to be working so well. So, we left it alone other than to stake it down against the wind with a good rope.

The next time we dig into the hive…probably in a couple of weeks to harvest the honey in it…we should split the Monster into two hives. Which I hate to do. However, I hate for them to swarm, too, and that’s probably on the horizon in a hive of this size.

Simon and I both got decked out in our full bee suits for our hive visit yesterday…and let me tell you, there were some rambunctious bees to deal with.


Simon and the Monster Hive (before we added box #10)

There was also some yummy yummy honey to deal with! Simon took 2.5 frames, and I ended up with 3.5 frames. Simon weighed his…just over 4 lbs per frame of glorious honey.

Top-Bar Hive with window

Deciding on a Top-Bar Hive

So, I shared with you yesterday that Jerod and I are planning our winter top-bar hive project. Unlike Langstroth hives, top-bar hives are not standardized. A Langstroth hive is what you’re used to seeing, Reader. Historically, Langstroth hive boxes are painted white and are stacked one upon the other. (I’ve decided to stop painting mine because painting takes time, I don’t like doing it, and I think they look better when the natural wood has weathered.)

But I also want to add some top-bar hives to my apiary. I can build them myself, they’re low profile, and they’re viscerally appealing to me. I think I love the simplicity. I also think they’ll be easier for folks to keep in their backyards because they don’t call attention to themselves, and they provide enough honey for the family and a few neighbors. The won’t give you hundreds of pounds of honey, but I don’t need hundreds of pounds.

As I said, top-bar hives aren’t standardized, so they come in an unlimited variety of designs…therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that Jerod and I tend to like different types. Which will be good…we can try our hand at both. Or more.

Here’s the one Jerod likes:

Top-Bar Hive with window
Top-Bar Hive with window

I tend to lean more to the low side. I like the hives used by Sam Comfort:

Sam Comfort top-bar hive at the Northeast Treatment-Free Beekeeping Meeting

Or, I like Michael Bush’s Kenyon top-bar hive:

Michael Bush's Kenyon top-bar hive
Michael Bush's Kenyon top-bar hive

Here are a few of these simple babies at work against a wall in Albuquerque:

Top-bar hives in New Mexico

Finally for today…here’s a good link to refer to use as I begin to build my Michael Bush version of the Kenyon Top-Bar Hive.