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Beehive for a birthday - advice please!
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spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:00 am    Post subject: Beehive for a birthday - advice please!  Reply with quote    

My partner is currently doing a beekeeping course and with his birthday coming up, I want to surprise him by buying him his first hive. I've been looking on eBay and prices vary, sometimes dependent on whether all the internal bits and pieces are included or not. It's very confusing.

Can anyone tell me how much is a reasonable price to pay, and what I should be looking for to ensure I get the most useful setup? I know next to nothing about bees myself but I did note some hives include supers and some don't. But as I know you need them, isn't it best when buying as a present to get a hive that has them included?

He's been offered a nucleus as a present from someone else, and we've had word of a couple of beekeeping suits available second-hand (I will be helping out and learning as I go this year, probably doing the course myself next year).

I guess what I need as someone who currently knows nothing is a kind of 'shopping list' of things I could perhaps buy that together make up the basic 'starter' kit? You know, like everything but... 'bees not included'.

Andy

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Have a look at the Thornes website, it wil give you a solid idea of current market prices, they do a complete beginners kit too which would give you an idea of what they feel is useful

spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thank you. I was going to ask for the address, but took an educated (well, easy) guess and discovered it was thorne.co.uk. ))))))

So if I use their prices as a kind of baseline, that should help me avoid paying over the odds, do you think?

Your advice is appreciated.

Andy

spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Blimey, prices are much higher, though, on Thorne than on eBay... But it does give me a great idea of the stuff he's going to need....

Andy

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7094
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thing is hun, it all depends on whether he wants Nationals or WBC's - Mine are nationals and I haven't found anywhere cheaper at that sort of quality - Even the Bee Inspector said how good they were

However I think he fell in love with WBC's yesterday - they are the chocolate box traditional looking hives - unfortunately there is usually a massive difference in price - the WBC's being much more expensive although I have found this company

http://www.caddon-hives.co.uk/products/beehives/WBC%20Bee%20Hives.htm

That do them at a reasonable price - The other problem is that it only comes with 1 brood box, 1 super and 3 lifts - you need at least twice that for one hive - I don't know whether he sells the lifts and boxes separately but its worth asking

In addition you then need frames and wax - the majority of new beekeepers go for Hoffman frames and infact that is what I use but there are 2 types of Hoffman - Narrow Bar and Wide Bar - I use Wide bar in both my supers and my brood chambers

Wax - you need wired Worker foundation for the brood chamber and wired Drone foundation for the supers, plus a smoker, a bee brush or goose wing,queen excluder and hive tools - cloths are useful as well to help keep the hive quiet while you are working on it, oh and a plant sprayer - Fill it with water, add some Mint from the garden and you can use it on the bees to damp them down - He will be learning all about that over the coming weeks

Then you will need a clearer board for clearing the bees out of the supers eventually but my OH made mine for me and I'm sure he would help make him one

If he goes for Nationals - he will also need stands for the hives to sit on - I keep promoting this guy (and I shouldn't really cos I've got to buy some more equipment from him!) but his National hives are great

National Hive on Ebay

and I really like these stands

Hive stand on e-Bay

Lorrainelovesplants



Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 6501
Location: Dordogne
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I use Smith hives - I find them easy to use and lighter than Nationals.
WBC have the traditional look, but are awkward to use, and offer lots of hiding places for moth and varroa etc.
Join a local group and get advice from people who do it.
We have a beekeeping supplier at Okehampton who is very reasonable.
I bought my hives second hand from a club member and then cleaned and burnt them out and have had no problems.

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7094
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Oh and whatever you buy - they must have open mesh floors - don't be fooled into thinking that you can get away without them

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7094
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Lorrainelovesplants wrote:
I use Smith hives - I find them easy to use and lighter than Nationals.
WBC have the traditional look, but are awkward to use, and offer lots of hiding places for moth and varroa etc.
Join a local group and get advice from people who do it.
We have a beekeeping supplier at Okehampton who is very reasonable.
I bought my hives second hand from a club member and then cleaned and burnt them out and have had no problems.


I think at this point - its confusing to bring in the other types of hives - after all there are Smiths, Dartingtons, Langstroth and the Commercial deep hives just for starters

Spicy's partner is already a member of a beekeeping club and is doing the course I did last year - They recommend Nationals and WBC's because that is the experience of the majority of the members

spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

@ Jo: He definitely wants the WBCs, and from what he says I think the reasoning is sound - they are said to offer better protection in winter, and it gets very, very windy here in N Yorkshire compared to where you live. From what I read, they take National Supers anyway.

There aren't as many listed on eBay and they do indeed seem to cost more, I notice!

@Lorrainelovesplants: I would imagine, though, as with any animal husbandry, if the WBC hives are being checked regularly as they should be anyway, the risk of those things is reduced to as low as possible? He is now in the BBKA and Lancaster Beekeeping Association, although he also needs to sign up with Airedale.

He couldn't do the beginner's course Airedale offered because frankly it wasn't held at a particularly clever time - a weeknight, quite early, and quite useless for those who don't live locally and have to travel to get there from workplaces in the city. It would have been fine if he worked 9 to 5 locally but how many people do these days?

The one in Lancaster was better as it is held partly on Friday nights and a bit later in the evening, and on Saturdays during the day.

Also, ABKA has no website and the Lancaster folks now have a lovely site with forums, thanks to Jo!

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35904
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

spicycauldron wrote:
He couldn't do the beginner's course Airedale offered because frankly it wasn't held at a particularly clever time - a weeknight, quite early, and quite useless for those who don't live locally and have to travel to get there from workplaces in the city. It would have been fine if he worked 9 to 5 locally but how many people do these days?


Probably didn't want to do it too late in the evening, because of chilling the bees? Buy yes, I agree, not good unless you are a 9-5 person.

I am a WBC fan. We live quite high up and I think it gives them more protection. And, of course, they look pretty .

Are you a wood-working type person or do you know someone who is? I've got some WBC plans I could email you if you'd like them.

Instead of the Hoffman frames Jo mentions, I use castellated spacers each side of the brood box or super to maintain the 'bee space' - then you can use bog-standard frames.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

WBC hives are awkward to work & expensive.
National hives are cheaper & more readily available second hand.
One year when we had a good honey flow I opened a WBC to find comb between the brood & lifts.
Nightmare! Stings, bees everywhere & lots of mess.
Sold them soon afterwards & went to nationals.
In the UK the extra insulation they supposedly give isn't necessary.
All of mine are on mesh floors which I leave open all year.
Cold doesn't kill bees, damp does.
A well made national with a good deep roof will give years of service & pay for itself many times over.
If your buying second hand I wouldn't bother buying one already with frames & wax.
Buy new frames & foundation.
Diseases & pests are easily spread in old combs & frames & can't be cleaned as easily as the boxes.
Good luck whichever route you go down.

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7094
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

spicycauldron wrote:
....From what I read, they take National Supers anyway.


No they don't - they take the same frames not the supers - A WBC super takes 10 frames whereas a National super takes 11 frames

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35904
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 08 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

TAVASCAROW wrote:
WBC hives are awkward to work


I don't find them so!

spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 08 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks for the advice everyone. It's clear there's controversy over hive choices that won't ever be resolved because personal choice is what it is, and not likely to change unless someone has a bad experience or simply fancies trying something different.

I don't think we're ready to try building a hive, although we're not the strangers to woodwork we were just a few years ago and of course you need to be reasonably adept with woodworking tools not only with beekeeping but general garden space maintenance when growing your own food, building compost areas, etc.

It's not the cold that's an issue here in winter, all the UK gets cold, but the temperature feels a lot colder in winter because we live somewhere that gets very, very windy. So windy things get blown over, so whatever hive is decided upon we're going to have to take every possible measure to ensure it stays put in howling gales.

spicycauldron



Joined: 28 Aug 2007
Posts: 418
Location: North Yorkshire
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 08 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

And I'm telling friends and family to buy my partner gift vouchers from thorne.co.uk, as that seems the most sensible way forward, allowing him to make his own choices. Although he mentioned needing hive tools to me yesterday and I couldn't tell him he's got some already lined up as a prezzie from Jo's family, engraved no less, which is a lovely idea!

The thing is, I can't afford to buy a hive on disability benefits (partner works) but I'd really like to buy him something as opposed to a voucher - which is great from friends and family, not so great from your partner. He already has some excellent beekeeping books, the Bibles of the subject, so I'm stuck on ideas on bee-related paraphenalia that... might not be essential, but would be cool as birthday presents AND help him out in his first year as a beekeeper.

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