Here’s a quote from Jamie Strange’s article “The Bournacq Hive,” in the October 2003 issue of Bee Culture:
“It was not until after beckeepers began working in moveable frame equipment that foulbrood became a problem…. Also, because generally only strong colonies were Wintered, the beekeeper insured that he was keeping the best stock for the following year. These strong colonies did not have to be fed or treated for disease…. the beekeepers were selecting for disease tolerant stock.”
That quote is true only in the context of beekeepers moving AFB contaminated equipment (including hive tools) from one hive to another. If a hive with AFB is encountered the hive tool used to inspect the colony should be immediately set aside until thuroughly sanitized to avoid contamination. The primary reason Langstroth hives, with removeable frames, were legislated as a requirement was that removeable frames allowed for the inspection, identification, and distruction of hives with AFB. Previously, Skep or Gum hives affected by AFB would be robbed out by most of the hives in any given area, desimating the honey production in that area.
No more facing the entrances to the sun. You might think this is not important but it can be. I moved some colonies onto a lovely piece of land overlooking a large slough designated as a wildlife preserve, faced to the sun as I had been taught to believe was right. They steadily lost vitality and died. There is a fierce wind blowing straight up the slough directly into the hive openings facing south, which is the direction they need to face to get the most sun. Most sun means quickest warm-ups and most light for the longest duration, which means most work which means most production. I still catch myself feeling uncomfortable about it from time to time. Unlearning is apparently harder than learning.
My hives face south, directly into the prevailing winds. The hill behind my house directs the wind right down the creek bed in a northerly direction. Where a hive with a bottom board, solid or screened, would catch the wind and funnel into the hive where it would eventualy wither and die, the bottomless hive allows the wind to pass under the hive and clears away the dead bees and debrie that falls to the ground. I've tried moving the bees to an easterly or westerly direction but even with the wind blowing directly at the front of the hive, the bees preform better facing the sun, facing south.
There are some disadvantages: Decreased honey production for one. Or, is that a good thing?
Re-orient the hives to a southern facing and the honey production will go back up. At least that's been my experience.
You might think bottomless hives could be invaded easier by yellow jackets and cleaned out by robber bees. But there is a difference between how the guard bees function with bottomless as opposed to conventionally bottomed. In the conventional setup, the robbers have only to get past the guards, which are positioned at the entrance looking out. Once in, yellow jackets can have their way virtually without challenge. With bottomless, the guards cover the complete territory, scanning in every direction, and it is not possible to get past them. I have watched yellow jackets working the bottomed hives while avoiding the bottomless. I think with the guards out in the open, the yellows get attacked a lot quicker and heavier, and they learn fast.
That's been my experience also per my previous quote:
3. Other bees, including wasps and hornets, seem to be confused around bottomless hives.