I am finding that the hardest thing about this mentoring-thing is not making decisions for my student. It's hard though...really hard. Okay, here we go.....I got a response from the people that make these hives:
1. They have found the extra space beneficial for ventilation.
2. Their claim is that because the box is red ceder (as opposed to white ceder), that they do not have problems with pesky other bugs. I can see that for moths, but they are also claiming it to be true for varroa.
3. They apparently have had no issues with cleaning out dead bees, though they really didn't address that point directly.
My mentoree wants to keep this box so this is what I told her:
1. She will initially use the added space for a frame feeder, then I told her to add a 10th frame (because then the spacing will be very similar to a 9-frame set up in a standard 10-frame langstroth).
2. I had no foundation to dispute their claims. That I would do further research. But that if she wanted to keep the hive, that that point was an "unknown".
3. The ability to clean out the bottom would be addressed when necessary.
4. That I highly recommended she have a proper inner cover, but that she could make one.
5. It had to be okay that if she needed additional equipment for this hive, she only had one source to go to.
6. If she ever expands to a 2nd hive...get standard equipment.
Yes, we have discussed varroa, yes we have discussed nosema and dysentery, yes we have discussed the way bees build wax in wierd places when there is too much room, and a whole bunch of other things.
She has so many things on her plate right now that this is the direction she will go this year. I think it will be a very interesting year.
For those of you who are curious, you can view the boxes at beeboxpeople.com. Though the box she has most closely resembles the "standard climate garden box" at the top of their Products page. Hers is more than 8 frames though.