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Author Topic: styrofoam hives  (Read 10154 times)
beefree
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« on: May 30, 2004, 12:57:28 PM »

in my quest to make beekeeping easier on my back, i had been considering either A) going to 3 medium or even 4 shallow supers as brrod boxes; or, B) going to styrofoam.  Then i read John's post on styrofoam not handling moisture in the winter.  So, i had a thought.  What would happen if i used styrofoam in summer (when i need to be able to move things around) , and then at the end of September, moved the frames one by one into  wooden hive body(s) for the winter.  And moved them back again when the weather warmed up in April (ha!).  Would that give me cool bees in the summer and warm, dry bees in the winter?  Or would it just irritate the heebeegeebees out of them?
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2004, 02:33:21 PM »

As I stated before, I'm not a big fan of styrofoam hives.

http://beemaster.com/beebbs/viewtopic.php?p=2009&highlight=#2009

However, with an upper entrance for ventilation, they should not be a problem.

You bring up a good point about weight, maybe that is an advantage of the styrofoam I haven't considered.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2004, 03:41:48 PM »

Styrofoam hives are quite used in Northern Europe countries.

I know that some beekeepers are starting to use them in Spain.
As we, in Portugal have a very similar climate, I'm going to buy some to test them in our weather.

And we do have very hot summers, here.
Last year, the mercury raised above 35ºC, during almost two months.

So I'm going to test them, and possibly I'll start to test some sun powered ventilators, to avoid any problems.

I'll keep you posted of my results.


Cheers
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Archie
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2004, 10:50:22 PM »

H,

I bought a complete styrofoam hive this year just to see how they work.  I have a screened bottom board, two deep and two medium suppers.  I do know that you have to paint them because they seem to mold on the outside.  I drilled 3/4 inch holes in the front of each supper for ventilation.  For some reason they do not come with a inner cover.  Not needed so they say.  

I put a 3 pound package of Italian bees in the bottom deep.  I hope to be able to open the hive up tomorrow and see how they are doing.  They do drink a lot of sugar syrup.

Archie
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mattoleriver
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2004, 12:21:26 AM »

Quote
in my quest to make beekeeping easier on my back, i had been considering either A) going to 3 medium or even 4 shallow supers as brrod boxes; or, B) going to styrofoam.

I haven't had any experience with styrofoam boxes but it makes sense that they would be lighter than wooden boxes.  With that said, I think that the weight of the box itself is a minor part of the weight of the colony.  The bulk of the weight is going to be hanging in the frames and deep frames will be much heavier than medium, or shallow, frames.  By using styrofoam boxes you may save 8-10 pounds per box but by using medium boxes instead of deep boxes you may save up to 30 pounds per box.  My personal preference is to use all mediums; I have medium brood boxes, medium honey supers and medium nucs.  Now, as long as mediums don't go the way of the 8-track tape, I'm all set! Cheesy  
If you want to use deep boxes and still save weight you might want to consider 8 frame boxes instead of 10 frame boxes.  I've seen them offered by Miller Bee Supply www.Millerbeesupply.com and Brushy Mtn Bee Farm www.beeequipment.com
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eivindm
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2004, 09:40:03 AM »

Hi!

In Norway there have been a huge growth of the use of styrefoam boxes and now they are selling just as well as wooden boxes.   It is actually expected to have most of the marked in a few years as the quality has improved considerably and the reasons for not using them has become very few. There have to be noted, though, that the styrofoam that is used in Norway is of a far better quality than regular styrofoam.  It is much harder (hardest styrofoam available) and tolerates rough handling. The ones used in Norway has become popoular as it is long lasting (wood can rot, styrofoam don't), the bees winteres well in them (it's well insulated during the harsh Norwegian winters), and as they are light.  I have never heard about any complains about that they are fragile.

eivindm
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2004, 11:37:24 AM »

eivindm,

How does the cost of styrofoam boxes compare to wooden boxes in Norway?

I think they would catch on much faster in the US if they weren't more expensive than wood.

I know wood can rot, but doesn't the styrofoam deteriorate when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time?

Could you also tell us a little about the hives used in Norway?  Are they Langstroth, British Standard, other?
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eivindm
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2004, 11:55:04 AM »

hello again robo!

Just checked the prices at the largest supplier now.  The styrofoam boxes were 34% cheaper.  The wooden boxes used in Norway is insulated (due to the harsh winters) which makes them more expensive to build (many parts in the building).  The styrofoam boxes do not need any further insulation if used as brood boxes, but they are still more used as supers than brood boxes.  The styrofoam needs some paint just as the wood boxes and should last long.  Unfortunately I haven't seen any data of how many years they are expected to last, and do not have any comparisment to the wooden boxes either. But as they sell far more styrofoam boxes than wooden boxes, I assume they are quite ok.

In Norway there are only one design used, which is an own Norwegian design.   They have 10 frames and the measurements inside is 380x380x270 mm.  wooden Boxes are insulated with 25mm styrofoam.  There are also a smaller super with a height of 170mm.

eivindm
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2004, 01:39:53 PM »

I've mentioned before on other posts that I don't like these styrofoam cooler hive boxes. We have ordered QVC and Homeshopping Network frozen burgers, steaks, crabcakes and other stuff - these coolers sure do a great job ALONG with the dry-ice to keep the food frozen.

And no doubt they have great insulation properties, I just don't see the cost effectiveness of them - they aren't cheap, matter of fact - I have seen prices that exceed quality wood supers. I can't do more than imagine that they are NOT what I want in my beeyard - those of you who have them are all I have to go by and if you have owned BOTH wood and foam style (forgive mt generic use of the word foam here - it reminds me of a commercial one time where I read at the bottom "Now made with REAL PLASTIC!"

I wouldn't own them, I really don't see a WEIGHT SAVING issue - wooden supers aren't THAT heavy alone and I think you have a variety of ways to be CREATIVE in painting, staining, decorating with little faux shutters and doors, etc.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but beehives should be made out of the same trees bees used as homes for millions of years - call me crazy (Beth - don't you dare go THERE! - lol) but plastic foundation is about as un-natural as I would go - I don't like the idea of totally plastic cells even, and obviously the bees aren't too keen on them either. My only fear is moisture and humidity, if they are controlled in the hive then most everything else jives in the hives.

Whenever you need to force something on the bees, you are changing their mindset - being anal as bees are, their little minds get all jiggy with change. I think foam boxes is the LEAST of intrusions to their life-style, I think it's the beekeeper who needs to adjust to that paradygm - not the bees.
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mark
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2004, 04:34:25 PM »

if anyone happens to have chickens running loose i'd caution you to NOT get the foam hives.  i have chickens and have used a big styrofoam target for archery. for some reason the chickens liked to peck at the target. they made more of a mess of it than the arrows did.  a foam hive wouldn't last a week around chickens! cheesy

regards,
mark
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Anonymous
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« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2004, 05:28:33 AM »

Below is the link for one Danish retailer that sells Styrofoam hives, as well as wood hives and polyurethane hives.

http://www.swienty.com/engelsk/index-us.htm

If you enter in the link on the top "PDF Documents", you'll find a document called Styrofoam Hives.
There you may see that they say the hives should last about 30 years.

As I said before, I'm going to try them.

Cheers,
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beefree
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2004, 12:18:39 PM »

thanks everybody, for thoughts, advice, personal experiences.  due to your input i have decided to stick with wood (i made a deal with my husband, if he got rabbits that i could get banties...i didn't know they might peck the styrofoam to death!)  And i'll just go to mediums or even shallows to save on weight ( i want my kids to be able to help with the bees, and also to save my own back).  At least i have found this out early, before i put much $$$ into equipment that is painful or impossible or unsuitable for me to use.  Y'all are a big help!
beefree
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Finman
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2004, 12:12:03 AM »

Quote from: beefree
in my quest to make beekeeping easier on my back, i had been considering either A) going to 3 medium or even 4 shallow supers as brrod boxes; or, B) going to styrofoam. [\quote]

I have used foamed plastic boxes since 1987. They very good. They are friendly to my back. Bees develope so fast at spiring, that they bring back money during first year. I got more honey from those plastic boxes.

I have 3 langstroth box for brood  per hive and the old wooden  stuff I use as honey supers.

Condensated water drops is a little bit problem. In wooden boxes water goes into wood.

I have wooden floor and ceiling. Wood is easy to flame with gas.

But do not over react with  moisture. Bees have lived millions of years in wood holes and managed. They are not so sensitive.
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beeware184
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2004, 09:23:16 PM »

I used styrofoam hive boxes for two years.  They came with plastic frames and foundation as one unit.  The bees did well with them, but when it came to removing the frames from the styrofoam boxes, things fell apart.  

If you put any force on the frames with a hive tool, they start to break because of the weight of the honey and brood.  You have to chisel the top bar off of the hive body and that creates holes in the boxes.  The weight of the honey, and if there is any burr comb, adds added strain to the frames.  If it was the nature of beekeepers to just leave the frames alone and not check on brood, or clean up boxes, then the bees would probably go on using them.

Vent boxes and feeders work well.  These can be separated from boxes easily.  Bottom boards and tops also work fine, as long as the tops have a weight on them to keep wind from blowing them away before the bees cement them down.

Another problem was that the plastic frames are about a quarter of an inch bigger than regular deep frames, so you cannot use them in wooden ware.  All my styrofoam equipment were Dadant.  Maybe another brand would be different.

Good luck with the experiment.  I hope your experience if better than mine was. Cheesy
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