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Hive Stands And Colony Health
Elevated Hive stand with built in reservoir.
A quality Hive Stand can be worth it's price and more. Ants can and will kill a perfectly healthy colony of Bees. Hive Stands should be well thought out and can be built with options such as Work Platforms, Reservoirs which can hold oil or other liquid forming a mote to keep ants from crossing and Hive Frame Holders.
Hygiene in an apiary is now more important than ever. Colonies need to be elevated for a number of reasons. Colonies sitting directly on the ground are much more susceptible to entry from rodents as well as crawling pest. Hive Stand built from concrete blocks actually attract rodents and snakes.
Rat Feces under Concrete Block Stands
Concrete Blocks are ideal homes and hideaways for rodents such as Field Mice and Rats as can be seen in the above pictures. When the colony that was sitting on these blocks was removed the Rats nest inside the block was exposed. The problem with using such blocks is that when inspections are being done any hive equipment that comes into contact with the Rat Feces is now contaminated which could even contaminate honey being removed for extraction.
Snakes: Snakes are a real danger in any Bee Yard. It makes no difference whether if its in your back yard or in a remote out-yard where several colonies are kept. This 4'6" Long Rattle Snake was killed in one of our bee yards right at dark on 3/29/2013 in-between several colonies in our main home Queen Yard. Had our colonies been sitting on concrete blocks this guy could have been coiled up in-between them waiting for a quick rodent meal or one of us.
Bee Yard 4'6" Long Rattle Snake
- Skid Style Hive Stand W/Built in Reservoir -
Hive Stand Shown with Hive Frame Holder & Work Platform
Raised Hive Stands for Colony Health
Any beekeeper that is concerned about keeping their colony healthy knows that keeping the hive off the ground is crucial to honey production as well as colony growth and well being. An elevated hive stand can be anything from concrete blocks to a manufactured stand such as the one shown in the picture above with a built in reservoir.
Elevated Hive Stand with reservoir versus ground stand/base Testing:
In early spring of 2007 we started out with 8-3lb packages of Bees from the same supplier. Each colony was setup identical to each other with four being placed on hive stands similar to the stand pictured above and four on cement blocks. We used mineral oil in the reservoirs which prevents ants and other crawling insects from accessing the hive. As of the last inspection (Fall 2007) the four hives placed on the raised hive stands with reservoirs are by far exceeding the four hives on cement blocks in Honey Production and overall Colony growth. The colonies on the elevated hive stands produced an additional 2 supers over the Hives placed on the cement blocks. Upon inspection of the hives on cement blocks ants as well as spiders were observed inside the hives even though we treated the area on the ground around the hives to prevent ants and other insects from entering. The colonies placed on hive stands were cleaner inside and required an additional Deep to be added due to rapid colony growth.
Why Use Elevated Hive Stands?
Ants: In South Texas we constantly battle the dreaded Fire Ant and now the Raspberry Ant also known as the "Crazy Ant". Fire Ants as well as other species of ants can if left untreated can totally decimate an otherwise healthy colony of Bees.
Skunks, Mice and other pest:
Many Beekeepers do not know that pest such as Skunks can decimate an otherwise healthy hive in just a few nights. Skunks love Honey bees and will scratch at the hive entrance and chew on the Bees as they come out to investigate. Signs of a Skunk are scratch marks on the bottom board at the hive entrance. An elevated stand prevents Skunks from reaching the entrance.
Hive Stands with Built in Reservoir.
Hive Stands with built in reservoir/trough which prevents ants and other crawling insects from entering hive.
For anyone using screened bottom boards the bottom of this style of stands are open which allows mites to fall through to the ground which aids in the overall health of the colony.
Why Wooden Hive Stands should not be used:
Wooden Hive Stands are a disaster waiting to happen. As wood starts to deteriorate due to rain heat and cold and the nails or screws start to rust wood hive stands have a ten times greater chance of falling over often times resulting in killing the queen. What many beekeepers do not take into account is that wood swells up in wet conditions and contracts in dry conditions causing the hive stand become unstable and wobble. As a colony with three to four honey supers can weigh several hundred pounds. The super weight combined with the beekeeper opening the colony for inspection or adding and removing honey supers compounds the rate that a wooden hive stand deteriorates and cause personal injury to the beekeeper if the hive stand fails. Most Wood Hive stands do not have enough footing to support the weight of a healthy colony and can easily fall over when the ground becomes saturated causing damage to the brood nest as well as possibly killing the queen.
Common Misconceptions associated with hive stands W/Built in Reservoirs
1. Hive Stands W/Built in reservoirs "Do Not" prevent mites and small hive beetles from entering a hive.
2. Reservoirs "Do Not" kill healthy bees! As honey bees age and their wings become worn to the point they can no longer fly or simply due to old age or disease the colony ejects these bees from the hive dumping them over the landing board. Many times these bees will try to re-enter the colony by climbing back up the hive stand to re-enter the hive and drown in the reservoir.
3. Reservoirs only need to be checked once a season ("False"). Reservoirs require periodic checks to make sure the reservoir is functioning as it should. Reservoirs should be checked periodically to remove any dead bugs or bees as well as to re-fill the reservoir as necessary.
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