Polystyrene Beehives FAQ

 

 

Are these hives compatible with wooden British National frames?

 

Can castellated spacers be used in the supers?

 

Can mouse guards be used with these hives?

 

Are these hives compatible with wooden British National hives?

 

How does ventilation with the varroa tray work? 

 

Are these hives bottom bee space?

 

Can poly hives be marked or branded for security and to help prevent theft?

 

How were these hives designed?

 

Can the brood box be used in both warm and cold way?

 

Isn’t polystyrene just the same as packaging material?

 

Do these hives need painting?

 

How long do they last?

 

How can these hives be sterilised?

 

Do these hives get damp?

 

Why are these hives cheaper than their wooden equivalents?

 

Don’t these hives blow over in the wind?

 

Can you supply flat roofs so it can be used as a hive stand during inspections?

 

Can hives be supplied assembled?

 

Q. Are these hives compatible with wooden British National frames?

 

A. Yes they are fully compatible. The internal dimensions are the same as those of a standard national so they are fully compatible with BS super, brood and 14 x 12 frames taking 12 Hoffman or 11 standard plastic end frames. Back to the top.

 

Q. Can castellated spacers be used in the supers?

 

A. Yes a castellated spacer can be tucked in behind the frame runner and used as normal (Click here to see an example photograph). However, some designs of castellated spacer are slightly too long as they fit into a machined grove a few millimeters deep in the walls of the super, these can still be used within the polystyrene supers it will just be necessary to make a similar small cut in the polystyrene with a sharp knife, if you need more advice please call us on 07799031898 or email us at sales@beehivesupplies.co.uk. Back to the top.

 

 

Q. Can mouse guards be used with these hives?

 

A. Yes a mouse guard can be used with poly hives, however, they are used differently to on a wooden beehive. Polysytrene does not grip as wood does therefore a mouse guard cannot be pinned over the entrance it would simply work loose and fall off. Our poly hives have flat floors therefore the mouse guard is placed on the floor at the back of the entrance ramp (Click here to see an example photograph) the brood body is placed over the floor and the walls hold the mouse guard in position (Click here to see an example photograph). Back to the top.

 

Q. Are these hives compatible with wooden British National hives?

 

A. Yes, but please note to increase the insulation and durability of these hives the walls are thicker than those of a wooden hive so the external dimensions are 500mm x 500mm / 19.6" x 19.6" (wooden hives are typically 460mm x 460mm / 18.1" x 18.1"). The top and bottom face of each lift is flat which means that wooden sections can be used within a polysytrene hive (Click here to see an example photograph). Equally the polystyrene sections can also be used within a wooden national hive but, due to the increased external dimensions, polystyrene sections may not fit under a wooden national lid please check the internal dimensions of your lid before purchasing. However, with a fully insulated waterproof roof being so cheap in polystyrene why not buy a new roof too? Check out our roof and open mesh floor bundle. Back to the top.

 

Q. How does ventilation with the varroa tray work?

 

A. Poly hives are ventilated from the bottom via the mesh floor, as the polysytrene is waterproof it does not need a continual through draft as is needed in a wooden hive (via the top vents in a wooden roof).  Therefore to ensure the poly hives are properly ventilated the varroa tray should be left out all year, except for when it is actually being used for mite monitoring.  The only other time that the varroa tray should be left in place is when hiving a swarm or for a bait hive.  In these cases the tray should be removed as soon as the swarm has started to lay brood in the hive. Back to the top.

 

Q. Are these hives bottom bee space?

 

A. Yes, the bee space in both super and brood chambers is at the bottom. Back to the top.

 

Q. Can poly hives be marked or branded for security and to help prevent theft?

 

A. Yes, poly hives can be marked to help prevent theft, by branding, painting or engraving.  They can be painted with your own marking, or a solvent based permanent marker pen can be used to mark the polystyrene, the solvent will help the ink penetrate surface of the polystyrene making it more obvious if the marking has removed.  Alternatively marking or lettering can be cut into the polystyrene with a router or small hand held multi tool such as a Dremel.  Finally if you own a branding iron which shaped into your own unique brand this can be very effectively used to mark the polystyrene in the same way as a wooden hive.  Heat the iron as normal and allow it to cool for around a minute, then press lightly onto the surface of the polystyrene, this will melt the bead on the surface.  The brand must not be left on the polystyrene for too long or be used when it is too hot or it will melt the polystyrene too much making the brand unrecognisable.  The branding can also be overpainted to further improve the marking (Click here to see an example photograph). Back to the top.

 

Q. How were these hives designed?

 

A. The design of these hives was undertaken by beekeepers in Britain for beekeepers to use in Britain. When designing polystyrene hives the walls need to be thicker to provide the same strength and durability, therefore the choice is to make the outside the same size as a wooden hive and severely restrict the space available for the bees giving them only 9 or 10 brood frames, or to keep the inside the same and allow the bees to have a full sized British National beehive with 11 or 12 brood frames. Bees in polystyrene beehives often have a longer season and a larger brood nest therefore our design of beehive has a full sized brood box taking 11 or 12 Hoffman frames. The successful polystyrene beehive designs used in Europe for decades have maintained the internal dimensions the same as their wooden equivalents but have slightly larger outside dimensions. Full details of the design process for these beehives can be found here Design Concepts for British National Hives. Back to the top.

 

Q. Can the brood box be used in both warm and cold way?

 

A. Yes the brood box can be used in both orientations, the internal dimensions of the beehives are exactly the same as wooden hives and can therefore be used in the same manner. Back to the top..

 

 

 

Q. Isn’t polystyrene just the same as packaging material?

 

A. No, these beehives are made from material that is ten to fifteen times as dense as packing material, they are more like the lining of a motorcycle helmet than TV packaging. Some polystyrene hives currently on the market are simply cut from sheet insulation, this material is not suitable and will not last if used as a beehive. Back to the top.

 

Q. Do these hives need painting?

 

A. No, these hives do not need painting they will last perfectly well and be entirely waterproof without any paint or covering. However, with time the polystyrene will discolour slightly to an off white/yellow. Therefore for cosmetic reasons and to keep the hive looking good, many people choose to paint their poly hives. The painting can be anything from "garden shades" of green or brown (Click here to see an example photograph) to blend into the background or for the more artisticly inclined they can be brightly decorated or each lift painted a different colour to make the hive stand out. They can be painted with exterior water based paint and the majority of people use masonry paint, it is advisable to paint a small test are first. Solvent based paint must not be used as it will react with the polystyrene. Back to the top.

 

Q. How long do they last?

 

A. Polystyrene hives do not rot, get wood worm or need preserving to keeping in good condition. They have been used on the continent and in a few locations in the UK for many years, some of these hive are still perfectly serviceable after 30 years. Back to the top.

 

Q. How can these hives be sterilised?

 

A. Polystyrene hives can be easily and effectively sterilised, they can be soaked and scrubbed clean with washing soda, which removes propolis, wax, honey etc. Once clean they can be sterilised with any proprietary sterilising solution such as Virkon or household bleach, this can then be rinsed clean before re-use. Full details are available from the National Bee Unit publication "Plastic Hives". Polystyrene obviously cannot be flame sterilised as it would melt, but the effectiveness of flame sterilisation, particularly the joints is questionable unless the interior of the hive is very well charred which many beekeepers are unwilling to do. Back to the top.

 

Q. Do these hives get damp?

 

A. No, the polystyrene is waterproof so rain will not permeate the walls and make the interior of the hive damp as it does with wooden walls. Any moisture generated inside will condense on the walls and run out of the open mesh floor. With a wooden hive condensation and rain will soak into the walls keeping the damp within the hive. Back to the top.

 

Q. Why are these hives cheaper than wooden equivalents?

 

A. These hives are moulded exclusively for us and for the UK market, they are not imported from a continental supplier and there is no middleman to pay. To finish the hives from the moulded product, ready for use and dispatch is relatively quick, therefore these can be significantly cheaper than a wooden hive that has a complex manufacturing process and expensive raw material. Back to the top.

 

Q. Don’t these hives blow over in the wind?

 

A. The polystyrene is only slightly lighter than wood, so in the wind it performs in a fairly similar manner. However, to make sure that in high winds the roof is not blown off all hives are supplied with a hive strap as standard. Back to the top.

 

Q. Can you supply flat roofs so it can be used as a hive stand during inspections?

 

A. The gable roof provides better insulation and allows the rain to run off easily. It has been designed with supports front and back to enable the roof to be turned upside down and remain level allowing the lifts to be stacked on the roof while they are removed. This also allows the hives to be stacked on top of each other if during transport. Back to the top.

 

Q. Can hives be supplied assembled?

 

A. Assembling these hives is very quick requiring only some glue and then pushing the sections together taking only a few minutes. There are no nails, pins or screws so they are all supplied flat pack with the appropriate glue and full assembly instructions (please click to view). Back to the top.

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