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Valkyrie Long Hive Discussion Page

This is a place for questions and answers about long hives, specifically the Valkyrie long hive. Also, if you have photos of your hives, I can post there here as well.

I always wanted a purple hive. This was my chance! © Rusty Burlew.
Carol Schlaefer’s hives.

Comments

Carol, Snohomish Wa
Reply

I just acquired a Valkyrie long hive. I am painting it today.

This is my 2nd year as a beek, still very new…but did manage to overwinter both my hives (whew).
I am 60, and the boxes are too heavy. Hence the long hive.

Vivien had lots of information. She was great. Really great.

I do need to know…since I am so new…I’ve been running with plastic foundation. I’m not really ready to go foundation-less….I am hoping to split one of my very strong hives into the long hive.

So how do I set up the long hive?…..black plastic in the brood box area ie 1 thru 17ish…….. including on the right a couple frames of black foundation with honey/pollen/nectar…..
Then for the honey… do I put in deep frames with white plastic? as used in the medium supers for honey….? so I can be sure not to harvest/reuse brood stuff? I am very confused about this.

Thanks,

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Naomi? How do you do you arrange your frames?

Linda
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I set up my two Valkyrie hives with a split from my over wintered surviving hive.
I love these hives. I don’t need any help lifting anything, it’s amazing. The inner canvas cover keeps them calm during inspections, they are already over to slot 18 full of honey. I keep putting new frames in front of #3 and #9 frame. I had two observation windows installed. It is amazing to be able watch our precious girls hard at work.
I hope we get more posts about these hives. I’d like to connect with other Valkyrie users. Linda Grinde

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

I agree. It is easy to lift the lid and check on things, and the canvas keeps them calm.

Linda
Reply

One question I have is where in the hive are you placing the inframe feeder, and are you getting a lot of drownings in the feeder?

Rusty
Reply

Hi Linda,

I haven’t used a feeder in the Valkyrie yet.

Carol/Snohomish/Wa
Reply

Linda,

What do you mean “in front of” frames 3 and 9? Does that mean to the right?

C

Carol Schlaefer/Snohomish Wa
Reply

How do I send picture?

Naomi Price
Reply

Carol,

Black plastic foundation on deep frames can be used in the brood area. The white foundation on deep frames can be used in the honey surplus section. The brood area usually consumes frames 1 through 12 and up to 18, depending on the race of honey bee.

My selected option is foundationless frames. I figured out that wedge-top Langstroth frames have a built-in starter strip. Pop off the wedge strip and glue it back onto its top bar, rather than nailing it to hold prepared foundation. For me, foundationless frames work without the cross combing, provided the top bar is aligned magnetic north and south. No division/follower board is necessary. Fill the long hive completely with frames (empty, w/foundation or drawn) from the get go.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Rusty:

I use a feeder, (but not for much longer), cause my colony was stressed and very active when it came to me. It’s a regular boardman feeder, placed inside the Valkyrie in the space where frame #’s 18-22 would be. I keep frames #23 and #24 on the far right just to hold up my canvas and the Triple-Layer Wool blanket that I use. I’m not using a frame feeder nor am I putting any feeding stuff near the bee entrance so that I don’t attract robbers (thank you, Naomi!).

I’ll be removing the feeder in the future but not sure exactly when– I’ll ask Naomi!

Thanks for this site! Vivien

Granny Roberta in nw CT
Reply

I’m only writing a comment so I can subscribe to the comment thread.

My long hives are Langstroth 20-frame double-wides, not Valkyries. I could try to send pictures, but my camera is a tablet, not even a phone, and my photography skills are just barely good enough for friends and family.

Carol, Snohomish Wa
Reply

I just made my first split ever…I did about 50/50 from my very full overwintered Langstroth hive into my new Valkyrie.

Despite a lot of looking I could not find the queen…there were SO many bees in there…but there were multiple frames of capped/uncapped and eggs and very young larvae available to choose from. There were no swarm cells yet, but multiple cups on the bottom of the frames. I shook a LOT of nurse bees to the long hive too.

I’ll go back in to look for eggs and/or queen cells in a few days.

I’ve been very anxious about doing a split…now I’ve got my fingers crossed the bees figure it out.

I had to have my neighbor and associate bee geek come over to help, as the honey supers are so heavy and just thinking of having to manipulate all the boxes is enough to make me put off going into the hives. I can tell already the long hive is going to be much easier to deal with.

My neighbor is drooling. She wants!!

Carol

Carol, Snohomish Wa
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Hi Rusty,

Here are my hives, the long hive having just been leveled and set in place (hence the tractor).

I needed to do a split, so I didn’t get to take the time to paint it up like I wanted, but my 21 yr old daughter has suggested she cold do a mural, we will see (20 yr olds being who they are).

I did do my very first split today from my strongest hive. I could not find the queen but had lots of frames with eggs and young brood to choose from. No swarm cells, which I was expecting. I also found brood in the lowest honey super, a lot. That may be why I missed finding her!! I was expecting her in the brood boxes.

As advised by many people, I shook more nurse bees than I thought necessary. So the bees in the honey supers hanging out are they typically foragers? Or nurse bees?

After hefting around all those boxes today (we did my friends hives too) I am hoping the long hives perform. They certainly already seem easier.

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

Thanks for the photo. If you every get a bigger one, send that along was well.

As for bees in honey supers, they are workers but not foragers or nurses. Some folks call them “receivers” because they receive the nectar from the foragers and place it in the cells.

Granny Roberta in nw Connecticut USA
Reply

Apparently I failed at the comments subscription, so here I go again. Feel free to delete this comment, unless it might help others feel better about their technological screwups.

Carol Schlaefer
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Hello again. I’m hoping for more responders to this thread…:)

Have the receivers in the supers flown and oriented? I shook a lot of super bees into my split (easy to get to)just wondering if they will fly-back as the foragers will.

And as winter is coming I’m assuming I lay sugar cakes and eventually pollen on top of the bars as usual and drape the canvas over top?

And then with my 4-day-old split into a new long hive, I couldn’t find the queen when the split was done. So I was in looking today. I found multiple (15+) emergency cells all charged with larvae (fast girls).

I dropped everything and ran to the local bee place and got a queen as I didn’t want to wait the three weeks for a new one (blackberries are coming). And I now know where the original queen is…not in the split!!

But rather than lifting off a few boxes, (look at frames) then lifting all those boxes back on. (Run to town) then lift them off again (install queen) then put them back ON again…(done).

I lifted a lid twice and rolled up a canvas, Ha! the smoker was even still going when I got back from town! I think I’m going to be a walking advertisement for Langstroth compatible long hives. Can I get paid

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

It sometimes takes a while to get attention to a new thread like this. I will try to promote it more, and see if that helps.

I don’t know where to put winter patties and feed. Like you, I’m totally new to this.

Granny Roberta in nw Connecticut USA
Reply

I still wasn’t getting the emails about new comments, but I finally noticed that I have been checking the “notify me of new posts” box. The “notify me of follow-up comments” option is completely missing. Is that just me?

Rusty
Reply

Roberta,

I’m learning here, too. I set up this discussion as a page rather than a post. The reason being, I wanted to me able to put it on the drip-down menus. Turns out, pages don’t have the same notification options as posts. Who knew? So, I may change it to a post, but I’m not sure yet. Anyway, not your fault.

Granny Roberta in nw Connecticut USA
Reply

Oh thank goodness it’s not me. Also, here, have armsful of sympathy. Wouldn’t the internet be a wonderful thing if it would just do what we want instead of what it thinks we ought to want. You could then just take all your various mentions (and our various comments) of how the site isn’t doing what you/we want, and put them on their own post/page, instead of clogging up the bee stuff.

Dori, Whidbey Island, WA
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So, so happy to find this thread, and I’ve bookmarked it. I’m a brand new beekeeper using a 31 frame long Lang. We installed a 5 frame nuc on May 2, so am in a steeeeeep learning curve at the moment, but all appears well at this point. Fortunately, my husband and I joined our local club. Most members use traditional Langs, there are a few top bar keepers, and I think we are the only ones with a long hive. Will be checking in here frequently. : )

Carol near Snohomish
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My long hive was being robbed. I have sent Rusty pics of my 4 minute and 20 minute assembly time, home made robber screens I threw together….the 4 minute one worked about that long… (well…an afternoon actually). The 20 min one seems to be working.

Vivien Hight
Reply

I thought my hive was being robbed also!! So Scary!

Naomi, Larry and I split my first hive the day after I delivered Carol’s Valkyrie to her. Left the girls alone (not that I knew how to do otherwise,) to let the new queen do her thing. About 8 days later I described to Naomi what we both felt was certainly robbing activity, so I took away the feeders from both the Valkyries and covered them with wet sheets during the day to confuse the robbers.

On Naomi’s advice, I screwed up my courage to do a double inspection, looking carefully for ragged, torn cells on the frames which Naomi assured me couldn’t be mistaken. Here’s the mystery: NO DAMAGE at all in either Valkyrie, AND, in the new colony– voila! a new queen happily going about her business. Sooo…. I’ll look in on both colonies on Saturday. It seems that what I mistook in my neophyte-ness was a “feeding frenzy”?? Another beekeeper just a mile from me was going through the same thing: bees flying like fighter-pilots in large numbers due to an overwhelming nectar flow… like I knew that. :’)

Carol, let me know how yours are doing, ok?

Vivien

Carol, Snohomish Wa
Reply

Hi,

When I pulled the bottom board a few days ago there was torn ragged comb pieces all over the place and the frames of nectar/pollen I had added with the split were empty and ragged.

I did the split on 5/21, found emergency queen cells on 5/24 and introduced a mated marked queen on 5/24 too, after destroying all the emergency cells. The queen cage was empty and I removed it on 5/27. Then the robbing began. I do have syrup in there.

I looked for eggs or the queen after seeing all the damage on 5/29…..couldn’t find her or eggs. I’m debating going back in to look for her again today. I hate I’ve been in there so much, but if she isn’t laying after 8 days, is she likely dead and gone?

There are still nurse bees and some capped brood, debating getting a frame more of capped brood from another hive to add. I’m thinking I should have just let them raise a queen. I’m not saving much time or money doing it this way!!!

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Carol

Carol, Snohomish Wa
Reply

Good news, the robber screen seems to be working well.

I got into the long hive and found eggs….yay! The queen survived.

So I got into one of the other hives and got a frame with both sides solid with capped brood and added it to the long hive, which still has a lot of nurse bees to cover it. Added a piece of pollen patty too.

Hopefully its all good for a bit now.

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

I don’t know why she took so long to lay, although a newly-mated queen sometimes gets off to a slow start—maybe just a few eggs the first day, and then a few more. It sounds like you’ve got the problem cleared up.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Carol and Rusty!

My new queen got off to a very slow start also, so Carol, I can relate: I was so hesitant to look inside again. The older queen (inside the “Endurance” Valkyrie) is faring quite well, but, the new queen (in “Hope” Valkyrie), did indeed take a bit longer to get it together even though I’ve spied her more than once trucking around happily with her red dot.

The weather here has been so darned un-seasonally cold and VERY windy so I’ve put back in the feeder to help the new queen along. I’ll check her tomorrow for capped brood, etc. I’ve been doing whole-colony powdered sugar dustings on each colony and have a mite count down to 1-3, that’s another thing I’ll be doing tomorrow as well. The dusting (and even the rolling) sugar process is SO EASY with only the lid to lift and blankets to roll out of the way, too cool.

So sorry, Carol, to hear of the robbers: dirty rats! Hope all goes better!
Sincerely, V

Dori, Whidbey Island, WA
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Oh boy, now what do we new beeks do? We installed a 5 frame nuc into our new horizontal lang on May 2. The bees were very reluctant to build on new foundation, but the queen kept laying, and although spotty pattern, the population built up. Late last week, just as the Himalayan blackberries started blooming, activity out front picked up dramatically. We went in and did a complete inspection yesterday. Found the queen. Again noted no new brood frames, frames absolutely packed with bees, swarm cells on bottom of three frames, one frame being drawn for honey and partially full. I said I was concerned that with no expansion of the brood area, and the high population, the girls were going to swarm. Sometime today they did just that.

Went back in to quickly check. Population dropped by at least 1/3. No queen found. Larvae in at least two of those swarm cells. Still some eggs, larvae, and plenty of capped brood. Now into our main honey flow, do I order and overnight a queen, or let them requeen?

Rusty
Reply

Dori,

That’s a judgement call. If it were me, I’d let them requeen themselves because I prefer locally adapted queens. The workers will keep bringing in nectar during the time the queen is maturing and mating. Everything you describe sounds normal, so I wouldn’t worry.

Dori
Reply

Thanks so much, Rusty. That’s what we’ll do. When I walked by this morning, the activity at the hive was so much calmer and pleasant. A nice steady hummmming, instead of the near roar we heard for a few days. Learning curve is fun, but steep! 🙂

Carol /Snohomish Wa
Reply

Ok all you Valkyrie owners…

My Valkyrie has a new split of about a month or so. There are lots of eggs and open brood, some capped brood and some new white drawn comb, so the split is beginning to come along. I put in about 5 frames of drawn comb and bees when I did the split. I am still feeding 1:1 syrup which they are still going through fairly quickly.

My question… yesterday I peeked in the observation window on the right to check the syrup level, and the window was covered with condensation. (The syrup was empty.)

I opened the left window and it was dry.

Seems to be a ventilation issue going on?

Rusty in your picture of your purple hive I see you added a screened hole near the peak of the lid….Have you seen moisture accumulation? I think if its a problem now its gong to be very wet in the winter!!

I opened the bottom board halfway on that side to help dry it out, but was a bit concerned about drawing robbers to the scent of the syrup so close to the bottom screen.

I was advised to leave the wool over the canvas all the time for insulation against heat as well as cold, but now I’m wondering if this is not good.

I’d appreciate any comments!

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

Good question. Because I firmly believe all beekeeping is local, I took the radical step of putting attic ventilation in my Valkyrie. The way I see it, the hive was designed for the desert, but I live at the edge of a rain forest. I didn’t add the holes right away, but two weeks after installing a split, the canvas cover was drenched in condensation. And you are correct, the window was fogging as well.

I never fed my split, figuring there was plenty of forage out there, so I know the condensation was not from a feeder. The colony, though, exploded in size after I installed them. They obviously feel at home in the Valkyrie, but I couldn’t leave them with a dripping canvas. Within a day of drilling the holes, the canvas cover dried completely. Problem solved. The holes were cut with a hole saw and covered on the inside with 1/8-inch wire mesh. I have plugs, too, color-coordinated in purple. It takes less than a minute to close the vents, if that’s what I want. My hive is mostly in shade, so it dries out less quickly than one in the sun, so that will make a difference, too.

I can tell you the split I put in there has filled the hive end-to-end. The bees certainly seem happy in it.

Also, I don’t have a wool blanket. I will get one before winter, but for now I’m going without, so I can’t give you any feedback on that.

Carol /Snohomish
Reply

Rusty,

So you drilled with the bees in there? I was wondering if I could get away with that!

I was trying to figure out if the feeder was the source of the moisture, the fact that the other window was dry, at the other end of the hive… makes me think the feeder might be part of the problem….my canvas has not been wet at all. My spilt got slowed by robbers but seems to have recovered.

Hmm…drill …..and staple gun go into the next equipment cart I guess…definitely will veil up for that!!

Carol

Carol/Snohomish Wa
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No you idiot. (me)…So I’m lying in bed thinking bees and it comes to me…duh…unscrew the hinges and take the lid OFF…simple as that…

I now have ventilation.

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

That sounds kinda drastic, no?

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi everyone!

A Valkyrie owner on the east coast ran into moisture problems caused by two feeders in one Valkyrie. Moisture dripping and condensation. The feeders were removed, we replaced her canvas cover (which had mildew) and also sent the 3-layer blanket as well. So far, problem solved. The hive is in an orchard with lots of sprinklers, but since her exterior finish was shedding the water just fine, it wasn’t the sprinklers.

Carol, I don’t recommend removing the lid at all mainly because it could really increase the chances of robbing from your hive (wouldn’t you think so as well, Rusty?). You run the risk of losing a lot of heat from the girls in comprising the intended function of the Valkyrie lid, and your brood may get too cold even with both the canvas and the 3 layer blanket. Remember, we warranty the lid (if it remains unaltered) for two full years.

Both colonies (mine) are doing great and we’ve had one of the coldest and wettest June’s I’ve seen in about 5 years— too much rain for my taste, but still, no problems with condensation.

Let me ask Naomi to weigh in on this…

Thanks, ladies, be right back! ❤ Vivien

Rusty
Reply

Hi Vivien,

Yes, I believe that removing the roof could lead to robbing, rain entry, and early-morning dew problems, even with the canvas and blankets in place. Also predators such as wasps, mice, raccoons, and opossums could easily enter the hive.

Carol/snohomish
Reply

I took the lid off to drill it….then replaced it. It was off for all of 15 minutes and then screwed back on. I just didn’t want to drill with it on the hive and totally piss off the bees. Which Im glad I did as the bit was more dull thanI expected and the wood more hard..
I apologize that came across so differently.
I did NOT just take off the top!!
C

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

That is so funny! And so logical! I don’t know why I completely misunderstood. Sorry about that.

Naomi Price
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Bee stewards have a plethora of options to manage a honey bee colony. Many options in our tool kit may not be in the best interest of the colony, e.g., anthropomorphism. The Valhalla long hive, now the Valkyrie, was designed with the needs of a colony and not for any particular climate. I could not offer an engineer’s explanation for how this long hive functioned, just that the colony responded favorably through the seasons and over years.

In part, an engineer has weighed in on the discussion of humidity and condensation within a bee hive, albeit for wintering, it has shown me to be applicable year round. Please refer to Derek Mitchell’s article in the August 2017 American Bee Journal, “Honey Bee Engineering: Top Ventilation and Top Entrances.” Mitchell included excellent visuals to explain his findings. I will paraphrase from his article.

Research that started in 2011 was finally published settling the 100 year debate about hive ventilation. Derek Mitchell has a masters in engineering with a physics background. He repeated a long standing experiment from 1943. Mitchell took 2.3 million temperature measurements from 12 hives representative of 8 different styles. Conclusion: Colonies benefit from top insulation with only a bottom entrance. If you don’t insulate a hive, then it doesn’t matter how many vent holes, because the inside temperature will always be on the cool side: cool pool will be deeper and warm pool will be shallow.

Mitchell was asked by the ABJ editor about concern with not allowing warm, moist air to escape through a top vent hole, he answered: “This is all gone through in detail in my research article (1). The condition of cold condensation raining down on the bees only occurs in hives with high heat loss. Moist air is possible without condensation if the hive is insulated so that the surfaces above the bees are above the dew point. Numerous researchers show that the honey bees do best in a relative humidity of 75% plus at temperatures above 26C (2) including your frequent contributor Jamie Ellis.”
—————————————
The Valkyrie long hive considered that brood food is 70% water. Why would a colony not utilize the collection of moisture from their hive’s interior? A fogging viewing window is probably a result of 75% RH, the colony’s preference. Many of our skewed decisions about the hive’s interior would be dissolved by studying tree hives; I know it opened my eyes for the betterment of my managed colonies.

Carol/Snohomish
Reply

Well, I was all ready to be greatly insulted until I reread my post…..there WAS a bit of a leap there…
Stream of consciousness writing….I do it all the time and just assume people will get it.
C

Naomi Price
Reply

Hi Carol and other long hive beekeepers,

I am not an eloquent writer, nor—by choice—tech savy. My comments just happened to land at the bottom of all conversations without malicious intent to offend. Seldom do I write about the many lessons I have learned managing my apiaries and visiting numerous others. My apologies to all.

Naomi

Rusty
Reply

Naomi,

No offense taken by me, but I see anthropomorphism as a tool for both teaching and learning. I use it frequently as I did last week when I wrote, “I hate to anthropomorphize but….” Aesop was famous for using anthropomorphism as a literary device, as was Homer, Kipling, EB White, JK Rowling, and George Orwell.

A literature professor once explained to me that anthropomorphic statements are so clearly fiction that they have the power to expose greater truth. Since we allow our fictional minds greater freedom than our analytical minds, anthropomorphism allows us to make connections we might not otherwise make. The fiction allows us to overcome prejudices and preconceived ideas.

I can understand why someone might not like anthropomorphism, but for me it is an essential part of writing. And if my fictional wanderings bring an iota of understanding to someone, or if they bring a smile to an unknown reader, then I have met my goal.

Carol/Snohomish
Reply

Hey well.
I am a second year bee keeper, don’t know much. I am very pleased that Naomi has such a wide path of knowledge to share. I don’t think she writes badly at all. As opposed to my wandering consiousness. I want to see more of her thoughts here.
BUT IDK…Im seeing different things.
I must comment that since drilling the holes…and removing the wool….the bees have been more vigorous?
I did have a wet canvas…dripping!.. before I drilled ventilation, I removed the feeder also…
This was a split..so the timing may just be that drilling etc coincided with the hive starting to have workers start emerging en mass.
I believe Rusty mentioned that her hive took off after the vent holes were placed….?
I intend to replace the wool as winter approaches and hope it will function much like a moisture quilt.
I love this hive…so easy….Im trying to figure out how to convert the other hives to long ones…$$$$

Carol Schlaefer
Reply

Can anyone tell me if they have used OA on this Valkyrie or any other long hive..
Has it been effective…since the vapor needs to travel laterally..instead of straight up…..Should I vap both sides?
August is amazingly fast approaching and I will need to treat.
C

Carol//snohomish
Reply

I am ready to treat my ‘new this spring from a split’ long hive with OA vap. I’m going to drop the canvas down alongside the last active frame…they have about 8 frames full and the rest are empty. I am going to treat as for a one deep brood Langstroth.

I am just semi-educated guessing on this…can anyone with long hives comment on how they have done it? I’m expecting 3-4 treatments at 4-5 day intervals. Following up with an alcohol wash and also counting mite board drops since I have the time and its fun and educational to watch.

Carol

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Carol!

I’m in contact with other Valkyrie owners in New York State and Georgia. In addition to myself and my two Valkyries, we’re all seeing mite counts of less than five using a total colony powdered sugar method. I clean the left bottom board completely, dust the entire colony with powdered sugar, (I use the hive brush to “wipe” the sugar from the top bars down into the spaces between the frames,) and then wait 10-15 min to collect all of the stuff that falls to the bottom board. I’ll use a plastic container to get all of the sugar, add some water to dissolve it, then pour it through a coffee filter. When it’s drained, I count the little devils. So far, less than three is the count since May. NY and GA both concur with similar reports.

Naomi had educated me (again, forever…) that in humidity levels above 80% the Varroa devils have a harder time reproducing, It was humidity, right Naomi? Since NY, GA and I are each using the 3-layer wool blanket, I’m hoping that’s the reason? Let me qualify that: I don’t have any scientific study to back that up, but, I like the way it sounds…

I need to follow up with a rolling sugar test: half-cup of bees in two processes, timed, and then I can compare the two mite counts.

I’ll be back as soon as I can with really high heat temps and the bearding behavior of my colonies here in Central Oregon—very strange and wonderful.

V

Vivien Hight
Reply

About the Oxalic Acid Vapor:

A Valkyrie owner says he really appreciates the bottom drawer underneath the screen drawer in the Valkyrie because he says that the vapor still travels throughout the hive, but, the bees can’t get near or touch the acid strips themselves? He places the stuff directly on the bottom drawer, I would assume on the left side… I’ll have to ask him.

Not having used OA, I have no reference point, but Mark seems really pleased! V

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Valkyrie owners! Here’s my latest…
Let’s talk plastic foundation: I never knew that the foundation sold has a triangle “punch-out” on the lower corner. Never knew that the beekeeper is supposed to remove it so that the ladies have a “hiking path” to travel within the frames during the Winter/Spring to access food stores (either their own, or those provided by the beekeeper). I’m sending a picture sent to me by Valkyrie owner Ms. Vorbach of New York State. Never knew that the cold-weather cluster could expand or contract as needed from softball to football size. Thank you, Naomi for the education– as usual!

Paraphrasing from Naomi: “Clustering is a difficult concept for us to understand when we don’t usually get to see it on the frames. A swarm cluster is what we usually picture in our minds, in contrast with a housed colony clustering on frames. I hope the thermal images help with the visualization. The colony does cluster in a long hive, it just can be more horizontal than vertical as in a vertical hive, e.g. Warré or Langstroth.

The cluster travels from frame to frame (if necessary) around the sides of frames (there is bee space, check it out), travel ports (they make their own on foundationless or popped corners in foundation), and via burr comb between frames in vertical boxes.

Bee space of 3/8” allows the girls to travel 2 at a time…as a group.”

I’m going to do this myself for each of my Valkyrie Long Hives: I’ll be testing each frame for plastic foundation. One way to tell is that the foundation will predominantly be worker-sized cells. You can purchase foundation made up of drone-sized cells, of course, but those are green (as opposed to yellow?). I’ll use a screw-driver to gently push on the upper corner of the frame and if I can push it through; if it gives, then it’s truly bee-created wax, which they can easily create their own “hiking path” upon. When I find a frame with plastic foundation, I’ll move it into position #2 or #3, closest to the entrance. Naomi said that the cluster is more often moving to the right looking for more food during the cold weather “shut down” rather than towards the entrance, if I’ve remembered it correctly. Now, my colonies each have maybe one frame of plastic foundation that I can easily see, but, if I had more than one, how I should create a “pathway” for the girls along the upper corner (either right or left,) or along the top bar– I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that one.

The mysterious (and hitherto almost unknown) plastic triangle is most often located on a bottom corner of the frame. This isn’t very nice to the bees in that it forces them to move downward where all of the colder air is hovering, as they search of food. The answer (in a NEW AND UNUSED frame with foundation) is to remove the triangle, slide the foundation out of the frame and flip it so that the empty space is at the TOP bar rather than the bottom, slide it back into place and reconnect the top bar. Voila! ready to go. In my colonies, I need to point out, I won’t be using any foundation at all: that’s my preference. As soon as I can remove the foundation-ed frames, I will.

Here’s the scary part: can you just imagine HOW MANY BEEKEEPERS LOST AN ENTIRE COLONY over the winter and never knew that maybe it was because the cluster had no “pathway” through which to gain access to the food??? How many beekeepers, not knowing about the plastic triangle, lovingly placed more than enough food to keep the ladies happy through the Winter and Spring and yet, the bees never actually ate it? Sad.

On an aside: in the Valkyrie, the cold air is sumped downward into the extra space below the bottom bar and above the slatted area, which makes it much easier for the girls to avoid the cold. Could the ladies walk down the frame and across the bottom bar then back up to where the food is? Yes, but, why would they? It’s too cold. They’ll want to stay up where the warmest air is, right?

Rusty, if you’ve any suggestions for creating a pathway in an already occupied frame that can’t be moved to the #2 or #3 position, please let me know!

Ride on, ye Valkyries!

Vivien

Vivien Hight
Reply

Let’s talk cold-weather warmth and the Valkyrie.

On my smaller colony, “Elpis” (Hope), I’ve started supplementing with sugar syrup 1:1. I’ve colored it blue/green so I can easily see the difference on the frames between what the ladies gathered and what I’ve provided. Because this colony is so small, I’ll be removing frame #’s 11-24 and putting inside a blocker board (frame #10 as it were,) and a stack of blankets in the empty space to the right. I’ve been wanting to see an “upside-down horseshoe” of stored honey on at least 5 frames, and the girls are really trying, but the stores aren’t there yet and we’re on a fast clip to September 1st. I’ll leave any honey present for her to use during Winter/Spring.

(Rusty, I’ve sent you some heat-sensor photos– FLIR camera– from Naomi that show a horizontal layout of the Winter cluster within two different Valkyries that she owns. Very interesting!)

Because I’ll have the inner canvas cover as well as the Triple-Layer Blanket, I believe that Hope will stay warmer and use less energy keeping themselves warm and may not need tremendous amounts of food. I’ll be putting food on top of the top bars in cake/slab form (again, because she’s so small)– pictures to follow soon. Because the colder air will be sinking way down to the slatted/drawer “sump” area, further away from the cluster, it seems that this will be another benefit which eases the workload on the ladies. Cold air trying to enter the Valkyrie from snow underneath the hive will be abated by the insulation slab, and the awning above the entrance will help keep snow/ice/rain from entering the hive. I’ll snug down the entrance slide to 1 bee width.

“Hypomone” (Endurance) is another matter. She’s fat. And big. And has the “honey horseshoe”(sometimes 2-3 inches thickness,) on frame #s 7-12 and on #3 and 4. And she’s fat. Quite pleased with herself, in fact. Her, I’ll leave alone: not gonna touch any of the honey, she gets it all. I won’t be putting any food on the top bars– leap of faith, right? After making sure that any plastic foundation has a “pathway” I’ll leave the canvas and Triple Layer just where they are. I’ll snug down the entrance door slide to 1 bee-width, and there you have it. May the fat lady sing all through the Winter and Spring!

Glad for any feedback you may have, fondly, Vivien

Carol Schlaefer/snohomish
Reply

My long hive has stored no honey. It was a hefty split this spring, bolstered with extra brood early on. I built a robber screen for the hive in late June and it has been in place all summer. They increased frames over the summer.

There are now perhaps 7 frames full of bees, but in August they had no honey, and only a small amount of nectar. Queen and brood were present.

My two other traditional hives gave me 13 gallons in honey supers, plus filled their brood boxes.

I treated for varroa in mid August. I began 2:1 syrup in early September. October 5th I inspected and now they have a ton of nectar….on every frame, no capped honey.

Is this nectar too late? Can they get it converted it to capped honey this late in the year? Or alternately, can they use nectar for food in the winter?

Carol

Rusty
Reply

Carol,

It sounds like they stored all that syrup, so most likely it’s just syrup and not nectar that you are seeing. They may cap some of it before winter, or not. But it doesn’t really matter. They can eat it just the same.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Good morning, Rusty:

Here’s an update: I chose not to put any food at all on the top bars of the frames in my Valkyries. Instead I’ve put two SockerMats in each colony: one near the entrance to the left of the brood area, and one to the right of their honey stores; the reasoning being that I’d like the girls to eat their own honey before they access the SockerMat.

My colonies, being the “guinea pigs” have SockerMats that vary in composition: one frame each of 100% granulated sugar, 50-50% granulated:superfine sugar, 100% superfine sugar, and 30% superfine:70% granulated. Since each Valkyrie got only two SockerMats, it’ll be interesting to see if the bees had a preference of one recipe over the other. I used the 1/8″ wire mesh for each frame, not plastic foundation, and each SockerMat weighs about 6 lbs. This equals about 12 lbs food plus the honey and nectar/syrup that the bees had stored-up themselves.

I’m not wrapping the exterior of the Valkyries in anything; simply putting straw bales near the NW corners to block the worst of the harsh winds and snow that come galloping across the acreage. The Inner canvas has been thickly propolized to seal in heat, and the Triple-Layer Wool Blankets that lie on the canvas are tucked into place.

Spring should be interesting for us, and I’ll keep you posted.

Vivien

Vivien Hight
Reply

Here’s another update:

The Endurance colony was in far too much shade (quel horreur!); night-time temps were in the low 20’s, so I had to do an emergency move. In the Spring, when I had placed the hive, there was plenty of sun all day… didn’t factor in the earth movement—duh.

So Bruce and I lifted the hive and walked it two acres away to it’s new location. We first located, leveled and positioned the hive stand at magnetic north/south so when we gently lowered the Valkyrie into place, all was in readiness.

Then a few bees slowly made their way out of the hive and flew in small figure-eights near the entrance. In the past few days, I’ve seen more than 10-15 at the entrance, coming and going, while about 5 bees flying around at the previous location looking confused, or was that peeved?

This colony is aptly named: “Hypomone”—Endurance. Yep, she needs that, alright!

V

Susan M
Reply

Hello, I have been interested in beekeeping for years, but have never taken the leap to try on my own. One thing that has kept me from starting this is it seems beekeepers, even backyard hobbyist, never seem to have just one hive. I understand there are advantages to having 2. But it seems 2 often becomes 4, then more and move…. I really don’t want to fill my yard with hives. Is it realistic to enjoy all aspects of this hobby with only 1 or 2 healthy hives? After tons of reading and classes, I keep coming back to the horizontal hive. I live in the Seattle area and would love to connect with others using the horizontal hive.

Rusty
Reply

Susan,

There is no reason in the world that you need to have more than one or two hives. Two is the logical choice because, if you lose a queen, you can usually raise another from eggs.

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