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The Valkyrie long hive: built with love for bees and their keepers

Many of you may remember the Valhalla hive from several years ago. The Valhalla was a long hive designed by Naomi and Larry Price for beekeepers who were unable to lift heavy equipment or reach stacked hive boxes. The Valhalla hive was unique in many ways, including the fact it used standard Langstroth frames. This meant that frames could be transferred between the Valhalla and a Langstroth, and standard nucleus colonies would fit seamlessly into the Valhalla.

Naomi and Larry continued to use the Valhalla long hive, but over the years, they discovered improvements that would make the hive even better—both for the bees and the beekeeper. When it became necessary for them to switch builders, they decided to incorporate the many changes they envisioned. The remodeled hive has been rechristened the Valkyrie.

The evolution of the Valkyrie Long Hive

Vivien and Bruce, of The Right Hand LLP, have been working hard to perfect the changes and ramp up production of the new hive. I had the pleasure of meeting them both and viewing the new hives in production. What a show! Bruce, “The Beekeeper’s Carpenter” is a woodworking craftsman, attentive to every detail. Meanwhile, Vivien is putting together the business end, learning about shipping practices, packaging, bookkeeping, web management, and even beekeeping.

I have to say, the Valkyrie hives are so lovely I’d like to buy one for my dining room. You know, just for show! Plus, when I got to see the hives in action, I was impressed with the ease with which the hives—and the bees—could be handled.

Improvements galore

Some of the improvements in the new hive include:

  • The hinged lid with hardware that makes it a breeze to open and close. No heavy lifting is involved.
  • The lid mechanism has been tested against stiff breezes, so it will not accidentally close in a strong puff.
  • The new lid includes a built in frame rest. While inspecting, you can remove a frame, place it in the frame rest, and slide the rest of the frames one-by-one.
  • The built-in slatted rack was tightened up so debris no longer collects along the edges.
  • The hive comes with optional viewing windows, either one or two. Your choice.
  • The hive comes with two side-by-side varroa drawers that are easy to inspect and clean.

Bruce builds every hive by hand and assembles it to assure that each piece fits perfectly. Then he takes the hive apart for shipping. When I visited the shop, they were still finalizing the packaging method, but what I saw was impressive. Every piece was protected from every other with a variety of corners and braces. The entire hive (not including frames) will be shipped in two boxes. Since the hive was assembled before packaging, you are assured the pieces will fit together with ease.

Bee canvas and bee blankets

The standard Valkyrie comes with a canvas cover that fits over the top bars. The canvas is multipurpose, keeping the bees calm during inspection and conserving heat in the winter. An optional wool blanket fits in the space above the canvas cover. Naomi has found that the wool blanket not only keeps the bees warmer in winter, but temperature readings confirms it keeps the bees cooler in summer as well. Like a well-insulated home, the hive interior is protected from temperature extremes.

The optional hive stand

A really cool option to this hive is the insulated hive stand. Last winter, Naomi decided to use an infrared camera to monitor her hives in winter. What she discovered was a surprise. Her hives were insulated on top with the canvas covers and folded army blankets, so no heat was escaping through the lid. But much to her surprise (and mine!) heat was escaping from the bottom of the hive. She decided she needed a system to insulate the underside.

In reviewing this problem, Bruce decided to design a hive stand with built-in insulation. The stand is made of wood and is designed to hold a large rectangle of 3-inch rigid foam which stops the heat loss in its tracks. As an added bonus, you can specify how high you want the top of your hive to be, and he will cut the legs of the hive stand to assure the proper height just for you. It is an ingenious answer to two problems at once.

Straight from the source

I asked Vivien to give me a run-down of the Valkyrie features in her own words, and here is what she has to say:

From the Halls of Valhalla

“In the glorious halls of Valhalla, slain Norse warriors were transported by the Valkyries to enjoy the thrill of never-ending battle. While Odin ever-awaited new arrivals, it was the Valkyries who remained vigilant and watchful, presiding over earth’s battlefields to choose who would be taken aloft. Sprung from a ‘faithful constant’ (the Valhalla) to embrace an evolving field of bee biology, the Valkyrie Long Hive has emerged.

A gable-style lid

“The Valkyrie has an hinged gable-style lid that comes in two standard finishes: deluxe powder-coated and textured aluminum. The powder-coated color is ‘Moss Grey’ and the textured aluminum (with a ‘ridge cap’ design) is ‘Juniper Ridge.’ Both lids can be custom ordered in a rainbow of colors for an extra charge. The aluminum is custom fit by hand to eliminate weather intrusion.  Feel free to use a dry-erase marker for taking your ‘inspection notes’ on the covers as they wipe clean easily.

Improved hinges

“The standard hinges are durable and long-lasting steel, rust resistant and strong enough to stay open in inclement weather. The Valkyrie has one additional type of hinge called ‘Easy Glide’ which is currently in testing and should be available next spring.  The ‘Easy Glide’ will allow for self-opening and closing with just a light initial touch. The craftsman quality and lightness of the lid (40% lighter than before!) give the beekeeper an ease of operation which help those with arm, shoulder, or wrist problems.

An interior frame rest

“Under the lid is storage that can be used as a frame rest or to hold hive tools. It can also hold the ‘Interior Canvas Cover’ which is included in each hive purchase. The cover helps to increase the sense of security and privacy within the hive body. It is reinforced at the corners where the hive tool will be used, decreasing the chance of rips or tears.

“As an additional (not standard) benefit, the hand-crafted ‘Interior Pure-Shetland Wool Pad’ can be ordered which helps the colony maintain temperature and humidity levels year round. This pad is 100% Shetland sheep’s wool (locally grown, harvested and felted) and is placed on top of the Interior Canvas Cover. In two gorgeous colors, grey and charcoal, these pads are beautiful and functional as well!

A 24-frame capacity

“The hive body holds 24 standard deep frames. Beneath the frames is a built-in slatted rack with new, tighter spacing on the ends. The space above the rack allows a great view through the observation window.  Best of all, there is a space between the bottom of the frames and the top of the slats that allows the bees a free space in which to ‘hang out.’

“A single observation window is standard and placed on the left where viewing is best. An extra observation window can be ordered for the right side, if desired. Feeding supplies and containers can be placed directly inside the hive body when using less than 24 frames, so the need of an exterior boardman feeder was eliminated completely. Take that, you predators!

Interchangeable varroa drawers

“Beneath the body sits two drawers, screened and solid, which are interchangeable left-to-right (for those of us prone to forgetting). In hot weather, the solid drawer may be removed and the predators such as wasps are foiled again by the secured screened drawer: no access to the colony here!

Optional insulated hive stand

“Finally, an optional custom-fit stand can be ordered with each Valkyrie: it allows the top of the hive body (not the lid itself) to sit at 30″ from grade-level which is perfect for any beekeeper needing to be seated during inspection time, and suited to the height of most adults.  The stand can be custom ordered in other heights as needed, or even lowered. Included is a fitted sheet of rigid insulation which protects the colony from icy-cold or super-heated ground temperatures year-round: less work for ‘the ladies!’

Global shipping

“With shipping across the U.S. and globally, we’ve incorporated our bee-friendly philosophy to also include shipping containers and materials that are 100% recyclable, with easy set-up at your location. Just call for pricing!

“The over-all size and weight of this Valkyrie Long Hive means less work for the beekeeper and the colony. It is lighter, taller, and built to last.  We offer a two-year warranty on the lid and hinges and we won’t sacrifice ‘bee biology’ at any point.”

A hive to be proud of

I am truly impressed by the craftsmanship poured into the Valkyrie hive. Not only that, but the commitment of Vivien and Bruce is palpable, not only to beekeepers but to the bees themselves. If you have difficulties with the Langstroth configuration or are just looking for a better way to keep your bees, I urge you to have a look at the Valkyrie Long Hive.

Ordering Information

You can see more details on their Facebook page or call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

Long hive on stand.
The Valkyrie Long Hive on an insulated hive stand.
Back of long hive.
The back or “beekeeper’s side” has a viewing window and varroa drawers.
Varroa drawers and screens.
Both varroa drawers and screens remove for easy cleaning.
Varroa trays.
Close-up view of varroa trays. A second viewing window can be added if you wish.
View of the inside.
View of the inside. Twenty-four standard Langstroth deep frames fit in the hive.
Hinges and lid.
The hinges make the lid easy to open and have been tested against a stiff breeze.
The built-in slatted rack.
The built-in slatted rack.
Detail of roof construction.
Detail of roof construction.
Bee entrance.
On the “bee side” of the hive, the bees have a covered, closable entrance.
Lids come in two standard colors.
Lids come in two standard colors, or they may be custom ordered in other colors.
Insulated hive stand.
The insulated hive stand is an optional item.
A slatted rack getting ready for shipment.
A slatted rack getting ready for shipment.
Packing material.
Specially designed rigid packing material.
All packing materials are recyclable and designed to protect the hive.
All packing materials are recyclable and designed to protect the hive.
Packed for shipping.
The entire hive is disassembled and packed in two boxes for shipping.
Cover and blanket.
The canvas top-bar cover comes standard, and the woolen insulating blanket is an optional item.
First box.
The first box is nearly ready to go.
The second box.
The second box. Large box is 44 lbs and the small box is 34 lbs.
One of Naomi's hives showing the woolen insulating blanket.
One of Naomi’s hives showing the woolen insulating blanket.
Propolized canvas cover.
Your bees will propolize the canvas cover to their liking.
The built-in frame support.
The built-in frame support.
The canvas cover calms the bees.
The canvas cover keeps the bees calm while working them. Just pull back as much as you need.
Naomi and Larry Price working their bees in July.
Larry and Naomi Price (foreground) working their bees in July.
The ends of the Valkyrie long hive has handles.
An end view showing hinges and handles.
"The Beekeeper's Carpenter" The Right Hand LLP.
“The Beekeeper’s Carpenter” The Right Hand LLP.

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Comments

Sharon Klemm
Reply

This is so cool. I was thinking I would move toward this type of hive as the Langstroth is just impossible for me. Way too heavy and removing frames to work the hive just ticks the bees off to no end. I thought I would give the one deep experiment a try this summer only to discover bees that were honey bound and overcrowded beyond belief. Back to two deeps and the impossible stuff, something I really didn’t want to do. This hive looks like the solution to a whole lot of problems. Gotta get the girls through winter, but come spring, there’s gonna be new houses in our neighborhood. Can’t wait! Great article.

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Thank you for your interest, Sharon, we look forward to hearing from you!

Lloyd Seested
Reply

Looks like it could survive IEDs.

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Hi Lloyd!

Hopefully, we won’t have to undergo an impromptu testing but, hey, it just might survive!

Thanks for your interest, and humour!!

Ray
Reply

Wow, very nice, I wish we could buy these in the UK!

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Hello, Ray:

We can ship to the UK, just call for shipping prices and hive availability.

Have a wonderful evening!

Dave
Reply

Looks gorgeous Rusty, great to see people taking such efforts to perfect a hive able to be used by everyone. I might get one for my partner in crime!

Just wondering what your take is on the ventilation? From what I understand ventilation is more important than insulation.

Naomi Price
Reply

Dave,
Honey bees in my 13 long hives demonstrated that strategically placed insulation is a huge step in reducing much of their ventilating activity. The pleasant trade off is not seeing bees bearding, or their beekeeper fretting about excessive condensation within the hives. Beekeeping should be fun and not so worrisome.

leslie poulin
Reply

Hello,
How and where can we order one?

Rusty
Reply

Leslie,

Call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.

Nancy Ogg
Reply

Thanks for the review, Rusty – it’s very impressive! Very well-thought-out

A few weeks ago I was racking my brain to figure out a way to donate a frame of eggs to a friend who was afraid her top-bar had become queenless.

One question: suppose I decided to “retire” from shifting hive boxes but wanted to move a thriving hive to a Valkyrie. In transferring frames from Langstroth boxes, what order would I place them in? Outer (stores) frames from bottom, brood frames from bottom, brood frames from top, stores frames from top?

Love to hear from any of your readers who have undertaken this kind of switch.

Nan
Corinth, Kentucky

BeeHappy
Reply

Nancy,
I would place the brood nest on the end where the entrance is. and then the upper boxes of honey and stores next, IE farther from the entrance. similar concept of the standard Langstroth, laid on its side. Entrance to brood nest then past the brood nest to the stores. If you have 2 boxes with brood then you need to merge it in a fashion that would end up with the brood all together on the entrance end with stores of honey farthest from the entrance. The bees travel into the stores in the winter as far as they need to. Ideally they do not run out or have stores split on 2 sides of the brood nest, they cannot shift to the other end in the middle of the winter. Feeding can be done adding 3 or 4 frames of honey to the end farthest from the entrance. Also I would move them to the long hive, early in the summer so they figure out they are in a different configuration and they will set up the stores on there own. Moving them late fall would perhaps not allow enough time to shift stores if needed.

have fun good luck

Nancy Ogg
Reply

BeeHappy –
Thank you!
That’s very clear, and makes perfect sense!
Nan

Anna
Reply

What a lovely hive. There was a similar one with carved images of honey bees on the exterior at EAS. I wonder if the clothes moths are a problem with the wool blanket?

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Good morning, Anna:

The hive is built to keep predatory insects out, so, it doesn’t seem likely that a moth could enter inside.

Thanks for your interest!

Margaret Pearson
Reply

Rusty; How do I find out the price of the valkyrie long box hive? I”m very interested in purchasing one.
Thank you,
Marge Pearson
pilotchickm@comcast.net

Rusty
Reply

Margaret,

Call Vivien directly at (541) 771-7278 for pricing and ordering.

Dennis Steadman
Reply

Wow, that hive body looks fantastic! I don’t know if I could afford it but I might just want to get rid of my Langstroth hive!

Dave
Reply

Hi Rusty,
In this hive, is the entire box a brood box? I can’t quite tell how it is that you harvest anything? Is there a queen excluder to one side? Do you shift the frames towards the bees and remove them as they fill? How do you winterize? Is there a website to look this up?

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Hi Dave:

The website isn’t ready yet, so sorry! Page upward on this blog where there is an excellent answer to your placement question. Also, the ladies will winterize the hive themselves, and if you add the Shetland Wool cover to your hive purchase—so much the better as it really brings a higher level of protection in both summer and winter.

Thank you for your interest!

Jo Anne
Reply

I looks beautiful. My questions is, do the Langstroth frames fit this box? How many frames does it take? Queen excluder included? Thank you

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

The Valkyrie is designed to make the “cross-over” from a Langstroth quite seamlessly. And yes, the STANDARD DEEP frames fit beautifully, 24 to each Valkyrie.

Nice talking with you JoAnne!

Kate
Reply

Could you email pricing info to me? I am hearing-impaired and cannot call. Are you in Oregon?

Rusty
Reply

Kate,

I sent your request directly to Vivien. I’m sure she will be back to you shortly.

MarianA
Reply

I have problems with Argentine ants. Currently my hive stands are standing in cans of oil. How would I ant-proof the stand? (These ants are really small and persistent, so a tight box would only make them work harder to find a way in, which they’ll manage somehow.)

rodney
Reply

Interesting concept. Worth looking into. Question, does the wool blanket not irritate the girls? I thought they did not like wool? I am still learning and would greatly appreciate any guidance.

Thank you

Emily
Reply

Is losing heat from the bottom of the hive such a bad thing? Just wondering if too much condensation might build up without bottom ventilation. We have a saying in the U.K. that damp kills bees, not cold.

Naomi Price
Reply

Emily,

Observing honey bees at their hive entrance often gives keepers clues to the colony’s emergency call. Bearding to a tight cluster signals the colony is reacting to hive temperature extremes. The purpose of insulate materials, like wool or rigid foam, is to create a cavity that the colony isn’t always in emergency mode. If the insulation is not wet, then it is doing its job in allowing the colony to maintain the temperature of their choosing, including high humidity that brings some moisture needed by the bees. Some keepers have located their long hives on a bed of rock. Rock absorbs heat and radiates it back up into the hive. My thermal camera detected a winter colony pushed up against their inner cover, while heat was escaping from the hive’s bottom. Surprise! Rigid foam was secured underneath the long hive as an experiment. Within 24 hours the tight cluster had expanded to access their needs on several frames. The adversity from both examples was eliminated with insulation. The wool insulate keeps the propolised inner-cover cloth cool v. sticky, and allows the colony to easily maintain a core temperature with high humidity. Yes, beekeeping is more than insulating a hive, but it has become a good addition to the Valkyrie long hive.

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Hi Rodney, and thank you for your question.

Honestly, these Shetland Wool Inner Covers are so soft, the felting is so comfortable, I’d like a winter coat made of the stuff. That being said, the wool cover is cut to fit right on top of the canvas inner cover, so the ladies won’t really ever come into contact with the wool.

The wool cover stays on the canvas cover 24/7/365 and helps to avoid the temperature spikes that can be so troublesome. Take a look at the blog post dated Aug 31 from Naomi Price. Thanks, hope that helps!

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Hi Rusty!

As noted above, I now have a website with PayPal!

PayPal won’t be fully operational until just after the holiday, and I’ll still need to add a pricing sheet/shipping information before the week’s end. I’m VERY HAPPY to point a link to your site. Thanks again for all your wonderful assistance and knowledge. I am blessed.

Sincerely, Vivien

Rusty
Reply

Vivien,

I’m so glad you got the website going. It will make a big difference and help you a lot.

Rodney
Reply

Thank you. I learned something new.

Debbie
Reply

Nice ….. our hive producer makes similar hives, but the frames are deeper and larger … I have been thinking of switching to something like this for a while now, I think it would be so much easier than fighting with the regular boxes. easy in and out. Thanks for the write up. I like, I like !! Very well made and thought out.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hi Debbie and thank you for the nice comment!

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, the credit goes to Larry, Naomi, and my husband, Bruce. Such a wealth of expertise from the “bee whisperers” and Bruce’s devotion to craftsmanship — I’m privileged to just soak it all in.
We’ll look forward to hearing from you soon!

Rusty
Reply

Vivien,

No, the name doesn’t ring a bell.

Vivien Hight, The Right Hand LLP
Reply

Thanks, Rusty, I’ll keep looking.

PS: I’m still trying to figure out how to change the font color of your web link so that it stands out more… sheesh. Check out the Shetland Wool page on the website that I just added.

Shipping costs are costing us sales orders—think I’ll just buy my own truck!

V

Rusty
Reply

Vivien,

The web stuff takes some time. I never know as much as I need to, but I muddle through.

Jo DeDecker
Reply

Would like to purchase, can you send me a price?

Rusty
Reply

Jo,

You need to contact Vivien Hight, the business owner. Her email is vivienhight@ymail.com.

Vivien Hight
Reply

Hello Mr. DeDecker (and Rusty):

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, and, feel free to look up our website.

Happy Holidays!

Vivien

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