Honeycliffes beehive boxes come in a variety of options ranging from treated to untreated boxes in three different grades.
There are several ways to configure a beehive box system. To help making a decision a to what suits your operation best we have a few points to consider which we noted over the years selling to a wide variety of commercial beekeepers.
In general the most versatile and durable option is on the more expensive end of the costing scale. If you wish to have more for less and are not too concerned as to how long it lasts you will be on the cheaper end of the scale. Honeycliffes caters for both.
There are generally two main purposes for beehive boxes; they are either used for a brood chamber or honey storage. Point to consider is that brood boxes are out in the weather all year round and honey boxes are only coming out of the shed during the spring/summer months when we generally are experiencing dry weather conditions. With exposure to the weather, all year round durability is more an issue for brood boxes than it is for honey boxes.
Honey boxes are more exposed to mechanical wear and tear by being bounced around during harvesting. Breakage can cause major timewasting during operations and come at a significant cost, therefore, strength is a point of consideration. With regard to durability, in combination with the fact that brood boxes are arguably the most valuable part of the hive, it would make sense to invest relatively more in brood boxes than honey boxes.
The choice between Full Depth and ¾ boxes is mainly one of ergonomics. A ¾ box can save your back, full of honey it is considerably lighter than a full depth box, approximately 20% less. A disadvantage of using ¾ boxes is that you handle more boxes for the same amount of honey when using Full Depth, which is less efficient and therefore less cost-effective. A fairly common practice is to run with Full-Depth boxes for brood and ¾ boxes for honey. However, this system becomes less versatile as you lose the option to interchange the frames between honey and brood boxes.
The criteria for grading timber are size, location, and number of defects such as knots, machining size and finishing of the boards. The higher the number and bigger the size of defects the lower the grade. The lower the grade the cheaper the box.
The highest grade is Premium, knot free but minor defects such as blemishes can occur. Our Commercial-grade has tight knots, away from the ends to enable problem free fixing with staples, nails or screws. Knots on edges are also avoided to prevent them from breaking out leaving holes. Budget boxes or 2nds are a downfall product accumulating from producing the Premium and Commercial grade boxes. They have larger knots and smaller knots can be on the ends and edges. The 2nds can have sizing issues but with some work can be made into a usable box.
Rot or decay is often the main phenomena referred to with regard to the durability of a timber product. Moisture is the main cause of decay. Trying to prevent the timber from rotting you try to keep water off by painting or oiling the timber. Another measure is to condition the timber by treating, if water does get in, rot can’t occur or at least is slowed down.
How far you go with durability depends on where you are and how the boxes are used. An untreated box in a relatively dry climate on the east coast lasts considerably longer in comparison with one in the wetter climate on the West coast. As mentioned before brood boxes are exposed to the elements all year round whereas honey boxes are only out of the shed during the summer months. Brood boxes could need therefore need to be made more durable than honey boxes.
In general defects such as knots have the potential to form an entry point for moisture and compromise the durability over time. A higher grade timber with less or no defects will be more durable than a lower grade.
At Honeycliffes we strive to provide quality, environmentally friendly and bee friendly products for the New Zealand beekeeper. We have a wide range of products to suit every need, and if you want something a little different, we will happily work with you to custom make and create your perfect hive. Our products are tried and true with great results, because at Honeycliffes we listen to and care about our clients feedback.