The Classroom – September 2018
Q WHO INVENTED OUR MODERN BEEHIVE?
I enjoy your column and always learn from your replies, as well as a chuckle or two.
This is a bit off topic, but I was having a discussion with another beekeeper about Lorenzo Langstroth and the invention of bee space and hanging frames. Was he the first to create the “modern movable frame” beehive?
Thank you for your information and eagerness to share!
Hello History Buff,
Most everything is a continuum meaning that nobody really ever invents the perfect something. Those smart, innovative, entrepreneurial folks that follow the initial invention always improve on it, make it better, help it bring value to those that use it or get value from its use.
In 1815 a Ukrainian beekeeper named Peter Prokopovich invented the movable frame beehive. He did include a space of 8-9mm between the end bar and the wall of the beehive, but missed this pretty close bee space between the frames. Prokopovich had several hundred colonies, which in the early 1800’s was unusual. His large number of colonies was possible because of his unique movable frame hive.
It took our own Lorenzo Langstroth, who was born in 1810 when Prokopovich was using his movable frame hives in Ukraine, to figure out that the 3/8 inch bee space could be used as a universal distance between frame hardware, the frames next to each other, and the hive body itself. This allowed for much easier frame movement and management. Langstroth received a patent for this in 1852. There is no reason to believe that Langstroth could read Ukrainian or anybody cared about Ukrainian beekeepers back in the 1800’s.
This bee space distance is the universal engineering metric that allows anyone designing a beehive to allow the beekeeper to open up and inspect a honey bee colony, so they can manage it and keep it healthy. In the age of varroa, sampling and appropriate varroa treatment requires access to all interior locations of a honey bee colony. Anything less is an additional negative check mark hampering colony survival if a beekeeper is passionately responsible.
History is cool. Thanks for the question.
Q Storing Honey
So I have had a good year of honey harvest. Now, I have a dilemma that I haven’t faced before: how to store 200 lbs of honey until I can sell it without it crystallizing.
My options are:
1 – Store at room temp in my house (76 degrees) in buckets
2 – Store in a bottling tank at any temp from 70 to 110
I know that crystallization is normal, but I would like to decrease it for as long as I can. What do you suggest?
I am glad you had a good crop. Exciting. Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution based on the flower nectar collected. Honey that granulates/crystallizes is following a natural process as the honey tries to balance the sugar ratios in it. Some honey will never granulate and some like canola will granulate so quickly, sometimes while still in the comb, forcing beekeepers to extract it equally quickly. Most honeys have sugar ratios that fall in the middle and will granulate slowly. The ratios of individual sugars are important to determine if the honey will granulate slowly or quickly. I know most of us and our customers are imprinted on liquid honey. But most of the rest of the world prefers what we call ‘Creamed Honey’ which is finely crystallized honey. It is smooth, creamy, has a wonderful mouth feel and it doesn’t drip or run all over the place. Google up Creamed Honey or the original ‘Dyce Process’ because there is a potential market for this wonderful product.
I am getting off my creamed honey sales podium now :)! Honey does this crystallization balancing act best at temperatures in the lower 50’s °F. The challenge in keeping honey at room temperatures or above is that over time, months really, honey will darken as it ages because of an aging byproduct called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) and lose flavor as the volatile chemicals that give honey flavor can be released.
To keep the ‘fresh’ honey desirable I would line up your customers early and store for the least amount of time, preferably around the 80° F mark. And remember, if it starts crystallizing spontaneously simply because that is what it wants to do, try to use the least amount of heat needed to re-liquefy it.
All the best and have fun.
Q Old Comb Rotation
Your column is a must read as soon as the “Journal” arrives. Many thanks.
The combs in the single brood box are now three years old and I am thinking of replacing with new foundation. The winters in the Central Valley are very mild and bees forage all year long which means that brood is always present. So how can I install new foundation without losing brood? Can I add a second brood box above the old box and hope the queen and comb builders move up and eventually abandon the lower brood chamber?
I have found the best mite treatment is to let the colony swarm but that cuts the annual honey yield to about half.
Thank you for The Classroom compliment. I appreciate it for all of us beekeepers.
The simple answer is to simply buy or borrow a piece of ….