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How many frames does each box hold?
Our hives hold 10, 9 or 8 frames. We supply castellations for spacing in our hive component section.
Do the hives have top ventilation?
No, ventilation is needed in wooden hives as the material of construction is inherently damp due to moisture in the wood.  Polyhives are used with the varroa mesh open all year apart from short periods of varroa monitoring or early in the spring in very cold areas.  The open mesh floor gives more than adequate ventilation to the hive and being at the bottom and with warm air rising, does not chill the brood nest. In Finland we have seen polyhives buried under a metre of snow for several months at a time with the only ventilation through the floor and into the air space under the hives – which were on pallets.
Do the hives need to be painted?
Before being taken into use it is essential the hive components are painted. This prevents the growth of algae on the outside of the hive, deterioration by UV and in the case of the feeder is required for sealing and ease of cleaning. We recommend the floor and roof are fully painted on all surfaces but the brood chamber and supers need only be painted on the outside. Ideally two coats of paint should be applied, though one will suffice. The feeder requires additional painting on the inside, where the syrup sits. At least 3 coats are required otherwise the syrup will soak into the feeder and mould etc., will continue to grow even after you have washed it out. The interior "walk-way" the bees climb up through does not need painting but the surface the bees walk down to reach the syrup benefits from a light roughening with fine sandpaper to help the bees grip. If you have strong fingers the hard plastic edges can be slid off prior to painting for a neater finish. Water based exterior smooth masonry paint is recommend for all surfaces other than the inside of the feeder. This is quick drying and easily applied with a 4" wide fleece roller and a ½" brush for the fiddly bits. One litre will be sufficient for two hives with supers although you will find you probably have to buy 2.5 litres. There is a school of thought that supports painting the hive components different colours so the bees can recognize their own hive better, but unless you have a large number of hives in the apiary this would not be economic. For the interior of the feeder we recommend four coats of interior gloss white paint.   Roughen the surface down which the bees climb to reach the syrup with fine sanding paper after the last coat.  Alternatively, apply an extra coat to this surface only and sprinkle dry sand on it.  You do not need to paint the interior surface the bees ascend - it would be pretty hard to reach in any case.  
How long do you leave the hive before putting bees in (not painted inside)?
You can put the bees in more or less straight away in our experience (using our recommended paint) but probably best to wait 24 hours to let the paint fully harden as it can still be a little soft even when touch dry and may be more easily damaged from knocks.
Is there any out gassing from the polystyrene as it is an oil based product?
Our hives are made from food grade expanded polystyrene.  Expanded polystyrene is made from hollow beads which are filled with air and then fused together under pressure and temperature.  The polystyrene itself is chemically inert and only steam is used in the manufacture of the hives.  Therefore, you need have no concerns over any gasses escaping from the material.  These type of hives are widely used around the World and are very well established in Scandinavia and Germany - which has some of the toughest laws in Europe on food quality and if there was any concern there about contamination they would take action.  As it is the largest supplier of beekeeping equipment in Germany no longer even sells wooden hives anymore, so complete has the change over to expanded polystyrene hives been.
How long do the Hives Last?
Plastic beehives have been used in Europe for at least 30 years, where they have proved both durable and effective, so much so that today in Denmark virtually 99% of all new hives sold are made of plastic, either expanded polystyrene or polyurethane.  The position is similar in many other Northern European countries, particularly Germany where one of the largest equipment suppliers no longer even lists wooden hives in their catalogue.  The Finnish designer of our hives who runs approximately 3,000 colonies claims he does not even know any beekeepers in Finland still using wooden hives.  In total there are over half a million plastic hives in use in Europe today, which is testament to their effectiveness and durability, the oldest polystyrene hives that we know of are 30 years plus and still in everyday use.
Modern Beekeeping USA is a trading name of S & E Enterprises Ltd Reg No - 03436565 2 Barnfield Crescent, Exeter, Devon EX1 1QT, United Kingdom. Contact