Hive Designs at Melissa Garden

New (old) hive designs (from Melissa Garden website)

Once we approach bee keeping in the context of the “Bien”, which represents the undividable entity of the hive, our methods and hives will change accordingly. There are currently three alternative hive designs (and more to come) used at “The Melissa Garden”:

One-Room-Hive (Golden Hive)
One of the “bee-natural” hives we work with at the Melissa Garden is the “one-room-hive” (in German: “Einraumbeute”), which is also called the “golden hive”. It is designed to provide the best environment for the development of the “Bien” and to minimize necessary manipulation (more frequent opening of hives may result in a weakening of the “Bien”).

Four different elements are part of the new design:

  • The entire colony lives in one room (without multiple hives and frame levels)
  • The hive comes with tall frames. That size comb sustains the “Bien” and allows the development of a large brood nest.
  • The side window enables the bee keeper to receive information about the cycle/status of the “Bien” without having to open the hive. A small size “indicator comb” can be build along side the viewing window.
  • The dimensions of the one-room-hive are set according to the “golden mean”. It is a universal principle within all forming forces in nature and is found in art, architecture and ancient philosophy. It’s also called the “divine proportion”.

It was designed by Mellifera e.V., the German holistic bee keeper association. The “Golden Hive” provides an environment for bees that is closer to their natural gestalt. It gives the bees the space to build natural comb with greater depth than regular bee hives. The brood nest is a protected space, and honey can be received from the sides. This hive contains 20 frames and is not supered. The comb surface area equals the frames of two regular deep and one medium Langstroth hive bodies. It has the typical screened bottom board for varroa monitoring, and uses follower boards to support changing bee populations throughout the season. A wax cloth lays on top of the frames and provides further options for protection the inner climate of the “Bien”.

“Weissenseifener Haengekorb” (Round Skep Hive)
The “Weissenseifener Haengekorb” was designed by the German sculptor Guenther Mancke. The form and shape of the hive are created according to natural/wild bee hives. The “Bien” as “an organic interpretation of an individual” (Tautz) was the blueprint for the design. Already through his outer shape it reveals the nature of the bees colonie– as if the egg shaped skep would be the outer shell or skin of this living being. The inner shape allows bees to unfold their own natural gestalt, in harmony with their instinctual life forces. The “Haengekorb” is made out of rye straw and has nine, half moon shaped arched, movable frames. Comb is built naturally and can be almost 2 feet deep. Supering is possible while fully protecting the integrity of the brood nest. The entrance is located at the bottom of the hive.

Top Bar Hive
It provides all the features of a natural comb bee hive. Top bars fully cover the upper opening of the hive, with initial comb guidance on the lower bar side. Top bar hives are used in many different cultures. We are introducing new versions of the top bar hive this coming year, which will use “bee-natural” hive proportions and will provide more space for larger comb creation. Top bar hives can be built easily with some basic materials.

Langstroth hives with natural comb
All of the Langstroth hives at “The Melissa Garden” allow bees to live on natural comb. Deep hive bodies are added from below (no supering). Bees over-winter on their own food and only true surplus honey is harvested.

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About LaLA Honey

I am a treatment-free beekeeper in the Berkshires.
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