British National Beehives
Based in a small workshop in Tideswell in the Peak District we make British National Beehives out of 1st grade Western Red Cedar, high quality Red Deal or, when available, locally sourced Western Red Cedar according to the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Modified National Hive Plans. Everything we sell we make here in the Peak District. The driving forces behind peak-hives.co.uk are sustainability and quality workmanship. Sustainability because, well it matters quite a bit we think and quality workmanship because customer satisfaction is paramount.
Fully Assembled National Hives
Flat Pack National Hives
Want to see your National Hive being made? Here's what's going on in the workshop right now. The image is updated every 10 minutes during working hours. Click to see full size...
The rest of the centre column is an ongoing blog of what's new at peak-hives.co.uk and other items of interest...veg garden...renewables etc, but please don't let reading about the allotment distract you from placing your order...:-)
Added to the hive options and also added into the left hand side bar of the Peak Hives site now is our new 6″ National Roof. It’s been something asked for several times and I have made it FOC as a special but as it’s a pretty popular option I thought I’d add it to the product line up.
Bees aren’t the only creatures to ‘make increase’ and our expanding brood has ended up in my buying a new ‘people carrier’ vehicle. Had a tear in my eye when the old Berlingo went but the new car’s been well received by the family so a good buy overall. Had the PH logo done on the back again by Hotline Signs in Buxton. Looks a treat.
Peak Hives New Vehicle
Here’s the latest batch of Western Red Cedar delivered to the workshop. We now buy it by the cubic metre. It doesn’t sound like alot but we’ll get quite a few beehives out of the couple of cubic metres in the picture.
2 Cubes of WRC
Finally, here’s a picture of an ‘Apiguard Quilt’. The customer suggested it and we try to please. It should do the trick quite nicely as it would allow a quick peek to see if the treatment has been taken without disturbing the colony.
Latest lineup finished today in the Peak Hives workshop. The customer is, I believe, writing an article on beekeeping for a National Sunday Supplement which we’re very excited about. Would be great to see some of our National Hives in a widely distributed Sunday. Apart from our website we don’t advertise and we’re always busy so the thought of a deluge of orders the Monday after publication is a little daunting but in today’s economic gloom it’s definitely better to be worried about having too much work than too little.
Each hive comprises of National Stand, National Brood Chamber, 14×12 Eke, 2 Supers, Framed Queen Excluder, Apiguard Crown Board, Gabled Roof, Ashforth Feeders, Top Bee Space, all in first grade Western Red Cedar. The Nucleus Hive is one of our own popular 6 frames plus the supplied dummy board with a varroa floor again in Cedar.
Given that we’re due about a foot of snow overnight it’s unlikely to leave the workshop tomorrow. Just have to work round them until the courier can get!
On Monday I delivered Peak Hives biggest order to date for our Cedar National Hives to our customer in South Wales. They are involved in a transnational project regarding bees and biodiversity and a part of the project involved running apiaries and educational workshops in their area. For sensible reasons I won’t say exactly where they are. They had already taken a delivery last season from us for 33 hives and were happy to then go on to order another larger order.
Many thanks to Rob, Gareth and all involved in the project for placing your orders with Peak Hives.
It’s been a big job for a small business like ours but I finished off the last Varroa Floors on Friday and can now get back to the standard order queue. Thanks to all Peak Hives customers for your orders and your patience.
One of our school customers wanted an observation hive and sent me an image of one they had seen to see if I could make a copy. They also wanted it to be compatible with frames taken from their existing Peak Hives National Hive so as to facilitate colony management etc. The photo they sent me was of a hive based upon the Langstroth so it did take a bit of modifying to make it National Hive compatible but here’s the result.
National Observation Hive
National Observation Hive
National Observation Hive
As you can see with the hinged doors open and the polycarbonate quilt it will make for easy viewing of the entire colony. I added toggle latches to hold the floor to the brood chamber and to the modified super above the brood so as to make sure there weren’t any mishaps whilst the hive was being observed. I’m pleased with the result and think our client will be too.
Here’s the latest order being checked over in the workshop. A complete Apiary for a school in Shropshire. Comprising 3 fully assembled National Hives in Cedar each with a Varroa Floor, 2 Supers, 14 x 12 brood chamber, Framed Queen Excluder, Apiguard Crown Board with Porter Bee Escapes and a Gabled Roof. PLus there’s a couple of our popular Nucleus Hives which come with Varroa Floors and a dummy board and will take up to 6 frames of bees.
We get alot of orders from schools and it’s nice to think of our products being used in educating potential future beekeepers. Given the size of the order I’ll be putting these hives into our van and delivering in person tomorrow.
We’re back from our annual family trip to the Vendee and back into the workshop.
This client likes to use a double brood chamber on his nucleus colonies and asked if we could make up an extra brood chamber in nucleus size. We’re always keen on custom orders and here’s the result…
Double Brood Nuc
As with all Peak Hives products it is manufactured to National Hive standard dimensions. But we do our Nucleus Hives for 6 frames plus a dummy board (supplied) for easier manipulation.
What do you get when you cross-pollinate bees and the Church? A Peak Hives National Hive on top of Manchester Cathedral!
Adrian (Peak Hives customer and also an Honorary Canon at the Cathedral) emailed me…
‘…The project is beginning to take shape now. Manchester Cathedral is very much a working cathedral – very involved in the city and highly active at a social level. We have a Volunteer Project – for young people struggling to get a step on the ladder of life. The Cathedral Apiary project is part of that. We will be training up individuals in beekeeping – but there is a level of involvement beyond that. We will take the different elements of it – building hives/frames etc, managing the hives, extracting and selling honey, and use of other products of the hive - as a way of getting people to learn how to start and work up a project and follow it through – so that they can use these skills in other fields. It will be a rolling programme of development…’
Many thanks Adrian for choosing Peak Hives to supply the project.
Nick & Adriana.
Our bee breeder Helen has some strong nucleus colonies available for pick up over the next couple of weeks. You can email me at email@example.com and I’ll pass on details or visit her new website at Helen’s Living Garden. The nucs are Buckfast x Caucasian bees on at least 6 frames with all stages of brood with stores and a marked home bred queen. All in accordance with FERA recommendations for nuclei sales. Each nucleus will have been treated against varroa prior to collection.
Time to respond to customer requests. I’ve had numerous enquiries as to whether I’d make a ‘Super’ for a Nucleus Hive. Well here it is (See pic below). It’s sized to sit atop of our 6 Frame Nucleus Hive and comes with fitted metal runners. The work involved in making one is more or less the same as for a full sized National Hive Super so unfortunately they can’t be sold for half price for the small amount of material that’s saved. But they’ve been requested a good few times now and we try our best to satisfy demand.
Nucleus Hive Super
They are now available to purchase in the left hand column. All the best and happy beekeeping. Nick and Adriana.
Quick shot of the order finished today. Two Nucleus Hives in Cedar with Varroa Floors and our new Splayed Leg Hive Stands. At Peak Hives we put as much work and attention to detail in making our Nucleus Hives as we do into making our full sized National Hives. In fact the time it takes making one is not far off about the same as making a full sized hive as they have essentially all the same components but scaled down. Stand, Varroa Floor, Brood Chamber, Crown Board and Roof.
All the best. Nick.
This stack of National Hive Brood Boxes in Red Deal has just been completed and is now ready for putting on a pallet for delivery to our beekeeper customer in Herts. After sizing it up for delivery it was decided that a single pallet would be better as it would have taken 8 individual packages to be sent by the normal courier route.
National Brood Chambers
We did have a relatively quiet period in November when I managed to get more or less up to date with the order queue but with the new season that’s now history and we’re as busy as heck and I’m currently working 7 days a week in the workshop trying to get on top of the workload. Thankfully Peak Hives tends to attract customers that understand that when ordering from a cottage industry there may be a wait between clicking ‘buy now’ and delivery. We really do appreciate our clients patience. Our customer satisfaction rate suggests they think it’s worth it.
Coming to Tideswell on 10th May – The Honey Man, by New Perspectives Theatre Company, about a bee keeper.
A four star review in The Guardian today:
I’ve been asked a number of times for these so I set aside some workshop time to make up the required jigs and ensure that they could be manufactured to a consistent high standard. That done I have now added them as a product in the left hand column and they are also an option on our National Hives. Apart from looking good, the splayed legs add stability and the longer landing board should be appreciated by both bees and beekeeper alike.
Splayed Legs Hive Stand
Of National Nucleus Hives in Western Red Cedar. These 13 were ordered to rejuvenate a Channel Island Beekeeping Association’s equipment inventory. Modesty aside I think they look a treat and hope that the clients will be as pleased with them as I am. Our 6 Hoffman Frame plus Dummy Board (which comes supplied with the nuc) configuration is proving a popular product and the fact that Peak Hives supplies them with the option of a Varroa Floor adds further benefit. Anyway, enough banging our drum here’s a piccy of them prior to shipping by pallet…
Jersey Nucleus Hives
Our client wishes to place his apiary with the back of his hives against a limestone wall. After having picked up his original order for a National Hive in Cedar with a standard Varroa Floor he realised that the slide out Correx tray meant that his hives would have to be 1/2 metre away from the wall. After a quick consultation with us we’ve come up with these bespoke Open Mesh Floors. On one the tray slides out to the left and on the other it slides out to the right allowing two hives to be inspected from a central position. We always try to meet any special requirements if we can. If the customers happy, we’re happy.
Custom Varroa Floors
Finally got round to making all the jigs and workarounds to make the production of Hoffman Frames viable. They’re now added to the frames section in the left hand column. We’re offering our frames in flat packs of 10 or 50 and the Hoffmans are available in standard National Hive Brood Box size and 14×12. All our frame packs come supplied with frame nails.
As is the case with all our National Hive products every stage from raw material to completed frame is done in our workshop in Tideswell.
We’ve had a number of enquiries as to when is the last date for ordering Peak Hives National Hive products to ensure timely delivery for giving as Christmas presents this year. Up at the top of the page from now until around Christmas time there’ll be a ‘last order date’ which will be continually monitored and updated to ensure delivery in time.
Hope that helps.
Here at Peak Hives we take product development seriously. When we get National Hive suggestions from customers they are always considered carefully and incorporated into our product line if they’d be a useful addition to the beekeeping experience. Hence the new Peak Hives Nucleus Hive.
6 Frame Nucleus Hive
The most noticeable improvement is our new Nucleus Hives have room for 6 frames instead of the previous 5. But also we’ve built in room to add a dummy board (which comes included) alongside the 6 frames to make inspection easier.
As can be seen from the photos there’s the optional 7 litre Ashforth Feeder sized to sit perfectly on top of the brood area. The other feeding option is provided by the feed hole in the crown board which allows the use of a contact feeder should you prefer. Also optional is the Nucleus Hive stand with landing board again sized to sit perfectly under the hive.
6 Frame Nucleus Hive
We’re the only National Hive makers to incorporate a Varroa Floor with our Nucleus Hives and with the new 6 frame Nucleus Hives and that will continue. Whether a hive is for a nuc or a large colony it’s always useful to be able to inspect for Varroa infestation. As can be seen in the photo we use yellow correx trays in our Open Mesh Floors to aid visual identification of the mite. The standard floor will also continue as an option should you prefer. Both floors come with an entrance block.
Nucleus Hive Varroa Floor
And of course we’re offering the new product in standard National Hive brood size and 14×12. All in Western Red Cedar or the more economical Red Deal.
Just added Frames and Dummy Boards to the Peak Hives product list. They can now be purchased from the left hand column along with all other Peak Hives National Hive products.
These two products have been requested umpteen times. Dummy Boards present no problem it’s just that I’m so busy with existing orders it takes some time for me to fit into the work schedule making up anything new.
Frames are another matter. Each frame consists of 6 seperately machined elements and yet they command such a low selling price. I’ve been working on this problem for a while and whilst it’s been sorted some time ago for supplying my own apiary I have been wary of offering them as a PH product up until now. Various jigs have been designed and made and then remade and then again reworked but I’m now finally confident that they can be viably produced in batches meaning I’m not having to work for two penneth an hour.
DN1 Frame Pack
So far we’re offering the bread and butter DN1 and SN1 frames in packs of 10 in the flat. Hoffman brood frames will come before the new 2012 season.
Alea Iacta Est.
For the upcoming 2012 season Peak Hives has joined forces with a local bee breeder and will be supplying Nucleus Colonies of bees. We still have to cross some ‘t’s and dot some ‘i’s but if you’re interested in a ‘nuc’ then please email. Our bee breeder is very experienced and has invested recently in some Buckfast Queens to breed from for the next season. More on this soon…
Whenever I visit an experienced beekeeper I like to see how they operate and what modifications they have made to their National Hives to see if there’s an opportunity to usefully expand the Peak Hives product range. I don’t want to manufacture anything that isn’t good for practical beekeeping. On a recent visit to one of the Chesterfield BKA members apiary I noticed that he was using polycarbonate quilts. I’ve seen them before, of course, but having received the stamp of approval of a beekeeper with many years experience I decided to add them to the PH product line. Framed in Cedar here’s No 1 in our apiary…
Peak Hives polycarbonate quilts are now available to purchase in the left hand column.
We’re off on our annual holiday tomorrow. Back in 2 weeks to apply the Apiguard and resume production.
From now on the slide out trays used for Varroa inspections on Peak Hives Open Mesh Floors will be made from 4mm Yellow Correx rather than the 5mm ply previously used. This change applies to full National size Varroa Floors and our Nucleus Hive Varroa Floor.
Open Mesh Floor Improvement
At Peak Hives we take suggestions/requests from our customers seriously. Generally speaking I’d say that if a customer suggests an improvement it doesn’t always register as I’m so busy working on orders that product modification isn’t foremost in my mind but if it’s asked for again then I try to stop what I’m doing and give the matter some serious consideration and come to a decision.
The main reason for this change to Yellow Correx slide out trays is better visibility as compared to the ply trays I previously manufactured. It is much easier to spot a Varroa Mite against the Yellow Correx background than against the purpleish coloured ply.
Of course if you’re a previous Peak Hives customer and would like a Yellow Correx slide out tray then just get in touch and we can sort you out with a new tray at cost.
The season is more or less upon us and I’m too busy to take photos of everything leaving the workshop and blog it but here’s another recent order. The customer is moving from standard brood box size to 14×12 brood boxes. He had two national hives from us last season but this year wishes to move to 14×12 and expand his apiary. So there’s two fully assembled hives in cedar with 14×12 broods, a nucleus hive, an ashforth feeder and two ekes to convert his standard broods purchased last year to 14×12 size.
14x12 Hives and Ekes
After cocking up the first attempt at making the ekes (my bees have to suffer once again…) I’m now very happy with them. They just drop into the standard brood box (after removing previous metalwork of course) and you have a 14×12 brood chamber…
I’ll be able to join the debate as to whether 14×12 or brood and a half is better later in the year as I’m going to be running both side by side this season.
A couple of hives finished today. On the left is a five frame National Nucleus Hive suitable for 5 frames plus 8mm ‘wiggle’ room. On the right a full sized National Hive also from first grade cedar. Comes with a Stand with Landing Board, Varroa Floor, Standard Brood Chamber, A Framed wired queen excluder, two Supers, An Apiguard Crown Board and a Standard 4″ roof.
These are to go tomorrow to a repeat customer. It is very rewarding to find that many Peak Hives customers are satisfied with their first order and purchase again.
All the best. Nick and Adriana.
A much valued Peak Hives customer has sent me this stunning photo. It’s two Peak Hives Nationals painted up in white and set in his beautiful garden. I think the white works really well here and paint is also the best protection for any outside woodwork including hives.
Aesthetically it very much puts my apiary to shame…but you know what they say… ‘cobbler’s children…’
Still busy up here and here’s a quick picture of the order made up over the weekend (Yes including Sunday)…The order was for 3 14×12 National Hives in red deal each including a Varroa floor, a 14×12 Brood Chamber, Framed Queen Excluder, Two Supers, a Standard Crown Board and a Standard 4 inch roof. Sunday working isn’t so bad when you love your job!
Isle of Wight Order
Quite a big order this one. It’s essentially an Apiary in a box. There’s 2 Flat Pack Cedar 14 x 12 National Hives with Open Mesh Floors and Framed Queen Excluders with 3 National Supers a piece, Standard 4″ National Roof, Crown Boards and National Hive Stands with Landing Boards.
Also on the right is a 14 x 12 Nucleus Hive in Cedar with Varroa Floor.
At the back you can just make out a couple of Ashforth Feeders too. One for the full sized Hives and one for the Nucleus Hive.
Flat Pack 14x12 Apiary
I think I’ll advise the customer to buy a BIG pot of glue!!!
Christmas comes but once a year and one of our clients has given permission to show this picture of a beautifully wrapped Peak Hives National Hive given as a present. We were very worried that they might not get it in time for Christmas but as you can see it arrived in time for some luxury wrapping…
There were a few customers for hives as presents and thankfully we managed to get them all out in time for giving on the big day.
I’ve sent out a couple of flat pack hives this week but this is the first assembled British National Hive to come out of the Peak Hives workshop in 2011. As can be seen from the photo the stand is ‘legless’. I believe the customer has a bench arrangement in place and will sit the hive on this so no legs required. The hive consists of National Stand, Open Mesh Floor for Varroa control and monitoring, National Brood Box, Framed Queen Excluder, 3 National Supers, A Standard Crown Board with Porter Bee Escapes and a Standard 4 inch Flat Roof.
An Ashforth Feeder was also included with the order and a 70mm eke in Cedar to use with a plastic feeder the customer already has. Nice bit of kit if I do say so myself.
First National Hive for 2011
Arvind Mistry visited the workshop last week. He’s a friend and a professional photographer and had been asked to do a ‘shoot’ of a production environment. I was happy to oblige and here’s a PDF of some of the shots he took.
I was more than a tad worried that the sawdust and particles in the workshop would damage his very expensive gear but he didn’t seem in the least bothered so I cracked on making up a 14×12 brood box whilst he snapped away. He (and pricey cameras) got covered in shavings and dust but some nice piccys came out of it I think.
–> Here’s the link.
Thanks to Arv.
Used to convert a standard brood box to the increasing in popularity 14×12 brood box. Simply drop it into the standard brood box add new metalwork and it’s ready for 14×12 frames. I’ve just added it as a Peak Hives product in the left hand column.
Are we in for another winter like last year only much much longer??? For my bees sake I hope not (and for mine).
New for this winter is a workshop you can work in!!! Last winter’s cold snap that lasted quite a lot longer than one would think a ‘snap’ would last more or less closed Peak Hives down while the temperatures dropped far far below ‘glue setting point’. It was also physically very draining to be in there for any length of time.
So I’ve stumped up for some Kingspan and insulated the most exposed bits. It’s already a big improvement and the rest will be insulated over the coming weeks. As testament to it’s new found cosiness here’s a picture of the lastest National Hive to emerge from the new warm and snug work environment…
Bit of an odd angled view but it’s a large 14×12 National Hive in Cedar with Stand, 3 Supers and a Gabled Roof and it’s the only way I could get it all in shot.
Well no. There’s just two as can be seen in the image below. Western Red Cedar and Red Deal. In woodworking it’s not often you come across a timber that can have quite such a gamut of colouring as that of Western Red Cedar. As can be seen in the picture the leftmost timber is Red Deal but all the others are Cedar despite them looking nothing like each other.
Red Deal and Western Red Cedar have quite different characteristics.
Western Red Cedar has long been used for construction where timber is likely to come up against the elements. It has natural oils that resist insect attack and protect it from the worst the weather can throw at it. It’s also very light. This is a big advantage when one considers the weight a beekeeper has to lug around in a super full of honey. The reason it’s light is that it has a kind of honeycomb structure in the wood (i.e. lots of air pockets) which adds to it’s usefulness too in beekeeping in that it’s a good insulator keeping the precious bees warm in the winter.
Red Deal’s main advantage is price. It’s certainly cheaper and if you don’t mind the extra weight it’s perfectly good as a timber in National Hive production. It can also last a very long time IF looked after. Looking round town houses in neighbouring Buxton it’s remarkable how many still have front doors that were constructed in Victorian times. What’s made them last so long? Paint!
I’ve had a few requests for stands for our Nucleus Hives so they are a new Peak Hives product which can now be found in the left hand column under the Standard Nuc Hives and the 14×12 Nucs. The PH Nuc hives do look good when sat on one. They are (as are the Nucleus Hives) 221mm wide by the National Hive standard depth of 460mm.
Nucleus Hive Stand
A new product for Peak Hives and a few photos of recent items that have left the workshop.
After a suggestion/request from an experienced beekeeper from the Leicestershire and Rutland BKA Peak Hives will now be offering the ‘Apiguard Crown Board’. It incorporates a modification to the standard Crown Board adding a 3/4 inch strip round the normally flat side of the standard Crown Board. The purpose of the extra strip is to facilitate Apiguard treatment. Under normal use the board is placed with the beespace side downwards but when it’s time to apply Apiguard (a Thymol based product which used in conjunction with other treatments has so far proven effective against Varroa) the Apiguard Crown Board is flipped over giving the 3/4 inch extra space for the Apiguard tray to sit in. A simple modification but effective against the Varroa mite.
As with the normal Crown Board it also doubles up as a clearer board with the supplied Porter Bee Escapes.
It can be purchased either as part of a flat pack or assembled hive or seperately from the left hand column.
Here’s a few snaps of the new product.
Apiguard Crown Board 1
Apiguard Crown Board 2
Apiguard Crown Board 3
I think the photos more or less explain the way it works. Any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Now here’s a few photos of recent orders. We’re still very busy and this is just a snapshot of a few that have been made up and shipped to hopefully happy Peak Hives customers.
Recent Cedar Hive
Recent Deal Hive
A Couple of Flat Peak Nucleus Hives
Update complete for now. I have a number of products in the pipeline but have to concentrate on orders for the time being.
Here’s a 14×12 top bee space National Hive in Cedar. It’s for an order but I shall also be moving my bees onto 14×12 top bee space in the coming season. I’ve just about managed OK this year with the ‘brood and a half’ I got the bees on but I have to agree with Ted Hooper that a single brood chamber has to be better (easier) to manage and any help in making the transition from beekeeping novice to beekeeper is more than welcome!
14x12 Top Bee Space National
This hive has been constructed using a mix of bought in and locally sourced Peak District Cedar.
Now we have a printer that’s working I’ve finally printed up some labels for our Tideswell Dale Honey. It’s a simple affair and doesn’t precisely conform to the honey labelling regulations etc but we’re only going to sell around 60 of these jars locally.
Tideswell Dale Honey
With Peak Hives Nucleus Hive Ashforth Feeders. These two will be winging their way to their new owner on Monday…along with the other two orders my slave driving partner Adriana has instructed me to make up this weekend (yes, weekend!). Still, it’s better to have work these days so no grumbling from me!
14×12 Nucleus Hives In Cedar
Here’s a shot of the last batch of Peak District Western Red Cedar now ready for machining having spent the summer air drying. I’ll be doing a post in the next few days about converting raw lumber like this into finished National Hive parts ready for our pollinating friends to occupy. I’ve been today to see another local Cedar that has to be felled in the coming weeks to stop it falling on the owner’s conservatory. Better it’s made into National Hives rather than firewood (Cedar is apparently a very poor firewood anyway so I’m informed)
WRC In The Workshop
Holidays 2010!!!! Woohoo!!!!
Just finished for the 2 week hols. We’re taking the ankle biters to France camping. Euro Exchange rate could have been kinder but what the hell…this year has been about building up to this so we’re going no matter what.
Here’s a quick piccy of a 14 x 12 Nucleus Hive. The customer wanted a stand to suit so endeavouring to please I’ve made one up to the nuc size. The Nucleus was ordered flat pack but as a token compensation for her patience in waiting for the order I decided to build it up and throw in one of the small hive tools and frame lifters too. Must be the holiday season going to me ‘ead…
14x12 Nucleus Hive With Stand
All the best and here’s to bountiful honey crops for all. See you in 2 weeks or so…(and yes I do have work waiting for when we return but I’m going to put it well out of my head for the next fortnight)
A quick note before I head for the Cedar…news of some planned product improvements and workflow/customer service.
First of all I’m having a branding iron made for Peak Hives. It will allow me to brand all Peak Hives assembled products both inside and out with a unique serial number should the client request it. There’s been quite a few hive thefts in Derbyshire (see latest Beecraft) and as bees and hives come to the fore and increase more and more in value I think putting an indelible unique identifier on each hive is a good idea. The serial number will be the customers ‘PHXXXXXX’ order number which is unique to each customer and it can be burned into the timber as the hive is assembled so I can do it both inside and out in places that would make removal very difficult indeed whilst not affecting detrimentally the look of the hive.
Following on from that I’ve decided to implement a calendar widget on the Peak Hives web page where customers can check where their order is in the queue. We are a cottage industry striving for sustainability and mass production isn’t what Peak Hives is about. But we are a business and keeping customers happy is core to any business. The idea is that for every order received there will be a ‘PHXXXXXX’ serial number generated which would be sent to the customer. This would then be placed on a frequently updated calendar visible on the main page. The customer could then easily check where their order was in the queue and have peace of mind as to when it would be finished and despatched. There’s a bit of programming to do on the page so it won’t be done until this current busy period is over but it should be a helpful improvement in future.
Finally, I always like to put up some visuals so here’s a piccy of a couple of National Hives that recently left the workshop…
Standard National Hives from Peak Hives
The weather’s turned a bit unpleasant here in the Peak and due to my swarm control activities I have a new nucleus colony. I’ve decided to feed them up and made up a pair of Ashforth Feeders, one for a full size National Hive and one for my 5 frame Nucleus Hives. I tried the plastic contact feeders that most of the other suppliers sell and having been warned by experienced beeks that they were rubbish I can confirm from my own experience that they’re right. They are rubbish. I’ve decided to opt for the Ashforth as the best feeder. The other option would be the Miller but according to other beeks they are not as good as they require your hive to be perfectly level (and I know mine aren’t).
They are made of First Grade Cedar and have a bee space underneath to allow the bees maximum access to the syrup. The full size feeder can easily accomodate 10 litres of syrup and the nucleus size around 5 litres. I’ll be adding them as Peak Hives products as soon as the broadband arrives at the new house.
After dedicating myself to getting up at 5am and finishing in the workshop at 11pm for the last week I’ve finally finished Matthew’s 23 fully assembled Cedar National Hives. That’s 23 National Hive Stands, 23 Varroa Floors, 23 National Brood Boxes, 46 National Supers, 23 Framed and Wired Queen Excluders, 23 Crown Boards with Porter Bee Escapes, 23 National Hive Gabled Roofs and a partridge in a pear tree.
Here’s a piccy of Matthew (and Alexandra, one of mine) who runs Honey Bees At Home just about cramming it all in to a long wheel base Mercedes Sprinter Van. Many thanks to Matthew and all the best with Honey Bees At Home!
I am well and truly knackered but will be making up orders again tomorrow first thing…it’s a good job I love my workshop.
23 Assembled Hives!
Regional FERA Bee Inspector Tim Roper called round under the FERA free inspection offer (you need to register with Beebase in order to qualify for a free inspection and it’s definitely worth it. My opinion is that it in these times registration should be obligatory. Anyway, after looking at Peak Hives 2 colonies he pronounced them in good health. There was some evidence of chalk brood but not enough to cause too much concern.
The bees are now filling up the new super with drawn comb and there’s the ‘old socks’ smell of Dandelion honey. Tim says it’s quite nice to eat though.
Fera Inspecting Peak Hives Apiary
We’ve now got two strong looking colonies of British Black Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera) in the Peak Hives Apiary. On inspection the other day with our experienced beekeeping friend Carl we popped off a cap from a drone cell and there looking up at us was a fat and annoyingly healthy Varroa Destructor mite. Today I decided to start a monitoring process using the slide out trays on our Varroa floors which will be in the hives for the next seven days. When they are removed the mite drop will be counted and action taken if the mite drop is above certain suggested levels (see the Beebase page on Varroa and the very useful Varroa Calculator).
I read somewhere about putting oil onto the paper laid on the slide out trays to make sure the little buggers can’t get away or don’t blow away and in the photo you can see the two trays that went into the hives today at 4pm. On the right is just plain white paper and on the left the paper has been liberally coated with sunflower oil. I did wonder if the smell from the oil might cause fright to the bees. Perhaps someone with better knowledge could comment on that. Anyway in they went and now to wait for the results.
Varroa Mite Monitoring
It’s taken up most of the afternoon but I’ve just been down to Rowsley Sawmill and picked up the latest batch of locally sourced Western Red Cedar. I’ve had a towbar fitted to the Peak Hives Berlingo this morning and then borrowed my brothers 3/4 tonne trailer to pick up the lumber. It will now join the Chatsworth Cedar to be seasoned ready for making up into National Hives. The Chatsworth Cedar is feeling lighter by the day now and I’ve started machining up some hive parts with it. Cedar is an incredibly good wood to work and it’s characteristics are so well suited for beehive construction. Many thanks to Adele and Dave at the Peak Park for helping me get to the trees before they were chopped up for firewood!
Peak District Cedar
There’s nothing worse than woodworking for leaving you with egg on your face. It happens in even the very best cabinet makers. Just as this standard National Hive floor was about to leave the workshop to be sent out to the customer I decided to lay the tape measure across it and lo and behold it was 8mm short in one dimension! The workshop air didn’t quite turn blue but I did sigh with relief that I wasn’t going to get a call in a couple of days asking why my National Hive floors were different sizes to everyone elses.
The only solution was to quickly make up another as the rest of the order was ready for delivery.
To err is human.
The idea of turning the joinery workshop into a National Hives business originally arose out of my own desire to start beekeeping and a few months ago I was lucky enough to meet Richard H who offered a couple of colonies in exchange for equipment. Last week I travelled down (in the new Peak Hives livery) and picked up two hives bursting to the seams with British Black Bees. After a very nervous journey up the M1 I made it back to Tideswell and with some effort in the dark managed to get the hives in place. I was concerned that it might have been early in the year to bring colonies up here to the cold Peak but the bees were ready so delay was out of the question.
Yesterday I had a window of opportunity to do a first inspection and super the colonies.
First Bee Inspection
So far, to my untrained eye, everything looks good. Now to see if the combination of the often inclement (to say the least) Peak District weather and my inexperience as a beekeeper will not result in disaster. I will do my very best. Fortunately I’m with Chesterfield BKA who are known to be very supportive and also have a couple of aquaintances who are experienced beekeepers who might be able to lend a hand.
I’ve had a few enquiries as to whether Peak Hives will be exhibiting at Stoneleigh. I won’t be able to attend even as a visitor this year as I’m busy with orders and can’t spare the time. Hopefully I’ll get chance to get ahead of the game for 2011 and have a stand next year. To all of you who can get to it this year have a great time!
Hi. Answering a few queries I’ve had about fitting metalwork to National Hive Brood Boxes and Supers here’s a quick and simple guide to correctly fitting metal rails to the woodwork. The image is more or less self explanatory but the essence of the procedure is to turn the brood/super upside down and place some sized bits of timber (10mm for bottom bee space and 18mm for top bee space) under the metal runner to give the correct gap. The metal runner just rests on top of the wooden spacers while you pin it into place. Once done you are guaranteed the correct chosen bee space.
Bee Space Spacers
Time to squeeze in an allotment update…
Spring is finally here in the Peak District so here’s a photo (panorama of four photos stitched together) of where I’m currently up to.
Lots of red onions because my partner Adriana is from Peru and they’re used widely in Peruvian cooking. A new area for soft fruit (Blackcurrants, more Rhubarb, Autumn and Summer Raspberries, Redcurrants, various varieties of Gooseberries and more…) replacing a nettle patch that discouraged the family from venturing down to do some weeding/fettling.
Prior to this year the plot had been one area with treaded down paths every 4 feet or so and nettles all round. I was given some weatherproof boards back end of last year and slowly started making up the raised beds in the picture.
On the far right there’s one high raised bed which will be followed by three more of which two will be given to the kids to grow what they will and two will be used for root veg or spuds.
The panorama is perhaps a future bees eye view as I’ve taken the photos from where I’m planning on putting my two Apis Mellifera Mellifera colonies that I have coming in a few weeks.
With the order book so full I decided to work through the Easter weekend. By Monday I had a stack of Red Deal National Supers reaching up to the rafters of the workshop!
National Hive Super Stack
Completely cleaned me out of Red Deal. There’s more being delivered on Thursday and luckily I’ve a good stack of cedar to work on in the meantime. It’s a good thing that Andy came up with a transit van to pick up at lunchtime today otherwise I’d have struggled for room in the workshop.
Van Full of National Hives
Once he’d taken away this large order I managed to squeeze out a couple of Nucleus Hives by close of play. Phew! Friday is holiday! My boy James is doing very well at school and as a reward the lot of us are off to Alton Towers Water Park. I suspect that Saturday may bring more workshop time for this blogger but I’m going to allow myself a little R and R and enjoy Friday!