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       Should anyone discover that the Kenyan Top Bar Hive really isn't suitable
       for their style of beekeeping, here is one possible alternative to either
       selling it or resorting to the use of a box of matches: a simple conversion
       of a KTBH into a Deep Long Hive, dimensioned for 14"x12" frames.

       This example holds a total of 32 14"x12" frames at 34mm spacing, giving
       a total comb area well in excess of four standard National brood boxes.
       Thus, a garden hive with limited potential can very easily be converted
       into a hive capable of housing two very substantial colonies, and within
       the same footprint.

       All that is required is the addition of a floor and a few trimming battens
       at the top, with the method of construction being almost identical to that
       of the Mk.II All-Weather Long Hive. [LINK to follow]


And the KTBH seemed like such a good idea ...

When I returned to beekeeping after so many years away from the craft, I was gob-smacked at the prices being charged for beehives, and so I began looking around for cheaper options ... one of which was the Kenyan Top Bar Hive. I knew nothing at that time about top-bar beekeeping, but this hive promised to be an economical solution to my needs.
I'll be examining in some depth the claims being made about this hive in another webpage, but for now I'll just say that top-bar beekeeping isn't for me, and leave it at that.

KTBH beehives are indeed very easy and cheap to construct, and this is a shot of the hive I produced from pallet-wood without any major effort, and with it's sides being made from planks laminated in two directions (both horizontal and vertical) in order to prevent warping or twisting.



But having decided not to pursue top-bar beekeeping, I then set about attempting to create some frames to fit within this hive:




There are no prizes on offer for guessing that this idea was very quickly abandonded ...

And, as there was no obvious way to salvage this unhappy situation, the hive was duly consigned to the workshop after just one year of use.

However, after several years serving as a workbench (in which role the KTBH excelled), I decided to build a pitched roof for it and then convert the main hive body into a Long Hive, as by that time I had already built several framed Long Hives which had performed reasonably well. It may seem curious that I should decide to build the roof before converting the hive body, but this sequence was chosen as the roof construction promised to be the most challenging aspect of the conversion, and had it proved too difficult, then I would have scrapped the whole project and consigned the KTBH to the bonfire. So - let metal-bending begin ...

This was how the roof sides were formed using aluminium recovered from an old caravan:



The ends were made using scrap plywood as a template:



And this is one half of the roof about to be nailed in place. Once both halves have been installed, then their 'upstands' will have a flashing cover nailed over them, which should then provide a fully waterproof two-sided pitched roof.



At this point the main KTBH body was taken apart and reverted to 'flat-pack':



... and a new floor made, using the same technique as that for other Long Hive constructions, ensuring that the partial OMF was located to one side - and not central - in order that if required, the hive may be tilted to ensure drainage.



And here is the result, with only the filler on the end-plates betraying their previous use:



This shot shows the basic hive body after a lick of paint, and with the legs re-attached. A sheet of aluminium cladding has been attached to the hive sides, to give added protection from the elements, with it's bottom edge flared outwards to provide a drip edge, and all exposed contact points sealed with silicone rubber.



This shows a less than perfect arrangement of entrance holes, resulting from a lateral adjustment to the position of the end plates which occurred during conversion. The bees have yet to complain about this lack of symmetry.



A shot of the inside, showing the OMF strips at the side. The floor and divider were painted as they were made from reclaimed pallet wood which can often be prone to swelling if not so protected. As the walls had a small amount of beeswax resulting from comb attachment, there were left 'as is'.



Here is a shot showing the detachable webbing straps which have been fitted. More detail can be seen here of the technique used when cladding the roof.



And here at last is the finished hive - with a darker contrasting stripe added to break-up an otherwise oppressive wall of grey. Two Russian Alpine (Warre variant) hives can be seen in the background, the colonies of which were transferred to this Deep Long Hive just as soon as the paint had weathered.





At the time of writing this (Winter, 2016-7), this Deep Long Hive has been in use now for 2 seasons, and the results have been truly extraordinary. The hive was converted to take 16 14"x12" frames at 34mm spacing on each side, giving a comb area of two standard National brood boxes in each side, but with single contiguous combs rather than divided combs. It is this feature which has produced a very different brood pattern and brood comb useage than that seen with the shorter, standard oblong combs.
Indeed, this observation has caused me to now question both the size and shape of frames which are employed within beehives.

It has been as a direct result of this hive's outstanding performance, both in terms of it's prolificacy and the dynamic colonies produced within it, and an accompanying reduction in the need for instrusive management during the season, that the Hybrid 'British National-Dadant' Beehive experiment was started earlier this year.



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