Friday, October 8, 2010

Ulster Observation hive

During the week long International Plowing Match, held in St. Thomas, Ontario, we had two observation hives available for public viewing.

It was very interesting to see the two different designs and to make comparisons between them.

One design stood out particularly as being superior and and that was the Ulster 5 frame observation hive.

This hive was made based on the design available for purchase from

This design houses 4 frames in the bottom section and then one frame rests on top as the observation frame.

The workers can move freely from the top to the bottom. There's feed in the bottom for the bees as well. The queen is forced to stay in the observation frame due to a queen excluder under the frame.

The other observation hive housed one deep and one medium frame. There was no feeder inside this frame so the bees would be required to eat their honey.

I think this two frame design is better suited to a one day event. I noticed that the bees wouldn't have access to water either.

The bees in both hives were still alive at the end of the week. The weather had been cooler all week which may have helped. At night both hives were covered with a blanket, leaving their ventilation holes open.

Observing both hives, the bees in the 2 frame hive were much more aggitated and they moved around under the glass like bees that wanted to just get out.

With the Ulster design, the bees were mostly quiet and slower moving, not so aggitated. Later in the day though the bees did tend to move around in waves, seeking a way out of the hive.

Michael Bush, a long time beekeeper, has posted comments on his experiences with observation hives. You can read them at
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