The Langstroth beehive and Hoffman frame are recognised worldwide as the most efficient and effective system to base a substantial beekeeping operation on. The size adjustability for different seasons and controlled comb building make the beekeepers (tough) job so much easier. However, when it comes to durability and protection the typical materials (wood or plastic) used to make these beehives make the beekeepers job much tougher.
Weathering and wood parasites/pests force beekeepers to undertake arduous maintenance prtocedures every few years. The wooden hives have to be treated with chemicals to keep the bugs and water out, while plastic (leaving aside the environmental and bee health issues) the hives have to be painted to protect them from the sun. In many areas these weak beehives are often destroyed by fires, bears, badgers, monkeys, vandals and conflict. While the light weight of the standard wooden and plastic hives is great for the beekeepers back, and for migratory pollination beekeeping (also won't get into the issues on that one), it means that other people can also carry the hives away easily, with theft becoming a serious problem all over the world.
Enter the Bee Bunka, the lightweight-concrete Langstroth style beehive. Compatible both with the standardised measurements and the issues threatening beekeeping all over the world.
No need to change your frames, excluders, feeders, inner-covers or any other standardised componentry. Just a better box for the bees to go into.
Based on the most common modern beekeeping system the Bee Bunka is standardised, efficient and highly productive, typically requiring a centrifugal spinner to extract the honey from comb built onto strong wooden frames. Alternatively the comb can also be harvested from the frames and strained/seived - a cheaper method that also produces wax.
Made from a lightweight-concrete mixture, with steel-reinforcement, the permanent concrete beehives are resistant to theft, vandalism, pests, fires, harsh weather and badgers. The durable concrete does not need to be maintained and insulates the interior space - assisting in the regulation of the internal temperature, reducing energy consumption and increasing honey yeild (see research blog). The Bee Bunka comprises of three main parts: a brood chamber (241 mm deep) with an attached floor and front entrance; a shallow (145mm deep) super chamber; and a telescopic lid. The chambers each take 10 x 35mm frames (11 x 32mm). The hive takes a normal queen excluder and any type of inner cover. The hive components all interlock and can can be locked easily with a chain or cable. The components can be fire treated to remove bacteria.
The Bee Bunka is made to be a permanent (sedentary) beehive. The brood chamber can be moved by 2 people when empty, but should be seen as a fixed part once installed and occupied. The super and lid are moveable parts (under 23kgs) that one person can lift, although we advise working in pairs. During inspections and harvesting full frames should be removed from the supers before lifting the chambers off.
The beehives can be purchased directly from Beegin as fully cured, professionally-finished, ready-made concrete components. The price is similar to what you may expect to pay for a standard wooden hive. The components can be purchased seperately or as whole beehive unit, (we recomended at least two supers for the Bunka). The tables below reflect the prices of the various components. These are marked up from the cost to cover the expenses of Beegin as a business, and if you are interested in the cost of making each hive yourself using the moulds, the cost is roughly half that of the price (bearing in mind the cost of mould amortisation).
Exactly how heavy is lightweight concrete and what does it mean for my back?
This concrete is about half the weight of regular concrete, but it is still concrete, so it is much heavier than standard wooden beehives. We advise that you use a partner when inspecting and harvesting from these beehives. You should be able to move the lid and empty supers (23kg each) on your own, but we cannot be held responsible for failure to lift with your legs. The brood chamber (60kg) must be moved with two people. These beehives are designed for sedentary beekeeping - meaning the hives become permanent installation once they have a swarm of bees. Of course they can be moved, but the swarm must first be placed into a travelling hive.