Comparative influences of hive architecture in Apis mellifera fitness.

Final Report for ONE12-159

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Dr. James Harding
Green Mountain College
Valerie Hetzel
Green Mountain College
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Project Information


Hive architecture and its components as a system has not really been assessed to determine how overall design and management of hives impacts honeybee fitness. While bees themselves have been studied at great length in observation hives, and natural cavities[1], volume[2] and individual components[3] of hives have been evaluated, enhanced or improved, the top two most widely used hive types have not had a side by side comparison until just recently.[4] Top bar hives are often used in warmer climates and are most often found in tropical regions of the world, as noted in footnote4. Observance of honeybees in man-made hives via glass windows over the last 150 years has been used extensively for determining behavior, pest loads, diseases, absconding rates, overall health, and honeybee by-production production. Literature review also indicates, that the ability of the colony to regulate temperature and humidity levels and to defend the nest are pretty clear indicators of health.

Collectively all of these factors can be used as indicators of honeybee fitness.  But when determining health with little interference from the beekeeper, weight is the most widely accepted method.

Scientists have concluded that bees have a preference to volume of cavity, their entrances, and their hive location. Recent research on roughness of the hive cavity as it relates to hygienic behavior has come to light as well[5].  But the overall benefit of hive architecture alone and how it impacts honeybee fitness, had not been adequately assessed. 

The narrow focus of this research will compare the two most widely used hive types; the Top Bar hive (sometimes referred to as the Kenyna Top Bar hive) and the Langstroth hive as it relates to fitness of Apis melliferia ligustica (the Italian honeybee). The proposed measure of fitness was to use hive weight as the primary indicator, with temperature/humidity levels and pest loads as secondary indicator. This experiment was to compare which, if either, the Langstroth hive (Lang) or the Top Bar hive (TB), perform better relative to the other, in terms of honeybee fitness.

Since the majority (93%) of colonies did not overwinter (one, maybe two TB hives[6]), some measures were not utilized adequately, if at all, and historic and current literature review was revisited. We decided to look at peak weights of all hives over the period from May 26 to Oct 13th, 2013, to try find statitically significant results. (See peak weights in “weight total. pdf” below.) This broader review incorporating our SARE findings is outlined in a Green Mountain College Masters of Science in Environmental Studies thesis forthcoming, by the same title.

We conclude that a revision of this project would be worthwhile to undertake, to enlist the best of past and current hive designs, and apply building science discoveries of human habitation to the effectiveness of current hive types or to a new hive design altogether.This project compared two popular hive types: Langstroth (Lang)  and a variant of the Keyna Top Bar Hive (TB). Hive studies from both tropical climates and temperate climates, which looked at advantages and disadvantages of hives based on bee aggression and production were reviewed. For our project, sixteen TB hives and sixteen Langs were evaluated at four different locations in Amherst, MA.   Weight data at 1-3 week intervals, and external observation of the bees as they left the hive was collected.   Temperature and humidity data was collected during this period as well.  Because of summer losses in the project, statistically significant results were not determined as it relates to bee fitness.  Only two hives over-wintered, and they were TB hives.  However one of these hives might have been superseeded, as a dead cluster was found inside as well. 

Temperature spikes and humidity levels in the TB hives were higher than the Langs; this was significant.  Colony death may have been attributed to lateness of arrival of the honeybee packages or to lack of insemination of the queens.  This could not be determined.  Based on the findings and literature review,  we believe, that hive architecture can be improved regionally, and we can determine what type is best suited for each region.  Incorporating entomology and building sciences is an important step in improving honey bee fitness.

[1] Baum, K. A., Rubink, W. L., Wunneburger, D. F., & Coulson, R. N. (n.d.). Effects of Landscape Pattern on the Distribution of Feral Honey Bee Colonies in South Texas. doi:Knowledge Engineering Laboratory, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M Research Unit, Weslaco, Texas; 3 GeoInformatics Studio, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M

Seeley, T. D. (1985). Honeybee ecology: A study of adaptation in social life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (pg 11-13)


[2] Seeley, T. D. (1985). Honeybee ecology: A study of adaptation in social life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (pg 19-20)


[3] Zacepins A., Stalidzans E. (2012) Architecture of automatized control system for honeybee indoor wintering process monitoring and control. In: Proceedings of 13th International Carpathian Control Conference High Tatras, Slovakia. 28-31 May 2012.


[4] Ande, A. T., Oyerinde, A. A., & Jibril, M. N. (2008). Comparative Study of the Influence of Hive Types on Bee Colony Establishment. Int. J. Agri. Biol, 10(5), 200th ser., 517-520.

Aregawi, G., Tilahun, M., Gangwar, S. K., Gebresamuel, G., & Tesfay, G. (2014). Performance of Apis Mellifera spp. one honey and beeswax production in different type of beehives in Enda Mekoni Woreda Tigray Region, Ethiopia. Global Journal of Bio-Science and Biotechnology, 3(3), 324-329.

Cebotar, Valentina, and Buzu, I., (2012) Bee colonies comfort in different hive types. Scientific Papers, Animal Science Series D, vol. L


[5] Spivak, Marla, personal communication 2012 National Bee Meeting, Beltsville Bee Lab, Beltsville, MD.

[6] The second TB hive colony that overwintered was found further back in the hive body, along with a dead cluster in the front of the hive body. This could be a second colony coexisting with the first, via two queens. It could be from an abscoded hive from the project, a swarm from the project, or from an non project colony. Project design limited our ability to know how the cluster was introduced.


Experimental design and adjustments in the field.

This study was part of thesis incorporating a historic overview in the literature looking at advancements in hive designs, dating back from biblical times to today.  Over the course of the research period, current research on hives and hive comparisons was examined globally, and current hive development was discussed.

The hives studied for this SARE grant were the Langstroth hive, and a variant on the Keyna Top Bar hive. The measures we intended to use to determine fitness were weight, internal temperature and humidity data, and observable pest loads of the Apis mellifera colonies. The was a randomized block study using 32 hives and four apiary locations.

Each apiary location had four top bar boxes and four Langstroth boxes, enclosed by electric fence. Within each box, a three pound package of Apis mellifera (honeybees) were installed.  Temperature humidity data loggers (Lascar™ EL-USB 2) were placed inside the hives in the top right corner (southeast orientation)  and were set to record data hourly for one year, using recommended lithium batteries. Weights were recorded over the course of the 4-5 months.

We compared our results with other recent hive comparison projects and considered how we might incorporate building science technology into the mix.

Project Objectives:
Objectives met and not met.

We met our goals in terms of preparation of apiaries and hives, and starter comb for incoming packages.  We also found a clear way in which to weigh the hives with as little bee intrusions as possible, with the funds available.  We did collect honey and wax samples that could be analyzed for differences between hive types in terms of pathogens though this was not a part of this project. We also were able to produce 40 hives, and purchase 40 data loggers with this budget, as well as get our fences, wind barriers, and miscellaneous equipment with our allotted budget. We were able to provide outreach to the community, raising awareness of the plight of the honeybee, and different ways bees can be managed and contained at the elementary level and collegiate level.

We were not able to collect enough definitive weight and temperature/humidity data to draw a firm conclusion regarding the performance of each hive type relative to honeybee fitness.  This was due to several factors including delays in arrivals of packages, which was beyond the highest period of brood rearing of April-June (Seeley, pg. 41). We were able to capture some early weight data and temperature and humidity data, but due to the deaths of 30 of 32 hives we can not with reasonable confidence draw conclusions as to effectiveness of either hive type. Instead we can provide some graphical representation of the results over 4½ month period.  And we have concluded based on weight alone, there was no statistically significant difference between hive types in terms of peak weights or average daily gains.  (see gain/loss and analysis tab in excel workbook below.) More details to follow in the results and discussion section of this text.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Anne Averill
  • John Burand
  • Leslie Cox
  • Robert and Sally Fitz
  • Tobin Porter Brown


Materials and methods:
Preparation, planning, hive build, apiary layout, and installation of the bees.

This project was designed as a randomized block study using five apiary locations in Western, Massachusetts. Issues at two of the apiary sites caused this project to use only four locations.  The first group was located at the University of Massachusetts, (UM), the second at Amherst College, (AC), the third at Hampshire College, (HC) and the last group of eight hives was locates at Small Ones Farms (SOF).  A fifth location and an alternate location were pulled from the project, due to distance and/or partnership conflict.  Within each apiary four TB hives and four Langs hives were stationed on cinder blocks at a 60 degree arch with entrances facing southeast, south, or southwest. Each hive was crossed strapped, and the straps were bungee corded to the cinder blocks during high winds. Lids were of a different color for each hive type. 

Inside each hive, a data logger was attached to the top southeast corner of the hive. Each group of eight hives had a northern wind block and all were in full sun during mid-day.  Both hives’ maximum volume when if at full capacity, (including a second 10” super and a 4’’ inch honey super for the Lang) was roughly 108 litres.  Each apiary was contained by an electric fence (12 volt) either directly connected to a power source or to a solar panel (with the exception of UMass). All bees were installed on the same day, May 25th, 2013. Each was given a gallon of sugar water and roughly 4” x 4” squares of two-sided filled honeycomb.  Each hive type was also provided starter foundation unique to it’s design.  Each hive had a Lascar EL WIN USB-2 temperature (+-4 C) and humidity (+- 5%) data logger hung inside the southeast top corner of the hive.

The hives were weighed randomly between a one to three week interval, weather permitting.  These weigh-ins were obtained randomly between the hours of 11 am and 8 pm when the bees were likely to be foraging.  No weigh-ins were done in the dark or in the rain.  The bees hives were inspected twice internally.  Once to confirm the queen was released from her cage, the second when the feeders were removed.  No medications or dietary supplements were given beyond feeders of sugar water at the start of the experiment.  Feeders were removed when empty or after two weeks. They were also inspected upon clear death of colony, to try to determine causation.  This minimization of disturbance was done to reduce the impact of beekeeper intervention to the results.  The only intervention occurred when replacing one queen three days into the project.  External inspections occurred at all weigh-ins, randomly by either myself or by bee expert, Mr. Carl. 

Bee samples were taken twice via the entrance of the hive. They were placed in newly purchase Danby fridge/freezer.  The scale used to weigh each hive was a calf scale (Slater, Model 235 6S) with a degree of accuracy of +/- 0.3 which hung from a wench (hoist) Model # 7432HD RTP12 bolted to a 4”x4” oak beam positioned between two portable ladders. The hive entrances were reduced to three openings for the first week, for a total space of about 2.5”, and then opened all the way for the entire summer.  The TB hives had opening screens.  

The bees, Apis Mellifera ligustica, were purchased through a local beekeeper who purchased and retrieved them by truck from an apiary in Georgia, USA.  As the date of delivery was pushed back several times, we think was a large factor in the success of this project.

Frames and foundation were assembled, and 1 1/8” thick rough lumber (rough to promote propolis smearing (Spivak, 2012), and thicker to provide more R-value) The rough lumber was ripped to a width of 10” for the Langs and 11 1/2” for the TB hives.   The length of the boards were cut to 16 1/4” x 19” for the Langs and 18 1/2” x 11 1/4” for the end pieces of the TB hives.  The TB hives were cut to 40” in length.  The interior of the Lang when joined together with Elmer’s™ school glue, measured at 14” x 18” x 9 ?”  and the TB hives internal measurements were 39 1/2” x 16 7/8” x 11 1/2” X 11.1/2”, respectively.  A Porter Cable™ 1001 router and Porter Cable™, Model 4210 12” dove tail Jig were used in combination to make a half blind box joint to connect the four sides of all hives, and the lids and bottom boards of the Langs. 

Two 1 1/8” thick follower boards were built for each TB hive.  One of the two was 3/8” shorter to allow access to feeder. Telescoping lids 3” deep were made for the Langs, and the TB hives received a pitched roof with a 1” overhang.  The bars for the TB hives were made of white oak cut to 17” x 1 3/8” x 3/8”.  The Langs received the standard 1” x 18” entrance above the bottom board.  Reducers were cut and fitted into the entrance with three options for reduction (see Umass location image in Introduction section of this report). The roof of the TB hives measured 43 1/2” x 10” and triangular end pieces measured 17 1/2” x 9 1/2” x 9 1/2”.  The frames of the Lang were pine of standard deep dimension. Five, one inch holes were drilled into the top bar hives at about 1 3/4” from the bottom of the hive.  The back of the TB hive received one hole, centered at the same height.  The sides received two holes, each 4” from the ends, at the 1 3/4” rise from the interior base of the hive. The front of the hive received five holes, two at the same rise, spaced equally from the sides of the hive and to each other, and three more holes above them with similar spacing and rise.  Holes were outfitted with wine corks and screens (Lasco 09-2045 Faucet Aerator Cone Washer)attached to a wire  nailed to hive to provide ventilation and the ability to reduce entrances. Langstroth hives had standard reducer. (See UMass location images in Introduction section above.)

Bee packages (three pounds or about 10,000 bees) arrived May 25, 2013, six week later than expected.  They were weighed and samples were taken prior to installation of hives and stored in my garage freezer.  Hives were weighed every two to three weeks thereafter, or when conditions allowed. Queens were examined and fall samples were taken. Sugar rolls for mite levels were not done, as there were no observable mites.

Designing a feeder system for both hive types-that would release an entire gallon of sugar water over a two week period was placed near the cluster of both hive types at equal distances.  This proved to be a challenge. In the end, each hive got a gallon jug of sugar water (3:1 ratio), in an Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Glass Cracker™ Jar with holes punched in the lids. These jars were turned over and set on twigs to allow the bees to feed from below. The TB hives received these feeders beyond the second follower board inside the main hive body and the Langstroth hives received the feeders directly over the inner cover of the standard hives. Top covers were placed over entire hive of both types.

Each colony (in each hive type) had access to the feeders, with the Top Bar bees having to exit the comb area to reach the feeder. At the end of the two to three week period, all hives except one, had consumed the feed. The colony also had honeycomb or honey bags placed near the brood nest area.  Finally, apiary set up was in a semicircle facing south, to provide equal light filtration across all hives per apiary.

The Langs had a two inch telescoping roof and an inner cover with a top entrance.  The hives roofs were covered with water proof vinyl, as it was too expensive to purchase sheet metal. The vinyl came in four colors, lime green, yellow, hot pink and orange.  Each hive type received a color lid. At the end there were 4 pink TB hives, 4 pink Langs, 4 yellow TB hives... etc. The hive bodies, bases, and lid edges were painted a blue grey on the exterior to prevent weathering of the hives.  At the apiaries, about 18” to 24” of space was between each hive, to allow for ladders to be opened between hives and to receive the calf scale.  

Apiaries received their electric fences, mulch, and cinder blocks.  For the University of Massachusetts site which was on a roof top, we built a wind barrier, because there was concern about high winds lifting the hives off the roof and on to people below.   This roof location was only accessible by freight elevator, and sat between two other buildings, resulting in a wind tunnel effect.  The barrier was roped and sandbagged down to the building itself. No electric fence needed.  Hives, cinderblocks, fences, wind bariers were transported by personal vehicle over several weeks to site locations and installed.

Research results and discussion:

The apiaries were located in Amherst MA (N 42.406192 and W 72.521217) and the project ran for the period between May 26th and October 13th.  The average peak weight gain for the TB colonies was 22 lbs and for the Langs 17 lbs. The total peak gain for each group was 359 lbs and 305 Lbs respectively.

The hives were identified by location then hive type, then color, then number (1-45)* AC=Amherst College, SOF=Small Ones Farm, UM=UMass, HC=Hampshire College; TB=Top Bar, B=box (Lang); Y=yellow, G=Green, O=Orange, and P=Pink.

We had two surviving TB hives, in April (ACTBY34 and SOFTBG27), the latter was found to have both a dead and a live cluster inside.

The survivor (ACTBY34) gained a total of 55 lb., if we include the spring weigh in.  However, ACTBY34’s data logger stopped working about six weeks into the project. It was one of two logger that failed early in the project.    On average for the 4 month period ending in October, the TBs peak weights were 3 lbs more than the Langs (See "avgpeak.jpg" below).

The mean average daily gain until August was 3.7% for the TBs and 4.4% for the Langs.  This was determined by the fact that majority of hives were still gaining weight as of August 13.  This daily weight gain was not statistically significant. Thereafter, many of the hives began dwindling.

All of the hives died, with the exception of two TB hives.  Most died before winter. About seven hives were still limping along by October, but only four maintained or gained weight. The decision to not open the weak hives and wait until spring to see which over-wintered was made at this time.  Evidence suggests that the queens were poorly mated, due to weather conditions from the original supplier.  We anticipated no over-wintering success. However, on April 30th 2014, when all hives were opened, there were two survivors, both TBs; a yellow one at Amherst College and a green one at Small Ones Farm.  

The rest of the dead hives had the following conditions: seven of the hives, six of those being TB hives had dead wet bees at the bottom-an indication of too much moisture inside the hive. These hives had various levels of honey and brood.  Fifteen (five TBs and ten Langs) had no honey stores at all.  Sixteen had clusters still inside the comb, bottom facing out (seven TBs and nine Langs).

All of the dead clusters were found on the southeast corners of the honeycomb, from one to three combs in thickness.  One TB colony at Hampshire College had absconded in the first week.  Below find a graphical representation of the second survivor’s weight, temperature and humidity readings (SOFTBG27).  The most successful survivor (ACTBY34) had a faulty data logger that only recorded data for about 6 weeks.

The observable pest loads between May 25th and October 13th were as follows: a colony of carpenter ants in the roof of one TB hive, the bars in week one, and a single beetle was seen inside a Lang.  All bee colonies have a certain level of parasitic/host relationship and the ability to fight off pest. There was no evidence of deformed wing virus.  An occasional random internal spot check of a few individual hives over the course of the summer showed no evidence of American foul brood or Varroa.  There was spotty brood cell development - a sign of poor queen mating, and several comb with various levels of larva, mostly drone, and multiple eggs per cel, evidence of a laying worker. (See "evidence of queenlessness" image in next section.) About 12 hives had evidence of mice.

We compared the peak weights of the hives during our project period and found there was no statistical significance between the two hive types.  We also compared the average daily weight gain and concluded the same.

Temperature and humidity results were also inconclusive in terms of hive advantage to honeybee due to the fact that a dwindling hive can not defend itself, and it stores can be removed by robber bees or mice.  We did find that humidity levels were higher on average in TB hives, and there were higher spikes in temperatures in the TB hives (Due to limitations  of software conversion, request of 

Illustrator™or OriginPro™  temperature files available through Green Mountain College MSES program). We did an analysis of surface area to volume ratio in terms of energy expenditure and noted the Langstoth hive has a better surface to volume ratio for maintaining heat at .47, at a volume of 2299 inch cubed and a surface area of inch squared and the TB hive with 10 bars  had a surface to volume ratio of 1.1.  The TB hive has a very inefficient surface to volume ratio of 1.1 based on its volume of  1057 (ten bars). This is reflected in the overall temperature numbers. However, for our project period, that provided an advantage to the TB hive, in that the large surface area allowed heat to dissipate quicker.  in the winter time we can conclude this would be a disadvantage.  Cell size on average appeared the same on both hive types.  A longer analysis period,  and a minimum of two successful overwintering of both hive types could allow us to do a cell count to see if cell size differences were obvious between hive types. More funding would have been necessary to  allow for exact counts of cells per hive, if all hives in this project successfully overwintered.  This could have been compared to mite levels and we could have determined if foundation in the Langstroth hives has a net impact on fitness.

*some of our project hives were excluded, and two data logger id's were mislabeled initally,and sorted out after the conclusion of the project.

Research conclusions:

We did a literature review and noted that TB hives did seem to out perform Langstroth hives or vertical hives based on honeybee product collection, brood proficiency, and  absconding rates in warmer latitudes.  This makes sense based on heat retention of the two hive types.  The larger surface area of a TB hive will allow heat to dissipate faster under the overall hotter climatic conditions.  We also learned that the ideal energy efficient shape is a sphere, and a hive which needs to retain heat should be as close to a cuboid, cube, or sphere as possible.   We know that bees in nature cluster in cold temperatures, and most animals curl up to retain heat.

The building sciences field has developed to the point where passive solar homes are being developed both here in the US and abroad.  The focus on such buildings is site placement, shape of building, and glazing placement. By having a certain glazing to surface area ratio, and home in winter can gain heat and passively collect this heat in a large thermal mass, to be release over night.  The ideal shape for a home is a cube, due to the addition of furniture, etc., and how we use the space for habitation.  Honey bees however can fly, and a shape moving toward a sphere is ideal.  We need to consider the surface area to volume for cold climate bee keeping, and while we can not look at this project due to limited findings to draw more definite conclusions, we can collectively look at all of the hive studies and do some analysis.  Our two successful overwintering hives were indeed Top Bar hives, however, that may be due to a better performance in the summer, and those hives having a population that was ultimately able to rob for nerby hives and store more honey than they could have produced via foraging trips.  This in turn may have allowed them to successfully overwinter.The results were mostly inconclusive in terms of how hive architecture impact honeybee fitness, since we were not able to gain enough information due to our heavy losses.  We were able to determine that in summer, the Langstroth hives colonies retained the heat longer, and the TB hive colonies had higher peak weight gains. We also determined that the TB hive reached higher humidity levels relative to ambient temperatures, and had higher spikes in temperature over the Langstroth hives. We noted that the average daily weight gain of the Langstroths colonies was faster initally, but they died off at a faster rate as well (see "average.png", in results section prior).  Cell size between the two hive types did not show significant differences as we used foundation with a 5mm cell.  We did not count worker cells and drone cells per comb, we randomly measured and noted no difference between cell size on average. 

Because we placed our bee samples in a 1 year old freezer, we did not expect to loose these.  However the freezer was located in a unheated garage and died overwinter.  This was not discovered until spring, when we went to submit samples, and discovered moldy bees.   We recently submitted honey and wax samples to the Beltsville Bee Lab in hopes that they might see some differences.  (Funding for this sort of analysis is outside the scope of this project.)  We had issues with two of our original locations, one was simply too far and not suitabe terraine for my vehicle and the initial hive scale design.  The second site was also further out and the farmer was or could not meet the request of apiary set up, and we had to remove the group from our study.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Two honeybee demonstrations took place, one at Amherst College and the other at Small Ones Farms at the Common School in Amherst MA.  Upon completion of the thesis work related to this project, it is the intention of the graduate student to disseminate the results with some local beekeeper clubs.  The results are not sufficient for professional publications.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
Theoretical discussion of hive shape

Our Langstroth hive was only 27% less efficient than a sphere of the same volume. This is one percent below what is acceptable for an efficient home according to building design standards. ( If we made the Langstroth hive a cube, instead of a rectangle, of the same volume we could reduce this to 21.5%, becoming 5.5% more efficient. That would be a box hive of 13.2" x 13.2" x 13.2".   Since honey bees have a preference for volume this fits their range of 15-80 liters even after adding a second equally sized super.   This could theoretically translate to 5.5% increase in brood rearing in winter and honey production in summer.  If we made a spherical hive of the same volume at the current deep Lang super, we would see a 27% increase in production, theoretically. This is close to the new Sun Hive recently developed by German designer,Guenther Mancke. (see This hive was introduced in Britian in 2011, not yet sold in the US.  All other variables not withstanding, economically, if we had a healthier hive type, we would have less losses and more agricultural production, beyond simply honey production.

Farmer Adoption

I have only seen two apiaries continuing at the same location of the five original selection sites.  A bee farmer who had the skills to build his/her own hive, may want to consider changing the dimensions of a Langstroth hive to  13.2" x 13.2" x 13.2", using thicker rough hewn lumber, making it theoritically more energy efficient, and promoting propolis production.   Employing a Top Bar hive with a sloped roof as was our design might also retain the heat in winter, reducing the surface volume of top of the hive, thereby slowing down the heat loss.  It may be difficult for a non-beekeeping farmer to take the time needed to become a skillful beekeeper while attending to other crops.  There is a steep learning curve in beekeeping, and traditional equipment is expensive to maintain, procure, and store.  Hobbiest beekeepers may find this project useful in determining what hives to consider when keeping honeybees. After many trials by researchers in personal apiaries, we recommend at least two hives of the same type for emergency queen rearing, or consolidating of weak hives, not discussed in project above.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

This project could be repeated with nucs by an experienced bee breeder/keeper, to ensure adequate mating and overwintering success since nucs will have honey, brood, and workers already established.  By using nucs we would eliminate dependence on supplier delays, ensure a strong population at the beginning of the project, and ensure a properly mated queen.  We could eliminate the foundation and frame variable, by using bars in both hive types.  With more time and preparation, we could also provide five frames of natural empty comb with two combs of honey to eliminate the feeders.  We could make sure the volumes and entrance size and distance off the ground were identical. This could be a summer project.  We could then take from that project and reinstall equal amounts of drawn comb, wax and bees, with their queen and run a winter study, to see how each group faired over winter, and measure population growth and honey expenditure.  This would give us a baseline for which shape performed better in summer and which hive type overwinters better. 

For either concept we would include more data loggers that can be monitored remotely, which are available but more expensive. We could allow and pay for an experience beekeeper to manage the hives, and we would use a remote scale similar to what the USDA National Bee Laboratory uses in their research.  After we developed our conclusions on these successful experiments, we could redesign the hive using building science principles regarding energy efficiency to develop a more efficient hive.  We might want to develop a sphere shaped hive with building scientists, entomologists, and honey bee keepers to bring our efficiencies to their maximum capacities. The current Langstroth hive could be improved for our climatic region by applying building science principles, and the TB hive could likewise be improved. We could look at surface area to volume ratios of all hive types and determine which may be improved for both heating and cooling.  Perhaps a novel idea of placing hives on a passive solar collector when overwintering could help the colony at the apiary level.  Or perhaps a beter ventilation system could be developed using HVAC technology.


Our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Anne Averill, and Dr. John Burand of the University of Massachusetts for their help in securing funding, and UMASS apiary location, respectively. 
Additionally, we wish to thank Amherst (Book and Plow Farm, manager Tobin Porter-Brown) and Hampshire Colleges for providing apiary space and electric hook ups on their properties.  Thanks to the ground crews at both locations for mulching the apiary locations and keeping the grass cut.  

A special thanks to Bob and Sally Fitz, of Small Ones Farms, who really wanted to learn about bees, and put in a lot of thought and effort to prepping their farm for the bees.   We also want to thank Dr. Kenneth Mulder for providing statistical help with the project.

To Mr. Jeff Pettis, of the USDA Beltsville Honey bee laboratory, for your thoughts and advice on weighing hives.

To Dr. James Rinderlie, Chair of the University of Massachusetts Mechanical Engineering Department for spending some time with us going over shapes, volumes and hive design.

To the 32 or so local beekeepers who bought bees from the same supplier,  and replied to our loss survey.  Thanks for being willing to share your losses with us, in the name of science.  It is never easy to admit defeat!
To Eric Parent, programmer of Origin Pro™, who solved several computer issues along the way.

To Mike, general manager, at the Home Depot™, who loaned us a truck for free, to retrieve the bees at the fifth apiary.

I, Valerie Hetzel  also want to thank the carpenter/beekeeper, who’s name alludes me, who put 40 honey bee packages in the back of his truck and followed me home when I did not have access to a rental truck.   

To my advisor, Dr. Meriel Brooks, of Green Mountain College for her amazing patience.

To my parents, Cornelia Eschborn and Dr. Peter Dybwad, who value education and provided much needed financial, proof reading, and engineering support respectively during the project.  Thank you for the many bee articles over the last 5 years!

To my son, Collin Hetzel, who helped me take out the hives at the fifth apiary, and helped me at UMass and offered proof reading assistance.

Finally I dedicate this work to Mr. Alfred Carl ( Sept. 18, 1947- Oct 1, 2014 - 19, 2014) one of the kindest and most generous man I had met in a long time.  You offered you advice about bees and life in general, which was greatly appreciated. I will never forget how casually you picked up bees with your bare fingers, or when you showed up just in the nick of time to chased a bear away and righted the hive from my unelectrified personal apiary.  I know you had more stings, than you led on to that evening.  Thanks for the apples and laughs, Al!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.