TBH’s have evolved a lot since I got my first one 2 years ago. I am getting a custom one made and I am trying to have as many features as I can think of incorporated to make it better for the bees, and the human operator. I would be interested in others’ ideas and your views on my thoughts so far…
Entrance: as large holes are tricky to guard (some colonies only seem to put one guard per entrance), I am going to try lots of little holes. I reckon twenty blockable 6.5mm diameter holes will allow even a queen to transit easily, but will offer a barrier to the larger hornets, and twenty guards will be better than a smaller number on a few larger entrances. Also they will resemble tunnels if the wood is an inch thick, which should help put off wasps.
I’m also considering making the entrance a removable slab of wood over a huge hole. Then I can experiment with different entrances such as a handful of large holes, hole position etc.
The entrance position will be at each end, not in the sloping side. But should they be near the bottom of the combs, or higher up? I have heard people say high entrances help avoid trampling over brood, I don’t follow the reasoning there. It seems to me that low entrances mean returning bees can go straight under the combs, where there is always space, to wherever they want.
I don’t understand what landing boards are for. We have two identical hives, one has a landing board I bodged on; if anything its colony is weaker than the other.
Walls: one inch thick cedar.
Window: full length window one one side. Possibly both sides.
Base: hinged mesh with sliding baseboard. So the hive floor can be cleaned easily; I have the choice of ventilating on really hot days; or closing the baseboard up for maximum insulation in winter.
Angle of wall slope: I’ve seen a modern TBH which has a much nearer-vertical side wall than the ones I have. Thus resulting in squarer combs. Why have people gone to this angle? Is there some huge advantage? It would be awkward if our hives had non-interchangeable accessories.
Horizontal feeder below roof: Gareth uses one of these, it’s quite clever, no drowned bees and easy to refill without opening the hive itself. I assume it requires a bigger space under the roof.
Bars: integral reinforcing dowels for the comb. Selection of spacers.
Well, that’s as far as I’ve got so far. I would hate to have the hive delivered and kick myself because I hadn’t heard of a new development. Any other ideas I can steal? Particularly things I haven’t covered so probably haven’t thought of – handles to lift it with, hinged roof, teflon coated legs to stop ants climbing up…