Why Consider Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S) as a Hive Material?
Ultimately, Polystyrene is better for bees.
The thermal properties are our reason for saying this.
The key benefits for the bees are:
- Reduced stores needed and used over winter
- Improved brood raising capacity
The main benefits for the beekeeper are:
- Healthier Hives
- Faster Growing Nucleus Colonies
- Increased honey yield, especially over winter
- Vastly improved ergonomics
Origin of Paradise Hiveware
The Paradise beebox system is based on expanded polystyrene (EPS) and has 30+ years of product developement from Scandanavia’s largest beekeeping operation behind it. It’s been modified for use in beekeeping cultures all over the world. Over the last 7 years it’s use in Australia has been growing rapidly, as beekeepers discover that the insulative properties of EPS work equally well in any climate.
Other facts like; the hives will last for decades, they have great handles, they don’t rot, get waterlogged, get eaten by whiteants and are incredibly light and comfortable to use all come second to the fact that the bees respond well to them and they make more honey. It stands to reason that an energy efficient hive like an energy efficient building costs less to run.
The Features and Benefits of Paradise Hiveware
- The 40mm EPS hive is 6 to 9 times more insulating than a 22mm wooden walled hive
- Every honey super has handles that are comfortable and can be used from any side
- The interlocking design of all components makes the hive weatherproof
- The interlocking supers don’t slide on each other therefore stacking easily and transporting safely.
- The interlocking design stops lids from moving on hives when tied down for transport
- The entrance reducer/closer is simple to use and can be removed for summer conditions
- The screened bottom board can be used open or closed
- All hives can be used with metal or plastic excluders.
- The hives bases are easily palletised
- Hives are suited to loading for transport; on pallets, by trolly, by hand or with an EZYLOADER
- 6 of the 9 frame supers/kits can fit across a 2450mm truck
- A complete EPS triple kit weighs weighs only 9kg
- Each hive can be fed when required with a hive top feeder or through the entrance. The hive top feeder is especially useful for establishing comb in new colonies
- The Queen Trap System- a mid hive entrance can be created using the commercial base and closing the bottom entrance. Demaree principles should also be used to reduce some drive to produce queen cells
- The commercial base can be used to create hive top splits or reduce swarming using the Demaree method
- The commercial base can be used to construct a cloak board
What is the NUC & MATE hive?
- The Nuc & Mate is a versitile 6 frame hive with two entrances
- Divided it with a dividing board into two three frame comparments for mating queens
- Run with a double brood box it’s great for growing and making easy splits
- Run with an excluder and supers, it’s a 6 frame honey producing hive.
- It can also have it’s own 6L hive top feeder
The Frequently Asked Questions
What is the hive made of?
EPS- Expanded Polystyrene
It is a Class 6 recycleable plastic
Can it be recycled in West Australia?
Yes, EPS can be processed for recycling in WA.
Why use EPS to make Bee Hives?
It’s chemically inert and food safe.
It’s waterproof, incredibly light, lasts for a long time, does not support rot or mould, and provides no nutritional value to insects and rodents.
Expanded polystyrene is a structurally and thermally efficient material to make beehives out of.
How are EPS hives cheaper to own than wooden hives?
EPS hives cost MUCH less to assemble, require NO unusual treatment to extend their lifespan and have virtually NO ongoing maintenance costs.
The lifecycle or embodied energy costs for EPS are lower than any other hive to our knowledge.
To responsibly source, assemble and treat a wooden hive for an equivalent lifespan is more expensive.
Do they work as well as a wooden hive?
Yes, and in many circumstances they perform better.
What to expect when using EPS hives?
You will find the colonies over-winter very well and come out of spring better.
Through the year they can also make more honey.
Nucleus colonies respond well to an EPS hive, and grow faster than colonies in timber, ply or corflute.
Paradise EPS Hives are made under an ISO 9001 quality assurance system. The EPS hives always form square and are dimensionally stable and identical.
How do EPS hives compare to other plastic hives?
Most plastic hives have significant solid plastic, lower insulation value and weigh significantly more.
What do they Weigh?
About 8.1kg for a triple kit
- Full Depth 9 Frame Base- 1.9kg
- Standard Base, Lid and Entrance Closer- 2.15kg
- Commercial Base and Lid including Entrance closer- 1.6kg
- Hive Top Feeder- 1.15kg
- Queen Excluder- .25kg
How long will they last?
A service life of decades is achievable with proper comissioning and service.
Painted EPS and plastic parts don’t rot or degrade in the sun.
Like wood, all parts need protection from damaging UV with exterior paint. Most paints are good for 10+ years.
What maintenance will it need?
Like any other box they will need propolis cleaned from the top bar rest, burr comb cleaned from inner walls and bees and wax cleared from the top and bottom of the box.
The bees will keep the mesh base immaculate and from time to time wax will need to be scraped from the roof.
If varroa were to get into Australia, is this a varroa ready hive?
Yes, the hive base has a screened bottom board and area for a varroa test plate.
How do I clean an EPS hive?
The hive kit can be sanitised by washing with soapy water and soaking in a solutiuon of +2% sodium hypoclorite
Should you be concerned about AFB, you can euthanaise the colony with phostoxin and sterilise with sodium hypoclhorite.
Can I heat treat EPS to sterilise?
Careful steam cleaning can be used to remove nearly all pathogens. Extended hi temperatures can distort the EPS.
Treatment with clorine is an equivalent treatment.
Can I irradiate my hive?
Yes, EPS can be gamma irradiated to sanitise.
What do I need to construct an EPS hive?
Some external PVA glue,
A block of wood and mallet
How long does it take?
It takes about 10 minutes to assemble three supers and less than an hour to paint a kit.
What is in the kit?
Three full depth langstroth supers
A Lid and a Base
An Entrance Closer and Queen Excluder
What size hives and depth of supers are available?
Both 9 and 10 frame hive kits are available.
Full Depth, WSP, Manly and Ideal supers are all available
Why Don’t the hives have ventilation in the lid?
Because most of the time the bees do not need it. There is adequate ventilation through the entrance and screened bottom board.
But I want ventilation in the lid!
Especially for when I transport hives. What should I do?
To provide ventilation, a standard lid can be inverted and the hive mat or a propolis plate inserted as a screen.
Why doesn’t mold form on frames and inside the hive in winter?
The insulated nature of the hive stops any moist air inside the hive from condensing because the hive wall is not cold.
EPS is also chemically inert and can’t support mold growth.
How can I seal the ventilated bottom board in winter?
There is varroa test plate that effectively seals the hive. This is a good practice.
Does my hive tool damage the EPS?
Each super has very strong plastic reinforcing and interlocking profiles on the ends that stop the super from being damaged. It is possible to damage a box if you use your tool without care but you will quickly learn the best ways to break apart stuck supers.
Is there a pallet?
Is there a pollen trap?
Yes, local beekeepers are making pollen traps for West Australian condityions.
How do I repair a damaged hive?
While the EPS is strong and will survive many impacts. Should a super drop of the truck or trailer full of honey and break it can be repaired with screws and glue.
Will wax moth eat the hive?
Just like wooden hives, wax moth can damage hive equipment. Fortunately colonies in EPS are usully stronger and less at risk to wax moth than in wooden hives.
Can I put my smoker on the lid?
The commercial edition lid has an optional metal cover. If you need to put your smoker on the lid.
A hot smoker will eventually melt a lid if left for a while. Better you leave the smoker in your steel bucket as per summer fire requirements.