Medium langstroth hives, reducing weight and follower boards

It seems to me, being a total layman in regards to the flow frame, that if you made the tool-head, and the trough-base modular that you could “click” into place any height flow comb without having to make individual sizes for shallow, medium, or deep. You could just buy however many heads, and bases as you wanted and then whatever combination of comb-depth middles to suit your individual hives. Not to mention if you decided to change directions and go with mediums or deeps from another size you only have to replace 1/3 of the unit not the entire piece.

Though without knowing what the internals look like and operate like this may not work as easily. Just a thought for the future though…


Well, here is a description of the hive lift. The dimensions are for 8 frame boxes, for a 10 frame box the frame must be made larger. There is a U shaped frame at the bottom, made from angled steel bar with holes in it, bought from Home Depot. I marked the middle of the bar, then measured 11 inches on each side of the middle (resulting 22 inches between these points) and marked both. Then I cut with a grinder at each mark 2 cuts at 45 degrees, then I bent the bar at the cuts, resulting a U shaped frame. I used 90 degree steel brackets to reinforce the base at the bends. Then I placed steel bars underneath the base frame as hooks to secure it to the hive stand (which is a couple of 2x4s sitting on cinder blocks), I took a piece of 8 feet half inch galvanized electrical conduit, asked an electrician friend to bend it for me in a U shape with 22 inches at the top. I hammered the ends flat and drilled holes, then I used bolts and nuts to attach it to the base. I used 2 pieces of stranded steel cable that I attached to the base with nuts and bolts and clamp to the galvanized bar, so that it allows movement of the bar back and forth. When the bar is in the back position, the top of the bar is right above the middle of the hive and in the forward position, the lifted box is moved completely out of the way forward, letting me to work on the box still sitting on the stand. The crane was made simply with a ratchet to secure it from unwinding when the box is lifted and the stranded steel cable was routed through a couple of pulleys to the middle of the top horizontal bar. At the end of the cable there is a steel square bar with a hook in the middle and adjustable ribbons at each end. At the end of each ribbon there is a piece of steel shaped like a upside down trapeze with the corners rounded. 2 pieces of steel flat bars are attached with bolts to the trapeze piece at the bottom and at the top (the wider edge) the ribbon is attached. At the end of each flat bar there is a long bolt secured to the bar with a nut. These 2 bars have to be just a bit longer than half of the length of the box, so when you hold them flat along the box, there is about an inch play between the box and one of the bolts. When you pull up from the ribbon attached to the trapeze, the 2 bars will grab the box with the bolts. You need to have a a set like that on each side of the box. Basically, the cable pulls the square bar from the middle, and the square bar pulls the ribbons attached at the end of the bar and the ribbons pull the trapeze piece and lift the flat bars and the bolts at the end of the flat bars grab the box. Here is another picture with a close up to see the grabbing mechanism:

And a picture of the whole hive stand:

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That is ingenious! And your instructions and photos make it very easy to see how to construct it!

I am considering, for the location I will be positioning my hive in, making a modified version that would set up right over the hive when I needed it.

Thanks for taking the time to detail it out!


@Playapixie have you considered a horizontal hive- another flow forum user @WillB has made a nice simple design for a horizontal hive incorporating regular and medium langstroth frames: Top Bar Hive Flow Forum Such a hive would be a dream to work on I think- everything at the ideal waist height- perfect for pixies- never have to lift a heavy box to look in one under it- and seemingly very easy to manage the hive size throughout the year.

Why on earth didn’t I think of this myself??? I don’t have any extra deep boxes hanging around, but I am SO going to buy one so I don’t have to keep lifting those VERY FULL deep brood boxes. I end up taking every frame out to inspect anyway, so why not inspect the top box frame by frame, placing each into a spare deep after inspection. Then move to the bottom box, then reverse the process. Brilliant!

The problem with ‘mediums’ is they aren’t that common , and unlikely used outside of the US in much quantity. Luckily the standard langstroth depth is as close to universal as you are going to get internationally.

When you say ‘medium’ I assume you are referring to 6 5/8, 168mm depth?

This size is called Manley in Australia and I have never actually seen it used. I have only ever seen Full Depth, WSP (190mm), Ideal (146mm) and half (124mm) being used in Australia. As much as all the American centric literature would have you believe (including Wikipedia) that ‘medium’ is some kind of standard, outside the US I just don’t see it.

East coast Australia especially solve the top box weight issue by using 8 frame instead of 10 frame. The major benefit of running less full height frames to cut weight rather than changing frame size is that you can cycle frames up while still maintaining full depth (this is true for any configuration with uniform frame height), it also means extraction equipment and other tooling doesn’t need to be modified to accommodate the different frame size.