Traditional beekeepers may resist the KO1 Bee Hive with Apimaye Handy Frames. The hive is partly plastic, which might even seem offensive and counter to doing things the natural way. Langstroth and Warre hives have been around for half a century, so why mess with these designs? As it turns out, there are many features that beekeepers will love if they get past an aversion to plastic. The bees could benefit from these features as well.
After you take a look at the KO1 Bee Hive with Apimaye Handy Frames, you may get the idea that this is an advance for the hobby. The design works with the Langstroth system, incorporating a standard wooden box. It mixes the plastic components with wooden ones. That might make the transition away from all-wood hives a little easier for some beekeepers. The best part is that some of the plastic components help modern beekeepers confront issues like Varroa mites and hive beetles. The plastic is perforated precisely to help keep out the unwanted bugs and keep the bees and the Queen where you want them. That’s a big advantage over wood.
The Apimaye company started as Maye Ltd, a company founded in the country of Turkey by Muzaffer Yildirim. They introduced the “Thermo Beehive” and gained recognition and multiple awards for their innovative standardized and efficient plastic design. The hive system has caught on and is finally coming to America.
The Apimaye hive systems are catching on in the States thanks in part to a distributor in Tempe, Arizona, called Kaftan LLC, who distributes the Apimaye USA line of products. They are a family of beekeeping enthusiasts who first saw the Apimaye products when they attended the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations meeting called Apimondia in the same year they saw Apimaye won a gold medal. The innovative product impressed the family. After that, Kaftan LLC formed a partnership and began selling the plastic beehives in America.
One of the products from Apimaye USA includes the KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames. Please note: On Amazon, this kit is currently unavailable. It comes with ten Apimaye plastic handy frames with wax foundations you must install yourself. On the Apimaye USA website, the closest match is the KO1 wooden hive with Apimaye Hive upgrade kit. You can choose wooden frames with wax-coated plastic foundations or plastic handy frames with or without foundation material. We’ll take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of plastic frames below.
The K01 kit combines the wooden box with the plastic components. Keep in mind; you may also purchase kits with insulated plastic hive boxes with handles and latches if you prefer. The KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames kit seems to be a hybrid system to introduce beekeepers to Apimaye plastic components for a more affordable price. You can still use the traditional Langstroth wooden brood boxes and frames, which are available from just about any beekeeping source.
Aside from one wooden brood box, you will get a plastic top cover with a feeder for distributing foods like syrup or fondant, a hive cover, and a screen bottom with entrance reducer, pollen trap, and drawer. You also get 10 Apimaye handy frames and the wax-coated plastic foundation.
Insulation And Ventilation
Is this the next generation beehive? One of the reasons some people think so is thermal insulation. The company claims their Thermo Beehives are six times more heat insulating than wooden hives. They tout an insulation rating, or R-value, of 6.93. This rating is equivalent to the R-value of about an inch of polyurethane foam, one of the best insulators used in homes. Indeed, the double layer of insulation in the Apimaye hives is a clear advantage over wood boxes.
The Thermo Beehives keep the hive warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As an added bonus, they also keep the colony well ventilated. The bottom board features a screen that allows air to come in. The hive top cover features ventilation ducts and louvers. The company claims that these tiny openings can help regulate humidity in the hive, preventing outbreaks of yeast and mold that could kill an entire colony.
Advantages Of Plastic
The company uses “bee-friendly plastic” that is certified HDPE, or High-density polyethylene. This type of plastic is versatile, widely-used, and recyclable. HDPE has a recycling symbol number two, indicating that it is one of the three safest plastics.
Also, it is one of the least likely to leach into food. HDPE is long-lasting, impact resistant, and weather resistant. It resists rotting, mildew, mold, moisture, and (unwanted) insects. Also, HDPE is lightweight. Food containers and numerous household products rely on HDPE.
Apimaye uses UV additives to protect the plastic from the sun. When it’s time to clean out the hive, just pressure wash the plastic. You may also spray a solution of diluted bleach on the components. This feature helps contain and prevent outbreaks of disease. As one more bonus, you don’t have to bother painting or oiling the plastic. That saves time if you don’t like painting. You can order white or beige brood boxes in three sizes, including super and medium.
Cover With Top Feeder
To help keep your hive buzzing, you can feed your bees conveniently with the built-in top feeder. Underneath the insulated telescoping cover, you’ll find an easy-to-use system to feed either syrup or candy to your bees. There are plastic feed slot covers that read either “Surup” or “Kek” which seem to have been lost in translation. This actually means “Syrup” or “Cake/Candy” You can let your colony eat cake, such as fondant, or pour syrup into the collection tray. The smart design helps keep the bees from drowning in syrup or happily munching on fondant.
The hive boxes, dividing board, bottom board, and top feeder feature special openings to regulate how bees come and go. The boxes have green plastic circular dials that can be rotated to allow a larger opening to accommodate the queen. Or shut off the access point with a twist. The bottom board components feature an entrance reducer.
When the hive is strong, you can open up the hive to the outside world. When the hive’s defenses are low, you can slide the doors closed. The entrance keeps out pests like mice. Additionally, you may decide to insert a dividing board into the hive with adjustable openings. This allows you to combine two hives and get the neighbors acquainted to each other slowly.
Pollen Trap And Tray
One of the best features of the bottom board is that you can harvest pollen with it. There is a built-in pollen trap of tiny perforations. When bees carry the pollen on their legs across the board, it falls into a collection drawer underneath. You can slide out the drawer and voila! A tray of pollen is waiting for you. The company claims the tray won’t harm or disturb normal operations in the hive. You may also close off the pollen trap with a provided red plug. Use the pollen trap in combination with the screened bottom board. The perforations help keep out pests as well as ventilate the hive.
Insert the division and uniting board into the middle of a brood box. This allows you to introduce new bees slowly. One of the colonies must not have a queen present to avoid problems. Then you can fine-tune how the colonies meet each other or adjust to a new queen. The bees can feel each other out and become more comfortable before hives become one. Turn the three gates to close off all access, or open them slightly to allow pheromone exchange. After a few days, you can open the “doors” to let the bees start to mingle. It’s a great way to reduce stress on the bees.
Some beekeepers report that the plastic frames that come with the KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames kit are less likely to be glued together with bee propolis. A frame spacer can be placed on the top of the frames to keep them all separated with the perfect spacing. Note that the spacer can’t be used if the dividing and uniting board is in use.
When you receive the Apimaye plastic frames, you’ll need to insert the wax-coated foundation material.
This process entails sliding off the clips, sliding the foundation into place, and putting the clips back on. Some customers report these frames are a bit flimsy and that they can break if you aren’t careful. You can easily use traditional wooden frames and may be able to use the plastic spacer.
Sturdy Latches And Handles
The traditional wooden brood box that comes with the KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames doesn’t have this feature. However, Apimaye plastic brood boxes feature secure latches and handles that lock the boxes together. This is a real advantage when it comes to moving a hive at one time. Traditional beekeepers may prefer wooden boxes, and it’s great that you can use them too.
As with Langstroth hives, you can stack the beehives on top of each other. The KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames kit can sit on top of another kit with the top cover still attached. Or take off the cover, and stack the brood boxes above each other.
As we noted earlier, the KO1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames is currently unavailable through Amazon. However, you can order the O1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames from Apimaye USA. The price ranges from $$$ to $$$, depending on if you pick wooden or plastic frames. The wooden frames with plastic foundations are the most expensive option.
On the Apimaye USA Facebook page, you can see that customers generally like the customer service and product. They offer deals on their products regularly. When customers have reported difficulties, the family members have responded and gone out of their way to help. The product is still fairly new in the States, and some customers have reported that it took longer than expected to receive their shipments. On their website, the company explains that they are learning “the market demand and supply chain management.” They have taken steps to learn and are planning accordingly.
The O1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames has some long-standing competition that has been in use since the Langstroth hive invention in 1851. Let’s look at a few of the contenders. We reviewed beehive kits in the same price range designed to house a small colony of bees.
This Langstroth beehive by Honey Keeper comes with a deep superframe and a medium superframe. The kit is built mostly from fir wood, but the frames are made of pine. The Honey Keeper comes with a pre-assembled metal telescoping roof and solid bottom board. In all, there are 20 wooden frames with unwaxed foundations with hexagonal shapes. You will need to wax the foundations. There is an entrance reducer and queen excluder included with the kit. The part that may be prohibitive to some is that you must assemble the untreated wood hive with nails, and then you might need to paint or seal it. There are pre-cut finger joints as well.
The Honey Keeper Langstroth beehive ranges in price from $$$to $$$. Amazon customers rate it at 4.1 out of 5 stars.
Mann Lake offers a complete eight-frame hive kit. They claim the hives are made with the finest wood. The wood is listed as quality pine on Amazon. The wood frames are also pre-assembled with waxed foundations. The top is a telescoping cover with an inner cover, bottom board, and an entrance reducer. There is only one hive box, also referred to as the body. Although this offers just one box, you can build onto it with as many additional boxes as you want.
This basic kit ranges in price from $$$to $$$. Customers on Amazon rate it highly at 4.6 out of 5 stars.
After taking a look at some of the competition, some pros and cons begin to surface. Among the advantages of O1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames are increased insulation and ventilation. The screened bottom board also helps with ventilation with the added benefit of keeping out pests, and the pollen trap is a great way to harvest pollen. Other unique features that offer advantages are the dividing board, plastic frame spacer, and the versatile tray feeder that is easily accessible under the top cover. The plastic brood boxes could be preferable to the wooden ones due to insulation, attached latches, and handles, and because you don’t have to paint.
Disadvantages include that the Apimaye handy frames could be a bit flimsy. However, you can also choose to use wood frames if you prefer. The appearance of plastic could be unappealing to some. The ventilated plastic base isn’t insulated like the walls, so that could mean cooler air gets in during the winter months. However, we haven’t seen comments on this potential issue. One negative is that the product may take longer than expected to reach your home since the company is relatively new. We think that’s probably just a temporary issue that will be worked out.
Should you try the O1 bee hive with Apimaye handy frames? For a basic starter kit, it has many advantages to consider over traditional Langstroth hives. For more money, you can get the insulated plastic brood boxes instead of wood. If money were no object, that would seem like the best way to take advantage of all the features.