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Thread: Stewarton Hive

  1. #1

    Default Stewarton Hive

    Is anyone out there working with the Stewarton Hive? If so would they be interested in sharing their experience of the legendary quality of this hive to promote supersedure rather than swarming?

    Eric McArthur

  2. #2
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    A quick search found a new one at a snip at £1800.

  3. #3

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    Hi Adam
    This hive design is for beekeepers with ‘different’ needs. I am not interested in buying one. Legend has it that the Stewarton Hive inhibits swarming – this belief I think is an ‘historical’ concept which has not been currently scientifically peer reviewed and become part of ‘beekeeping mythology’,
    Eric

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    I'm assuming you've seen this PDF of a document by the Rev E. Bartrum on this hive ... The Hive of the Busy Man. I saw one once at the BBKA Convention. Intricate and beautifully built.

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    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    "I am not interested in buying one". I'm not surprised at that price!

    I can't see that a particular hive can reduce swarming apart from the size of it as a congested hive will encourage swarming and a large one will tend to reduce it and I believe (can't remember where I've read it) will more likely result in supercedure later in the year rather than swarming. I don't disagree with that although I haven't done side by side comparisons myself to confirm in a statistically significant way.

    I do often have colonies in double brood boxes and a I do see (and like to see) supercedure.

    I agree that there's a lot of 'mythology' in the beekeeping world. I pick up old beekeeping books now and again which can be a quite fun read as there's practices in them that we would now describe as decidedly odd, sometimes, but once it's written it becomes fact. How would you dispute an apparently authorotitavely written volume without the possibility of a challenge or peer review?
    Last edited by Adam; 27-12-2019 at 01:41 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Stewarton Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by fatshark View Post
    I'm assuming you've seen this PDF of a document by the Rev E. Bartrum on this hive ... The Hive of the Busy Man. I saw one once at the BBKA Convention. Intricate and beautifully built.
    Many thanks for that! Your referenced publication ‘confirms’ the belief that the Stewarton does indeed inhibit swarming – and I quote, from page 39, 6th line from the top of the page: “…………but in non Swarming Stewartons these idlers…” A further quote from page 26, 3rd, 4th and 5th lines from top of the page: “Mr Cheshire gave some account of the instinct which forbade swarming with an unfilled eke………”. Cheshire was beekeeper of some significance at that time and is here, agreeing with the claim for the Stewarton. This book by the Rev., E. Bartrum is a fascinating read and gives a marvellous insight into the minds of the ‘old time Greats. Much obliged for your help here!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    "I am not interested in buying one". I'm not surprised at that price!

    I can't see that a particular hive can reduce swarming apart from the size of it as a congested hive will encourage swarming and a large one will tend to reduce it and I believe (can't remember where I've read it) will more likely result in supercedure later in the year rather than swarming. I don't disagree with that although I haven't done side by side comparisons myself to confirm in a statistically significant way.

    I do often have colonies in double brood boxes and a I do see (and like to see) supercedure.

    I agree that there's a lot of 'mythology' in the beekeeping world. I pick up old beekeeping books now and again which can be a quite fun read as there's practices in them that we would now describe as decidedly odd, sometimes, but once it's written it becomes fact. How would you dispute an apparently authorotitavely written volume without the possibility of a challenge or peer review?
    Hence my original request!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric McArthur View Post
    Is anyone out there working with the Stewarton Hive? If so would they be interested in sharing their experience of the legendary quality of this hive to promote supersedure rather than swarming?

    Eric McArthur
    Eric do you think it maybe in the manipulation of the hive through the season rather than the shape of the hive ?

  9. #9

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    Hi Hugh
    Just returned to the thread!! The answer is 'no! The seasonal management of the Stewarton has really nothing to do with its legendary 'Non Swaming' qualities. According to Bartram, who nicknamed the Stewarton, 'The Busy Man's Hive', in his excellent book; little or no actual wok, handling the bees themselves was carried out. A thorough knowledge and understanding of the swarm phenomenon is necessary to solve the mystery. A study of the behaviour of prime swarms when 'captured' and hived by the beekeeper, highlights the frequent occurence of supesedure of the queens of such swarms.. The Stewarton, non swarming/supersedure legend is based on the original setting up of the Stewarton in the early summer using a number of prime swarms from skeps. The ability of one newly hived prime swarm to build rapidly is in itself legendary; consider three such swarms . Hence the exeptional yields which the Stewarton was capable of producinmg. What experience did you gain from working with your own personal Stewarton during last year? Did you follow the original stocking procedure or did you work the hive with a single queen? The March, 2020, issue of he 'Beekeeper Quarterly' has an essay on the Stewarton in it, if you are interested?

  10. #10

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    A twist in the tale of the mythology surrounding the 'Stewarton Non Swarming Hive' occured on 20 May 2002: The legendary Stewarton Hive, managed as a normal 'hive' threw a swarm, in fact it quite literally 'disgraced' itself. Not only producing the swarm on the 20th, but also a cast on the 21st: On examination the colony exhibited 5 queen cells in various conditions; 2 with dead queens, 1 cell with the queen emerging and 2 cells from which the queens had already emerged. The hive could not be examined properly, since the frames cannot be readily removed and the beekeeper expressed the opinion that further casts could emerge. One swallow does not make a summer; but that the Stewarton threw a swarm is proof positive, that no matter what accomodation is offered to a honeybee colony it will ultimately respond to its natural instincts 'to go forth and multiply'.

    .................................................. .................................................. ....

    I received the following abridged mail on the 21 st May 2020.

    "Just to let you know that the bees in a Stewarton hive swarm just like a National. So you were right. We had a swarm in our apiary yesterday, 20th May, which we lost, also a cast emerged today, 21st May.. When we opened the Stewarton we found 5 queen cells: 2 with dead queens 1 emerging and 2 emerged. Since we cannot remove the frames hopefully that’s all there was; or we will have further cast swarms. ..........."

    As an aside I was astonished to note that this thread received some 1400 'hits' and nobody even ventured an opinion: How sad!!

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