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Things I Did Not Invent

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"Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honoured by posterity because he was the last to discover America"--James Joyce
"The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us."--Ecclesiastes 1:9,10

From time to time someone accuses me of trying to take credit for some idea or another. So just to clarify, I am not trying to take credit for inventing anything and here is a list of a few of the things that I did not invent:


Not only did I not invent this (obviously the bees did) and I did not discover this (obviously it has been used for a long time), we probably don't know who did. The Greeks figured out how to space the combs to get it between the combs. Huber measured it with quite a bit of accuracy. Langstroth didn't even invent the idea of using it around frames. Jan Dzierzon did that well before Langstroth. So probably you could say the Langstroth hive was invented by Jan Dzierzon.

Eight Frame Hive
Using All Mediums

I am not sure who first tried to convince others to try it but Steve at Brushy Mt. Has been suggesting this for a long time. So have many others. I'm actually a recent convert (started converting about 2003 or so after 31 years of beekeeping) I just think it's a good idea.

Eight Frame Hive Next to Ten Frame Hive
Using 8 frame boxes

They were invented more than 100 years ago. Probably about 150 years ago. Kim Flottum has been a proponent for a very long time. C.C. Miller, and Carl Killion also. I just think they are a good idea.

Beekeeping, KTBH Comb
Top Bar Hives

The Greeks invented them several thousand years ago. They also invented the idea of a comb guide on the bars. I built one based on the Greek basket hive out of wood back in the 70's before I'd seen a modern one. But the idea was from the Greeks. Mine was not a long hive (I hadn't thought of that yet) so it wasn't very useful and when I saw an article in ABJ back in the early 80's with a picture of a Kenya Top Bar Hive I realized they had already perfected what I had tried to copy from the Greeks.

Foundationless Frame
Foundationless Frames

These have been in use for a very long time. Jan Dzierzon, Huber, Langstroth and many others had foundationless frames. All of them really based on the Greek basket hive's top bars. Something close to what I now make is in Langstroth's book and his patents and Kings books. A.I. Root and other early beekeeping supply houses manufactured them for years. More recently Charles Martin Simon has tried to repopularize them. I do think they are a great idea.

Narrow Frames

These have also been in use for a very long time. I can't find exact measurements on the Greek basket hives, but Huber used 1 ¼" frames in the late 1700s. Many proponents over the years have used them and suggested them. Koover, more recently was a proponent. The Russians did studies on them and concluded that they had less Nosema, and more brood rearing with the narrower frames. I just think they are a good way to get small cell more quickly and, also, to get 9 frames of nice straight brood comb in my eight frame brood boxes.

Beekeeping Long Hive
Long Hives

I did come up with the idea when I hadn't seen one, but it was just an attempt to solve the problems of lifting full deeps for an old lady who loved bees and had a bad back. But others invented it long before I thought of it. It's an obvious idea if you're trying to solve the problem of lifting boxes. It has been around for centuries. It is still the most popular arrangement for a hive in the world, even today, and is popular from Northern Europe to the Middle East to Africa and beyond.

Smoker Insert
Smoker Insert

The soupcan insert that I make is just a copy, except made from a free tin can, of the one in the Rauchboy smoker. I certainly did not invent it, but I like it and simply wanted to convert all my smokers. So I made them from an old tin can. Probably someone did it before Rauchboy the same way.

Eight Frame Hive Next to Ten Frame Hive
Not Painting Hives

This was not my idea. It is, of course, an obvious step for any lazy beekeeper, but C.C. Miller, G.M. Doolittle and Richard Taylor published the concept long before I did.

"Following the teachings of G. M. Doolittle, in whose ideas I have great confidence, I think there is better chance for the moisture to dry out of unpainted hives than out of painted ones. I have seen a painted hive in my cellar damp and moldy when all the unpainted ones were in much better condition."--C.C. Miller
Beekeeping, 4.7mm Comb Measurement
Small Cell Beekeeping

Of course the bees invented natural cell size. Lusbys, as far as I can tell, were the first to associate it with disease prevention and bee health. I'm a late player in the small cell game. Lusby's started in 1984. I started in late 2001 based on reading and lurking on www.beesource.com.

Migratory Top Entrance
Top Entrances

I'm not sure who all has tried this over the years or who to give credit to. Someone was quoting some Eastern European beekeeper who credits top entrances with all sorts of benefits that I have not observed, but I have found it a simple way to keep bees while resolving several problems I had with pests and ventilation. Lloyd Spears was certainly doing it and being a proponent of it long before I came along and he is where I got the idea for using shingle shims to hold up the lid.

Swarm Cells
Opening the Brood Nest

I'm not sure who first tried opening the brood nest for swarm prevention. It's another mystery to me. I've been doing it for years because I read it somewhere. At first I thought I was just helping the bees keep the broodnest open because they somehow accidentally fill it with nectar, commonly called "honeybound" in the old bee books, which causes them to swarm. Eventually I began to realize it was their intention to fill it in order to swarm. But regardless of the reason. Keeping it open avoids them swarming. Various people over the years have used, encouraged, and named this various things and done variations of the implementation. The end result is still the same. An expanded brood nest that heads off swarming.

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Copyright 2008 by Michael Bush

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