HIVE: What is a “Perone Beehive”?

1 January 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

Developed by Oscar Perone, the Perone Hive is designed to provide as natural an environment for a bee colony as is possible in a manufactured hive. The idea is to allow, and even facilitate, the natural behaviors of the colony.

The Perone Hive is unusual because it is a top-bar, but not a long-box, hive. Most top bar hives have one oblong box extending horizontally.

Typical “Long-Box” Hive – One Long Horizontal Box

Typical “Long-Box” Hive – One Long Horizontal Box

Bars are placed over the box – body of the hive – to allow the beekeeper maximum access to all the combs built by the bees.

Bars on Top of an Open Long-Box Hive  -  Bees Build Honeycomb Hanging from a Top Bar

Bars on Top of an Open Long-Box Hive       –   Bees Build Honeycomb Hanging from a Top Bar

But the “long-box” of the Perone hive is set up vertically — or on its end.  Bars are placed over the relatively small end at the top.   From a distance, this hive has the profile of a standard commercial beehive like the Langstroth or British Standard.  But, these hive are quite different and typically use frames in drawers rather than top-bars.

H-14 PERONE HIVE PHOTOAgain, with the Perone hive, only top-bars are placed over the upper section of the hive. That upper portion (upper third) of the hive is called the “beekeeper’s part.” The lower part (lower two-thirds) of the vertical long box is called the “bees’ part” of the hive.H-14 PERONE HIVE DIAGRAM

The names “beekeeper’s part” and “bees’ part” are intended to be taken quite literally. From the upper one-third, the “beekeeper’s part,” bars are removed when the honey is harvested.  But the Perone hive and system require that the “beekeeper’s part” be opened only once a year – to harvest the honey.

The “bees’ part,” the lower two-thirds, is never disturbed (or checked) by the beekeeper. The bees enjoy absolute, perpetual privacy in their lower section. The hive is not designed to allow the beekeeper any convenient internal access to the “bees’ part.”

The Perone Hive is criticized for its inaccessible sections, the “bees’ part.” The large size of the hive promotes the development of a super colony, but the lack of access to the “bees’ part,” some say, can allow diseases to spread within the colony and will increase the seriousness of Verroa mite infestations.

But Perone responds that, in practice, the Perone hive promotes and maintains much larger and healthier colonies than other commercial beehives.  Access to the “bees’ part” would allow beekeepers to “treat” the bees for Verroa mite infestations.  But all such “treatments” are controversial and are known to possibly injure the bees, themselves.

Perone says that bees have three basic needs. If those needs are met, the bees stay healthy. Those needs are: (1) Lots of Space, (2) Lots of Honey, and (3) Lots of Peace. When all three needs are met, as they are with the design of the Perone hive, the result is “large, powerful colonies that are capable of managing disease, Varroa, and cold winters without chemical treatments or expensive equipment.”

A typical Perone hive might stand about six feet in height, with its width (sides) measuring just a bit under two feet.

Oscar Perone, himself, gives excellent instructions to guide the reader in building a Perone hive, but also, in the process, discusses the design features, their purpose as well as the beekeeping philosophy promoted by his hive’s design. Please see Oscar Perone’s pdf – Making a Perone Hive – The PermApiculture Way

mark signiture

of Hazelwood, Missouri & Belleville, Illinois

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