HIVE: What is the “Dadant Beehive”?

9 October 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)

            I titled this “What is the ‘Dadant Beehive’?”  Or did I mean the “Dadant-Blatt Beehive”?  Or did I mean the “Modified Dadant Beehive”?  Or did I mean the “Langstroth Jumbo Beehive”?  Read on for the answer . . . .

Charles Dadant was born in France, but moved the United States in 1863 to start a vineyard.  When the vineyard failed, he turned, for a living, to a hobby he’d learned in France, beekeeping.

Immensely resourceful, Dadant taught himself English by reading the newspaper and became a salesman selling wares from his new country, the United States, while traveling in his old country, France. Dadant’s bee yard (apiary) grew steadily and continues in operation to this day.

Dadant would go on to found one the first factories manufacturing beekeeping tools.  And, after making extensive contributions to beekeeping journals, he acquired the American Bee Journal, which his family continues to publish today.  He was one of the first to import Italian Bees (our modern honeybee) into the United States.

Dissatisfied with traditional methods of beekeeping, Dadant translated the relatively new work of Lorenzo Langstroth’s The Hive and the Honey-Bee into French and introduced Europe to the innovations the Langstroth hive design.

Lorenzo Langstroth discovered that, by maintaining certain precise measurements among multiple frames and beehive walls, bees could be induced to build individual honeycombs in individual frame drawers.  This allowed beekeepers, for the first time, to remove honeycombs and harvest honey will little or no disruption of, or destruction to, the remaining hive.  The honeybees, freed from the labor of repairing damage from honey harvesting, devoted their efforts to gathering and storing yet more honey more quickly.

Today, most all commercial hives are technically called “Langstroth” hives, in the sense that they use Langstroth’s precise frame/wall measurements to assure removable individual honeycombs.  But these same hives can, and do, differ greatly in other ways providing numerous special advantages to particular beekeepers.

So, next, Dadant turned his attention to developing an ideal beehive for his own bee yard.  Incorporating the Langstroth drawer design and proportions, he used slightly larger frames than those that were, and are, used the common Langstroth design.

These slightly larger frames had been developed by hive-designing pioneer Moses Quinby.  It only seemed practical for Dadant to keep the slightly larger Quinby-sized frames because of the cost of replacing all of his existing frames.  Also, Dadant had recently developed honey-harvesting tools, which were designed to work most effectively with the slightly larger frames.  The larger frames produced a slightly larger (and in some ways) more productive hive for some regions and climates.

So, the Dadant hive was standardized into a slightly larger hive to fit slightly larger Quinby-sized frames and included the precise Langstroth measurements to assure easy honey harvesting.  The final result is called the Dadant-Blatt hive.  Or is it called the Modified Dadant hive?  Or is it called the Langstroth Jumbo hive?  If you guessed all three names describe the same hive, you’re right.

Again, whether it’s called “Dadant-Blatt,” “Modified Dadant,” or “Langstroth Jumbo” it’s the same hive.

Dadant Beekeeping Supplies & American Bee Journal 

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