A Styrofoam or dense expanded polystyrene hive is a new design in the beekeeping industry. Beekeepers are increasingly using modern materials to create bee houses. Since classic polystyrene or expanded polystyrene is cheaper than wooden structures.
About the material
Plates of polyurethane foam and PPP are more widely demanded in industrial construction than other foamed polymers. The structure of the material is similar to foamed foam. Consists of polyurethane foam and polystyrene foam from synthetic polymers filled with gas.
Expanded polystyrene and polyurethane foam are endowed with a number of advantages:
- high waterproofing;
- good adhesion;
- low steam permeability;
- low thermal conductivity.
The material is not moldy. It is not spoiled by rodents. PPU and PPS are resistant to mechanical stress, have a low specific weight and provide good sound insulation. But it is worth emphasizing that styrofoam hives are highly flammable and deformed from direct sunlight. Therefore, the material is hidden from aggressive ultraviolet radiation.
Characteristics of the hives
Domestic beekeepers rarely make houses from expanded polystyrene and polyurethane foam. Plates are used in the construction sector for laying high thermal insulation. However, a new type of structure made of lightweight and durable material is still being tested by private apiaries.
Externally, hives made of polyurethane foam and expanded polystyrene are similar. Plates differ in characteristics. Penoplex hives are not durable. Since the density of the material is low and prone to crumbling. But PPU is denser in composition. At the same time, houses from both types of stove turn out to be warm. In winter, bee hives do not need additional insulation. And in summer, the walls create a protective barrier from the heat.
Structures made of polyurethane foam and PPP are resistant to:
The PPU hive must be protected from open fire. Because this material is highly flammable.
Factory-made PPU houses are practical. They are easy to maintain and replace parts when parts are worn out. Making beehives from expanded polystyrene with your own hands is within the power of a beekeeper. At the same time, it is not necessary to additionally insulate the bee houses.
Made of expanded polystyrene (PPS)
Styrofoam hives are made relatively recently. The material is popular because:
- PPP is resistant to moisture;
- well ventilated in winter and summer;
- if the expanded polystyrene hive is damaged, repairs can be performed;
- economy in operation.
Bees living in the house from the PPS less often, go into a swarming state and develop better. Styrofoam houses are easier to transport to a new site.
Blueprints are required to make Styrofoam hives. The production technique of bee houses is not complicated. But, it should be noted that expanded polystyrene is a fragile material that must be handled carefully.
Polyurethane foam (PPU)
PPU hives are constructions made of modern materials. In European countries, polyurethane foam boards are widely used in apiaries. Although polyurethane foam is a synthetic material, it is completely insect safe. The Czech beekeeper Petr Havliceka has been testing hives made of polyurethane foam for several years and determined:
- in such a house, insects develop their own microclimate and families begin to develop from early spring;
- each bee colony builds at least 1 foundation box;
- all families are strong and give up to 90 kg of honey in one season;
- reduction of the nest is not required for the winter. This simplifies the maintenance of the apiary;
- to avoid swarming from mid-May, beekeepers make layering. And by winter they unite separated families.
For protection, the structure is upholstered with aluminum foil.
Advantages and disadvantages
Traditional wooden structures are in many ways inferior to houses made of polyurethane foam and PPP:
- expanded polystyrene hives do not rot or mold;
- high thermal insulation characteristics;
- polyurethane foam hives are safe for insects and people;
- good sound insulation;
- small weight of the finished hive;
- the house is roomy and suitable for a large bee family;
- easy to assemble and disassemble;
- protected from overheating in summer;
Polyurethane foam bee hives are easy to disassemble. Since all elements are interchangeable, the finished structure can be increased or decreased in size.
The PPU houses also have disadvantages:
- hulls are not cleaned of propolis. Together with the valuable substance, crumbs of PPP and PPU fall off;
- problems with performing disinfection;
- the released condensate accumulates at the bottom of the hive. Since the material does not absorb moisture;
- low strength.
Another disadvantage of PPU is lightness. In case of strong gusts of wind or storms, the hives can be carried away. Therefore, it is required to strengthen the structures.
How does the material affect the quality of honey
The first hives PPU and PPP were made by Poles and Finns. Later, domestic beekeepers began to use the material. Our beekeepers were wary of polyurethane foam. Since styrene accumulates in the body of insects and in bee products. However, no scientific confirmation of the harmfulness of the polyurethane foam material was found. As studies show, styrene accumulations are scanty and safe for insects and melliferous products.
The SES services are not involved in checking the hives from the polyurethane foam. Examinations have proven that the material is completely safe, does not affect the quality of honey and can be used for the construction of apiaries.
How to make a beehive of PPP with your own hands
To make a beehive of expanded polystyrene with your own hands, you will need drawings and PPU plates. For bee houses, a material with a thickness of 50 mm is chosen. The higher the density of the board, the better the sound insulation and the lower the thermal conductivity.
Penoplex or expanded polystyrene is suitable for the construction of a hive. The structure of expanded polystyrene resembles a foam sponge. And penoplex consists of small balls.
It is more convenient to assemble a foam structure with your own hands according to the drawings. This will allow you to correctly calculate the amount of material and economically cut all the elements.
Preparation of tools and materials
For foam hives, you need to purchase material. The standard size of the slabs is 1.2m by 0.6m. To fix the cut out parts, you need:
- liquid Nails;
- self-tapping screws 70 cm.
So that the folds from the inside do not break down, they make reinforcement with metal corners. First, the dimensions of the parts are drawn on a Whatman paper. Then they are transferred to slabs. To cut the material you will need:
- meter ruler or tape measure;
- felt-tip pen;
- fine-grained sandpaper.
In addition, the beekeeper will need a fine-mesh metal mesh. It is used to close ventilation openings.
The simplest is the manufacture of 6 frame hives made of polyurethane foam. Experienced beekeepers recommend using the Dadanov scheme for assembly. If you wish, you can make a sunbed. But the most common is the design for 10 frames measuring 375 by 450 mm.
For experienced beekeepers, drawings for 16 frames measuring 300 by 435 mm are suitable. Such a hive provides for:
- socket section 690 by 540 and 320 mm;
- shop on a half frame 690 on 540 and on 165;
- cover and bottom 690 by 540 by 80.
These parameters are considered optimal. Moreover, domestic manufacturers use similar parameters to produce compact modular insect houses.
Drawings of polystyrene beehives
The dimensions of the hive directly depend on its design. You can make a multi-hull lounger according to Dadan. For this, the elements are prepared:
- cover 535 by 610 mm;
- strapping under the cover. The front and back are cut 610 m, the sides are 535 each;
- the floor is cut 600 by 375 mm;
- ventilation holes for the floor are made 200 by 300;
- the rear harness is cut 375 mm in length, 130 mm in height and 50 mm in thickness.
In addition, you will need to make side pieces 650 mm long and 130 mm high.
The manufacture of beehives from expanded polystyrene is carried out as follows:
- drawings are applied to paper, all elements are cut out and transferred to the plate;
- the sheet is cut out according to the markings transferred from the patterns;
- cut parts are ground;
- folds are mounted on the details of the rear and front walls for installing frames;
- the finished structural elements are glued together. Self-tapping screws are cut in to strengthen the joints;
- from the outside of the box, recesses are cut out along the handles.
The finished box is fixed with straps. The belts are not removed until the glue is completely cured. The slots are blown out with polyurethane foam.
Final stage of work
After two days, the glue will completely harden. Then the belts are removed. The ventilation openings are covered with a metal mesh. From the inside, the folds are fixed with steel corners. then the hives are painted with facade paint.
Features of keeping bees in polystyrene foam hives
Wintering in multi-hull hives made of polystyrene does not provide for bringing the houses into a special wintering house. Otherwise, there is a risk that the bees will steam up. When preparing families for the cold weather, it is enough to shift the boxes to each other. This will keep you warm.
If hives made of wood are placed on the apiary, it is recommended to plant strong families in them. And leave the weakened layering in polyurethane foam boxes.
With the approach of spring, the houses are being put into place. It should be noted that the activity of bees in PPU hives occurs earlier than in wooden ones.
Make a beehive out of polyurethane foam (PPU)
Making polyurethane foam beehives at home is becoming more and more popular. But you need to remember that the structures are lightweight. Therefore, they can be carried away by a gust of wind. To prevent this from happening, the houses are weighted from above:
- lay bricks;
- fixed with belts;
- when pouring polyurethane foam, a little gravel is added to the lid.
Polyurethane foam is insect safe, durable and easy to sanitize.
It is easy to care for polyurethane foam hives. To clean the walls, take a chisel. after cleaning, the walls are treated with warm soda solution or steam. After which the house is dried.
Dimensions of the PPU hive
A metal mold is used for the PPU hive. A mold is made from sheet metal. The main advantage of this material is its ability to withstand high loads.
During manufacturing, a lubricant is used to remove adhesion between metal and polyurethane foam. Experienced beekeepers recommend buying ready-made molds. But they will cost more. Such a purchase is justified if you plan to make a lot of hives.
For self-production of bee houses from polyurethane foam you will need:
- welding machine;
- self-tapping screws;
- stationery knife;
In addition, a fine mesh and a felt-tip pen are prepared. First, the forms for the beehives are written on paper. Then transferred to the plates.
Assembling the PPU hive
For the full functioning of the entire structure, you will need to prepare:
- the body;
- protection against ticks. Take a mesh with a fine mesh of no more than 3 mm;
- pallet. Made from plywood. Underwater and mites accumulate in the pallet. When the apiary moves, the pallet is taken out;
- cover to protect the bee colony;
To cut and assemble the shape for the hive, take a sheet of metal and cut it with a grinder. The finished parts are fixed with bolts. They are then carefully cut to avoid excessive heat. Then, the metal edges are cleaned.
Opinion of beekeepers
Beekeepers note the advantages and disadvantages of the PPU hive.
К the benefits concerns:
- the rapid increase in the bee colony. Thanks to the comfortable microclimate, the uterus begins to lay eggs in early spring;
- in extreme heat, the hive does not overheat. This avoids swarming;
- in winter, the houses made of polyurethane foam are warm. Insects do not get into a ball, but will continue to actively move around the hive;
- there are no voids inside;
- the smooth surface of the structure makes it easy to clean and disinfect.
Available for such a design and shortcomings:
- difficulties with collecting propolis with a chisel;
- if the fit of the parts is done carelessly, insects gnaw at the joints of the hive;
- low strength of the material due to which the beehives are often harmed by birds.
As mentioned above, the low weight of the bee house increases the risk of it tipping over.
Beekeepers have no unequivocal opinion regarding the use of PPU for making hives. Someone is an opponent of such constructions. Others, on the other hand, innovate and get good results.