Perone hives have three comb grids – one on top of the bees’ part, one between the first and second super, and one between the second and third super. In lieu of the roof, you do not need to place a comb over the uppermost super. (Though if you really want to make an additional comb grid and place it below the roof, you can. In fact some beekeepers here in Chile prefer this because they say its easier to harvest the hive.)
The 3 comb grids’ positions in the hive, marked in purple rectangles
Comb Grid Dimensions
The most important thing about the comb grid is that the distance from the center of one bar to the center of the next bar measures 33 mm. This 33 measurement is key to the temperature control of the hive – helping the bees to form a tighter cluster at night and in the winter. The tighter cluster and lack of wide gaps (from which hot air can easily escape) enable the bees to maintain a temperature that’s too hot for Varroa to handle. The distance between the centers of the comb may also have a major influence on the diameter of the cells that bees build; the closer the combs, the smaller the cells.
In a Perone hive then, the comb grid bars are 24 mm high by 24 mm wide with a distance of 9 mm between each one.
The comb grid that goes over the Bees’ Part will consist of the frame and 17 bars. The remaining two comb grids, the ones that go in between the supers, can be made with just 16 bars, placing a greater distance between the bars, because the bees do not need to worry about heating the upper part of the hive. This design detail is also meant to yield a slightly larger honey harvest (than if the upper comb grids had 17 bars).
Bar lengths (Click on image for closer view)
How to Make the Comb Grids
You will need wood that is 24 mm wide by 24 mm high.
For one hive you will need 49 bars that are 57 cm long. These are the bars that will go in the interior of the comb grid. (17 for the comb
grid that goes over the Bee’s part and 16 and 16 for the two comb grids that go in between the supers.)
For the frames of the comb grid, you will need a total of 12 bars that are around 59.5 cm (the same length as the boards used in the boxes).
Bars cut for the comb grid
To make the frame arrange four 59.5 cm long bars just like you arranged the boards for the boxes, and nail them together.
Next, take the 57 cm bars. Now, this part is very important and probably the trickiest part of making the hive: you need to make sure that each 57 cm bar is spaced 9 mm from its neighbors. We recommend making a very simple mold out of a fine but raw wood like the one shown below.
spacer with dimensions (Click on image for closer view)
Each prong should measure 9 mm. This way you can stick each 57 cm bar between the two prongs of the mold and hold it in position with the proper spacing while you nail one side of the bar to the frame. You can then remove the mold and position the next bar likewise.
We recommend positioning and nailing several bars on one side first, before firmly nailing the bars in place on the other side, so that you can make sure the spacing between them is as accurate as possible.
The “Attaching the top-bars directly to the top box in the Bees’ Part” Option
In this option, you only need to make two comb grids for the Beekeeper’s Part. Instead of making a third comb grid for the Bee’s Part, you can simply nail the top bars inside the uppermost box of the Bees’ Part. If you choose to do this, we recommend that you first place 2 parallel support bars in the bees’ part of the hive 24 mm from the top of the bees’ part, giving you space to place slates. Then leave about 5 of the slates out and place them in a smaller swarm-catcher. (Click here for image.) You can later transfer the bees and comb into the Perone more efficiently.
If you look here closely, you can see the bars have been nailed directly in the top box of the Bees’ Part.
Trying to Make a Perone Hive with Movable Top-Bars
We personally haven’t tried this, because, quite frankly, beekeeping is not as regulated in South America as it is in many English-speaking countries, so there hasn’t been a pressing need for us to explore this area. (“Necessity is the mother of invention” so they say.) However, we do realize that many of you who are reading this right now, may live in places with a law requiring that your bees’ combs be removable. You may also face the possibility of an inspector stopping by and asking you to open up your hive.
There are a few beekeepers in the U.S. who have replaced the comb grids with top bars. Since this is new territory for the Perone hive, we really can’t tell you how well this will or will not work. We can only tell you that this is something that a few people are trying out. We do have some observations though:
1. If you are in a position in which removable combs are an issue for you and you wish to try this method, you should not place any branches or support bars (like the ones shown here) inside the body of the bees’ part. If you do, it will be very difficult to remove the top bars with the comb.
2. Make sure that you give the underside of the top bars a lot of texture so that the bees can attach their comb as firmly as possible. You can do this with a chisel.
3. If an inspector does ask you to see the brood, handle the top bars very gently. These are big combs and they really aren’t meant to be removed from this hive. In some cases (ideally from the bees’ point of view) they may be directly attached to the sides of the hive.
Unfortunately that’s all we can really say about inspections for now. As new developments and ideas come in regarding the “Perone Hive + removable comb regulations” we will post them in this section of the website.