About a dozen of us from the Dorchester & Weymouth BKA met this windy cool afternoon on Portland where our host has an apiary of Smith hives on his smallholding. Luckily the weather was kind to us and the rain held off until we were about to depart.
I was unfamiliar with the Smith hive and it was good to be able to contrast and compare with the usual National. The first advantage is that they are simpler and therefore cheaper to construct, consisting of just 4 planks with a rebate to take the short lugs of frames that are otherwise of National type. The second is that they have top bee-way, which results in fewer squashed bees. I have never understood why the National has bottom bee-way; perhaps because it was designed by a committee.
The disadvantage of Smith boxes is that they are rectangular rather than square, so you can’t place supers cross-wise, which is often useful to do.
The bees were doing well and in good temper. It was amusing to look around and observe that the more experienced the beekeepers, the less they wore. Our host with 3 years experience wore hedger’s gloves and smart white wellies whereas I had bare hands and feet. Nobody got stung.
Afterwards there was tea and cake and we were introduced to the rest of the menagerie: pigs, sheep, polecats, geese, turkeys, chickens, owls and a parrot. Over tea somebody mentioned that a person on Portland had re-stocked an apiary with swarms that had hived themselves in 3 bait hives. I admitted that it was me! I truthfully denied, however, that any of the queens was marked as all his were. I’ve just looked on Google maps and calculate that my bees are about 500 yards from his.