Introduction to the Perone Beehive

Image credit: solarbeez.com

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The Perone Beehive is an ingeniously designed beehive that aims to better the way honeybees are raised. It derives its name from its inventor Oscar Perone. Its current design has been arrived at after innumerable trial and error, carried out for more than 40 years by the inventor. The design is inspired by the honeybee’s natural environment, trying as much as possible to imitate wild bees.

Join us as we find out more about this unique design of hive that has won the hearts of many.

About the Perone Beehive

The Perone beehive is based on the concept referred to as PermApiculture, which is a practice based around ‘sustainable beekeeping in an unsustainable era’. The system basically tries to copy honeybees in the wild. The hive itself is a vertical structure that capitalizes on three things: plenty of space, plenty of honey, and a lot of peace. The hive design is ideal for raising strong colonies that can manage varroa mites, pests, diseases, and many other factors that cripple beekeeping.

Key Features

  1. Honeybee’s Section – where the honey bees raise their brood and store honey. This section is situated on the lower section of the beehive.
  2. Beekeeper’s Section – this is where the honey is harvested from, ideally once a year. The hive is not opened once honeybees occupy the hive. There is no intervention required from the beekeeper, except during honey harvesting. The section for the bees is not touched by the beekeeper. The beekeeper’s section lays on the upper part of the vertical beehive.

Components and Dimensions

The Perone beehive is made up of the following components:

  • The beekeeper’s section at the top of the beehive with 3 honey supers that have comb grids. The interior dimension of each of the supers is 57 x 57 x 10 cm and capacity of 32.5 L for each super. There are a total of 3 comb grids in a Perone beehive. The first one is placed on top of the bees’ section, a second between the first and second super. Finally, a third placed between second and third super. Usually, there is no need to place a comb on the super that is on the uppermost part of the hive.
  • The comb grid dimension is 33 mm, that is, the distance from center of one of the bars to the center of the preceding bar. The precise measurement is essential since honeybees are highly sensitive to temperature changes within the beehive. This helps the honeybees form a tighter cluster during winter and cold nights, making it impossible for varroa mites to survive within the high temperatures. The comb grid bars are 24 mm and 24 mm high and wide respectively. These bars are also 9 mm away from each other. This affects the size of the honeycomb cells that the bees build.
  • The honeybee’s section has a capacity of 184.5 L with an interior dimension of 57 x 57 x 57 cm. This area hosts the brood and honey reserves for the honey bee colony.
  • The floor – this comprises a total of 6 boards, with five boards that measure 1 x 4 inches and one that measures 1 x 6 inches. A landing pad should be provided for the bees at the entrance.
  • The total hive capacity is 282 L, this being the optimum space requirement for the honey bees to produce at their peak.
  • Golden ratio – overall dimension of the beehive follows the concept of the Golden rectangle that has been in use for centuries among artists, mathematicians, and architects. This concept exists in nature and is believed to be ascetically pleasing, unlike rectangles that lack the golden ratio. The Golden ratio is common in nature and can be seen in base of pine cones, the spiral nature of nautilus cells, human body parts, and many more.
  • The hive entrance measures about 9 mm x 5 cm wide, perfectly fitting for the worker bees to move in and out of the beehive. An optional entrance can be situated in the lowest super. This second hole will serve an important purpose, since the bees tend to be quite far from the floor when coming into the hive the first time. The second hole provides the needed convenience for the young colonies as they grow. By the end of the first year and beginning of the second year, the combs will have reached the vicinity of the hive floor. They can then begin to utilize the lower entrance at this point. It is important to note that the entrances can be closed off when not required.
  • The flat roof – can be designed using 6 boards that measure 1 x 4 inches each. However, it is important to consider your local climate if you decide to make your own Perone beehive. The flat roof is the most ideal in areas that experience warm to temperate weather and with little rain. Conversely, a gabled roof will surface for areas that experience heavy rainfall. The gabled roof will also work well in extremely cold areas.

Benefits of the Perone Beehive

Perone Beehive
Image credit: solarbeez.com

The Perone beehive has become popular in South America, Mexico, and Central America. The inventor Oscar Perone comes from Argentina, and has been in the business of keeping bees for more than 40 years. The practice of PermApiculture with the Perone beehive makes it possible to combat the common Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and other challenges pose a serious risk to the dwindling honeybee population globally. In fact, most beekeepers within Latin America lose most of the stock annually due to CCD.

The Perone beehive offers many benefits to honeybee colonies and beekeepers. These include:

1. Raise Stronger Honeybee Colonies

Unlike other beehive designs where the needs of the beekeeper come up-front, this hive design strikes a balance between satisfying the beekeeper as well as the honeybee colony. The vertically designed hive ensures there is plenty of space, plenty of honey, and peace for both the bees and the beekeeper. Consequently, honeybees raised through this concept tend to be stronger and more powerful. The strain of bees can thus overcome diseases, pests, and harsh environmental conditions. All this can be achieved without using harmful chemicals or investing in expensive equipment.

2. No intervention Required

As mentioned earlier, the Perone beehive comprises two sections, the part that is strictly set aside for the bees, and another for the beekeeper. The honeybees focus 100 percent on making honey and raising their brood, without any disturbance. And the beekeeper will only access the designated part once in a year. He or she will never touch the honeybee’s section and there is no intervention required from the beekeeper. This makes this hive design one of the easiest to manage when compared to others. It is also more convenient for the honeybees, since they dislike any form of intrusion, which in some cases is met with aggression.

3. Golden Ratio

The fact that this hive design follows the golden ratio concept, makes it pleasing to honey bees. The Golden ratio is a concept that is common in nature and has fascinated experts such as architects, mathematicians, and artists for centuries. It appears to have a way of attracting most living organisms.

4. Easy to Build

This beehive is perhaps one of the simplest and easiest to build. You can use a wide variety of wood to build it depending on your locality. However, native tree species are highly recommended to make the home as natural as possible. Wild bees have been proven to have no particular preference when it comes to wood, so are domesticated bees.

The most commonly used materials for making hives within and beyond the US include: walnuts, pines, oaks, red cedar, maples, and many others. The Perone beehive can be constructed using locally available materials and you need not invest in expensive hive equipment.

5. Design Gaining Popularity

This hive design may not be one of the oldest around, but it has recently but has gained massive acceptance across Central and South America, and Mexico. It is accepted as one of the ideal concepts for reversing Colony Collapse Disorder. Indeed, CCD is common in Langstroth hives across the USA, and has proven to be impossible to eliminate.

Those who have experimented with the Perone beehive concept, have reported excellent results for a span of 3 years, with none of them experiencing CCD. The hive is particularly best suited for honeybees when it comes to combating varroa mites, the transmission agents of most beekeeping diseases. Its design allows the honeybees to form a cluster that generate heat exceeding the level varroa mites can withstand. This way, all mites are naturally eliminated, without using expensive and harmful chemicals.

6. No need for Supplement Feed

Any expert beekeeper will emphasize the importance of providing supplement feed to your bees in the form of sugar syrup or any other form. However, with the Perone beehive, you will have to resist the temptation to do that all year round. With this design you have to follow the concept of PermApiculture. This means no supplement feed required for the honeybees, since all aspects of the hive ensure the colony is self-sustaining.

7. Goodbye to Monthly Inspections

It is common for beekeepers to inspect their hives at least monthly. During this time, they will be checking out various aspects of the beehive that include diseases, brood development, normal hive activity, or even discourage swarming. Contrastingly, with the Perone beehive, inspections are strongly discouraged. The beekeeper will only access their section without touching the honeybee’s designated area. This gives both the beekeeper and the honeybees at peace.

Comparing Perone Beehive with other Hives

The Perone Hive is closely compared to a Warre beehive. They share a number of features and differences with other hives that include the following:

  • Both of these hives are vertical top bar hives and neither of them uses wire or frames. This therefore means the honeybees build their own comb. The brood is mainly raised in the bottom section of the beehive and the honey is accumulated above the nest.
  • The Perone beehive is larger than the Warre and other beehives. This means the honeybee population can grow much higher.
  • For Warre beehives, boxes are continually added underneath the hive as the colony grows. However for the Perone beehive, the main intention is to maintain it at its full size without any alteration throughout the year.
  • Unlike other hive designs such as the Top bar, Langstroth, and Warre, which are designed to be smaller for easy handling, the Perone beehive is so much larger. The former were made smaller to help the beekeeper to access every part of the beehive, including the brood. Smaller colonies raised on such hives have more work when it comes to tasks such as defense, cleaning, foraging, and many others. However, for Perone beehives, the honeybees begin by building their combs from the bars downwards. Once all bars are utilized for the brood, they begin to focus on the spaces in the beekeeper’s section.
  • The bees will take a bit longer to fill up the Perone hive if they originated from standard hive designs. Domesticated bees have become accustomed to modern hives, thus abandoning their traditional ways. Generally, it will take between 2 to 3 years for the beekeeper to get their first harvest. Thereafter it will be much faster for the honeybees to fill up combs.
  • In terms of construction, you need not invest in expensive equipment if you want to build a Perone beehive; wood, boards, nails, and a hammer is all that is required. This makes it easy and economical to build than other hive designs.
  • Honey harvesting is carried out differently with Perone beehives. You will harvest the honey in the second or third year and this is carried out in the Beekeeper’s section. It is recommended that the harvesting is done at night so as to avoid disturbing the honeybees. You should also use a red light since this is not visible to the bees.

How to get Bees into a Perone Beehive

Just like any other beehive, you can employ various techniques to get the bees into your Perone beehive. These include the following:

  • Take an entire Langstroth beehive and place it inside the Perone hive. This is not encouraged but it works especially for those with existing Langstroth beehives.
  • Place the Perone beehive in a strategic location to attract a swarm of honey bees. You might need to put in bait if necessary, which could be sugar syrup, some honey, black brood combs or used wax.
  • Catch a swarm and place it inside the Perone beehive.
  • Procure live bees from beekeepers from your locality then bring them into the Perone beehive.

Pros and Cons of the Perone Beehive

Pros

  • Great hive design for raising stronger and more powerful colonies.
  • More productivity. Stronger colonies are more productive and not prone to being robbed by other colonies.
  • Easier to manage. You open the beekeeper’s section once in a year, with no need to touch the bee section all year round.
  • Easy to handle the honeybees. No interruption or intrusion on colonies therefore the least aggressive bees is raised.
  • One of the easiest hives to build unlike other hive types.
  • It is economical. No need to invest in expensive hive equipment. You can make your own hive using locally available materials.
  • Ideal for most climate zones.
  • One of the best designs in combating bee diseases and CCD.
  • Mimics the desired natural wild bee habitat and thus provides a great home for the honeybees.
  • Supplement feed is not required.

Cons

  • None has been reported so far.

A Final Word

The Perone Beehive is certainly a hive that will double, if not triple the productivity of your honeybees. The inventor experimented with various hive sizes for a period spanning 40 years before arriving at this ideal hive size and design. The hive imitates the natural environment of wild bees, making it possible for honeybees to live and produce as they would if on their natural habitat.

If you have been considering trying something new this year, then perhaps it is time to go the Perone way with your apiculture. This practical hive design is easy to work on and your honeybees will instantly feel at home.

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