Better beehives for bees and beekeepers! No more heavy lifting and no more waiting for the right weather conditions to complete a hive inspection. This is the ergonomic hive of the future. AZ hives should become the standard hive in your apiary.
AZ hives originate from Slovenia. Slovenian hobbyist and commercial beekeepers alike have used them for centuries. They are fast becoming a popular hive for hobby beekeepers across the world. Beekeepers who struggle lifting full supers of honey and were ready to give up their passion have been able to continue beekeeping thanks to the new hybrid hive designs. Small scale commercial beekeepers are also creating mobile apiaries that no longer require forklifts to lift and place hives from the truck into pollination fields – saving them time and money.
We have designed our own version of the traditional AZ hives and adapted them to suit Australia’s environment. We build them ourselves in New South Wales.
Benefits of Slovenian AZ hives over Langstroth hives
- The heaviest thing you need to lift during an inspection is a single frame full of honey (approximately 3kg).
- Inspect the hives regardless of the weather conditions (wind, rain, blistering sun).
- Less stress on the bees during an inspection.
- Have your extraction equipment in the same shed as your beehives. No more carting heavy boxes of frames from the apiary to the honey house. Simply walk the frame a few steps to your extraction area, extract the honey and return the frame to the hive. Simple.
- Hives are positioned side by side and on top of one another allowing you to have a large apiary within a very small space.
- Bees are accustomed to using the front entrance of the hive and are less aware of manipulations occurring from the back of the hive. This means they require less smoke during inspections.
- Feed from the rear of the hive which greatly reduces the instances of robbing.
- Mesh screens on each level ensure minimal numbers of bees escape from the rear of the hive.
- Add a solid board to divide the hive into two colonies, allowing the hive to also act as a nuc.
Disadvantages of Slovenian AZ hives
Until now the biggest disadvantage of Slovenian AZ hives has been their compatibility with Langstroth frames. If you previously wanted to transition your apiary to Slovenian AZ hives you needed all new frames and an extractor designed for Slovenian frames (or you could crush and strain your honey without an extractor). This is no longer the case. Our hives are designed to fit slightly modified Langstroth frames. Now you can transfer your current frames of bees into our AZ hives and experience all the benefits with none of the heavy lifting and no need for specialised equipment!
A minor disadvantage is the hive is designed to be housed inside a “bee house”. Resolve this by painting or staining your hive to protect it from the weather. Alternatively position the hive at an existing window in a shed and modifying the window opening. Or cut a hole the size of the hive into an existing shed or build a new structure specifically for the apiary. Why not build the structure to incorporate your honey house at the same time?
How are Slovenian AZ hives different to Langstroth hives?
Slovenian AZ hives are a single unit. Each compartment within the hive holds ten frames. Hives come with 20 frames (two levels). These are equivalent to a Langstroth hive with either two full sized boxes on them. However a Slovenian AZ hive has a rear opening door. This allows the beekeeper to complete hive inspections from behind the hive instead of from above. The rear door allows access to all the frames within the hive. Each frame is removed one at a time, in the same way you remove a book from a bookshelf. After you have inspected/harvested the frame, return it to the hive and move onto the next frame. No more lifting multiple 30+kg supers to inspect your bottom brood box!
Bees also benefit from Slovenian AZ hives. The bees are disturbed far less during an inspection compared to a Langstroth hive. This is because in a Langstroth hive you effectively pull apart their entire house to complete an inspection. I liken the method of inspecting an AZ hive to subtly opening a single window at a time inside your house to inspect it – opposed to lifting the entire roof off of your house and exposing everything all at once.
Within the hive, frames rest on metal bars to reduce the amount of burr comb bees build on the frames. There is also a queen excluder to seperate brood from the honey frames.
AZ hives need to be weather treated (painted or stained on the exterior) or be built into a “bee house” or “bee shed”. Traditionally when built into the side of a structure only the front of the hive is exposed to the elements. This means only the front of the hive needs painting. Some beekeepers build their hives into a shed, others choose to build their bee house on a truck or trailer to create a portable apiary and extraction room all in one. Having the hives within a shed helps keep the temperature around the hive more consistent. This aids the bees in overwintering more effectively. Bees consume less honey during the winter because they receive greater protection from the wind and cooler outside temperatures. For maximum efficiency beekeepers tend to build structures that incorporate both the apiary and honey house/extraction room in the same place.
Slovenian AZ hives are better for bees and beekeepers than Langstroth hives. The additional money you outlay upfront to purchase the hive is quickly recovered in time saved conducting inspections, reduced wear and tear on your back due to no heavy lifting and less resources required by the bees to successfully overwinter (more honey for you to enjoy).
Where to buy a Slovenian AZ hive
From us, Australia’s first producer of AZ hives! View our Australian designed and made AZ hives in our online shop here.