It is unfortunate that when you buy your first hive typically you don’t have the experience of the range of suppliers or practical hands on knowledge of the various types – you learn by your mistakes.
My first hive was cedar and from ebay. The supplier was helpful – I had phoned him because my mentor was recommending I consider 14 by 12 brood body and that was yet another issue on which I could not decide. Following that I’d bought various bits and pieces. I can never ignore price (I’m a pensioner) but getting quality is important. It seems to me that a disadvantage of the growing interest in bees is the fact that many will charge what the market will bear and prices have crept upwards. The hive I purchased for £80 on ebay quickly rose to £120 over the few months after my purchase. And I quickly spent on all the extras more than I thought I’d need to.
Getting an assembled hive certainly has some advantages for those of us for whom making up a hive is not the most straightforward task – either because of physical limitations or no suitable place to make it comfortable to do so.
Recently I was privy to delivery of a hive from Caddon hives and my impression was very favourable. I had heard others commend them. The package was impressive because they include a deeper (6 inch) roof and then pack the bits inside it in a compact way. The quality seemed good and the price very fair. The entrance block was a design that I’d seen but haven’t owned and I like the simple effectiveness of it in one position the entrance is closed down to a narrow section about 4 inches long and then turning it through 90 degrees there is an alternative giving a a reduced entrance closer to 2 cm. The instructions are particularly clear especially as each piece is clearly numbered and even the nails etc are well packaged. I had looked at Celtic Woodsmith at the Convention this year. Yes, I like the small family businesses that over time can become almost friends – and I had entered the competition to win one of their hives. At the moment their website suggests they don’t have full hives and I couldn’t see teh price for a roof or floor. Of course this is for a British National hive so I realise this is of little interest to those elsewhere. Caddon is definitely a supplier to consider if you are in the UK.
I have also been pleased when I have purchased ready made whole or part hives. many suppliers argue this is the best way a customer gets the quality they intended. There have been some wise recommendations on the Beekeepers forum.
If you are just about to take up beekeeping, I really ought to paraphrase a saying I have seen from others about their purchases and the price they pay. It is usually at least twice what they tell their other half they have paid and they can’t help worrying that if they pass on, the OH will sell items for the price they claim they paid.
PS the smell of cedar is just lovely