The Sun Hive

The ideal housing – made for the benefit of bees

Gunther Mancke, the creator of the Weissenseifen hanging basket explains the ideal concept of his bee basket . Photographed by Jan Michael at the Rudolf Steiner Jubilee Conference 2014 at the Goetheanum in Dornach/Switzerland

Gunther Mancke

This ideal habitat for bees was designed in its original version by the German sculptor Günther Mancke. Woven in the shape of an egg from rye straw, the honeycomb structure of such a space allows the cluster of bees to adapt harmoniously to the interior walls of the nest, saving a great deal of energy and heating.
In such a nest, the bees consume considerably less of their honey reserves, which helps them to overcome unexpected climatic changes.

Video of our first Sunhive – 2014 installed for the first time in France

The Weissenseifen hanging basket – A cocoon for our bees!

The original version of the WEISSENSEIFENER HÂNGEKORB internationally called SUNHIVE consists of two baskets, one above the other, held together in the middle by an intermediate board from which they are suspended. The sunhive contains 9 specially shaped top bars (open frames) to which the bees attach their combs, as well as a cover cloth and a specially woven entrance funnel. The baskets are woven from rye straw (which is easy to learn in special courses) but the other parts have to be made by precise handwork (which is very difficult for laymen to learn and requires special tools).

The Sunhive is very popular with alternative beekeepers in many countries and has many fans in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and the USA as well as a little in France and it is our endeavour to promote that a little with our new royal hive as we call it now.
The interior and exterior of this hive is reminiscent of an upside down egg and is therefore ideally suited to a cluster of bees, where the NEST SENSITIVE HEAT BINDING (binding of heat and odours in the nest) can develop and be maintained optimally in such a form.


A Sun hive becomes a Sun Hive-plus  , Warré & Dadant compatible

 With the sun hive-plus there are no more top beam frames.The bees can now build their combs the way they want, without any restrictions. There may be some cross braces to prevent the heaviest combs from breaking.

View of the honey basket, which was fixed in a large dadant box with 12 mm thick wooden dowels to prevent the basket and clay from slipping. The brood basket ( pictured right) was also attached in this way.

The ideal egg-shaped form of the basket remained unchanged and was woven from rye straw according to the design of the sculptor and bee conservationist Günther Mancke. Known in Germany as the « Weissenseifener Hanging Basket », over the years the Sunhive found many enthusiasts around the world and is still hung from trees or in shelters.
Our Sunhive was now mounted in large square dadant boxes, which were filled with a thick mixture of clay and wood chips…. Clay has a very high insulating value and protects the wood and the environment from excessive moisture…. This is how you build or insulate eco-houses again and it is also much more environmentally friendly than the plastic materials you now find in many apiaries.

Upper honey basket box ( Dadant XL)..View of the honey basket, which can also be filled with chopped reed instead of clay as insulation and is then much lighter.

For a lighter version of the sun hive plus it would also be possible to use only wood shavings or other materials such as sheep’s wool or straw shavings for insulation.
The sun hive-plus no longer needs a shelter or suspension as it now stands on high and stable feet.

This hive can be self-built from four large dadant boxes or pallet wood and a few other materials.

The flight hole has been slightly altered but has remained in the same place under the floor where the bees can fly in very quickly from all sides, making it even easier for them to escape the attacks of the Asian hornet.

Honey harvesting is also possible in the Sun Hive-plus with a small honey basket attachment or even with a Warré box, but this is now inside the protective cover of the Dadant box and is no longer exposed to the strong winds. It is also possible to use a Dadant honey magazine with or without a frame for honey harvesting or for logging a swarm of bees in this way.

But care should be taken not to take too much honey, as honey harvesting is not the main purpose of the Sunhive hive and should primarily be for the protection of the bees.

With the massive clay insulation and protective boxes all around, everything will be much heavier than the ORIGINAL Sunhive , but a littlemore resistant to the severe storms we will have more and more often here in Normandy and probably elsewhere in the age of climate change.

If aWarré super or honey basket is to be placed on top for personal honey harvesting  a wooden board must be placed on top of the filler material as a finish to make the top bee-proof and prevent the bees from entering the empty space of the box

More photos and information from the construction phase will follow as time goes on.

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