Synthetic hives have been used in Europe for at least 30 years, since they have proven to be so durable and effective, today in Denmark almost 99% of all new hives sold are made of synthetic materials, expanded polystyrene or polyurethane.
The situation is similar in many other countries in northern Europe, particularly in Germany, where one of the largest suppliers of equipment is now counted for the wooden hives.
A beekeeper who has about 3,000 colonies claims that he does not even know a beekeeper in Finland who still uses wooden hives. In total, there are over half a million synthetic cells used in Europe today, which is evidence of their effectiveness and endurance. EPS HD plastic synthetics that are sold, are made of high density expanded polystyrene.
Although this is chemically identical to the foamed polystyrene used in the packaging, it has a much harder surface and is substantially stronger. High-density expanded polystyrene is an ideal material for making hives. If you are considering buying a polystyrene cell, always make sure it is high density. There are some in the European market that are made of low density polystyrene. In case of doubt, ask your supplier to stand or sit in the hive – there should be no hesitation in doing so in any of our hives.
WHY Extruded polystyrene is so good for hives?
The use of wood for blanks is so well established that sometimes it is difficult to form a balanced view of polystyrene blisters. Polystyrene blisters work on two levels.
The first is the overall price. The price is not everything, although it determines the decision to choose the hiver at the highest rate. Of course, plywood or wood blanks are very competitive, but plywood and wood are heavy and, above all, do not provide the quality insulation of polystyrene.
This is where polystyrene beans really have the advantage because the majority of the nectar accumulated by the bees during the season is not stored for winter but consumed by the bees to keep the kneecap warm. A hollow tree is fine for bees because the brood nest is not at risk from the sudden temperature changes that occur in a conventional wooden hive. This is why many European beekeepers have changed the wood – they just found their bees were performing better in thick walls in polystyrene cells.
In winter the importance of the insulation of our cells is of course important. After the severe winter of 2009/2010, most of the beekeepers using wooden hives tried all sorts of solutions to give their hives more insulation. Such methods work, but there is nothing to compare with a hive that is well insulated from the beginning by its design.
In the Finnish countryside, where they use similar hives, temperatures in winter at -35 o C sometimes several months under the snow. Bees survive in these conditions and in polystyrene cells because the high level of insulation protects them. This does not mean that these cells are only suitable for extreme temperatures. Polystyrene blisters keep not only the bees hot, but above all keep them dry and it is often said that it is not the cold that kills the bees but the humidity.
Slowly, the reputation of polystyrene cells in Europe and Australia is established in modern beekeeping and is now the most widespread in the field of synthetics due to the high density of polystyrene cells.