Frequently Asked Questions for Paradise Honey Beehives

1. Are Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) beehives harmfull to the environment, the honeybees or to humans?

A. The EPS100 beehives by Paradise Honey come with excellent environmental credentials.  The benefits to the honeybees wellbeing is indisputable in that they provide the colony with an environment that is more akin to living in a large hollow tree which offers a large thermal mass to protect them against the outside elements and the damp.  A wooden beebox with its thin walls offers the honeybees very little thermal protection and as a result, the colony will have to work hard to maintain a stable environment.

In addition to being a much healthier environment for your honeybees to live in, during the production of expanded polystyrene, neither chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) nor hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are used. Therefore, the they do not experience off-gassing that may effect air quality in the beehive. EPS is also the lightest of all construction materials in common use – thus helping minimising the environmental impacts and costs associated with the movement of heavier wooden and plastic beehives particularly commercial beekeepers who shift their bees several time per year. EPS beehives will have a considerably longer life than traditional wooden hives, which suffer from dry rot and white ant infestation.  EPS is recyclable at many stages of its life cycle including during production, all manufacturing waste can be fully reprocessed by milling or granulating into pellets and adding to the production mix without any detriment to the quality of the finished EPS product.

For more information, we recommend the following documents:  “Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and the Environment” and “EPS Technical Briefing”.

2. Does Polystyrene off-gas toxic chemicals?

A. No. EPS is safe, non-toxic and totally inert. At no time in its life cycle does it contain any Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). It is also absent of any nutritional value, so no fungi or micro-organisms, such as mould, can grow with EPS.

3. Can they be recycled?

A: Yes! normally recycling depots don’t accept polystyrene products due to their low density – however as these hives have a high density they have a high recycling commodity value. EPS is 100% recycable.

4. What is the R-Value (insulation value) of the hives compared to timber hives?

A. Timber (softwood) = R1.4 per inch vs Polystyrene = R5.0 per inch.
A Typical timber hive wall thickness is 22mm therefore would have an R-Value of R1.21 when dry (decreases if becomes waterlogged).

The Paradise Honey High Density EPS hives have a wall thickness of 40mm for the full hive and 33mm for the nucleus hive, Therefore the full hive has an R-Value of R7.9 and the Nucleus is R6.5 and is not affected by moisture.

5. Why does the hive need to be painted?

A. To protect the hive and the bees from UV radiation.

6. What do I do if my colony is tested and has American Foul Brood, do I have to burn my hive?

A. Firstly you should contact your local Department of Primary Industries to report the issue. We do not recommend burning polystyrene hives – you can however have your hive equipment sterilized by Gamma Irradiation.

7. How strong are these hives, what do I do if I break a box?

A. We had some hives fall off our ute going down the highway – suffice to say they didn’t survive intact – however we were able to easily repair them whereas if they were timber hives they would be a complete write off. Check our our video showing how to repair one of the supers: https://youtu.be/UFxDqv1d7W4

8. Can you supply the hives in a 8 frame size?

A. We can do even better.  The 8/9 frame Paradise Honey beehive is built to Australian Honeybee’s specification.  You can run 9 frame in te brood box and either 8 or 9 in the honey supers.

9. With the difference of wall thickness, can I use conventional timber boxes with these hives?

A; Yes, whilst to take full advantage of the thermal properties of the hive, we recommend all of your boxes are the EPS100 product. However if you wish to use conventional honey supers on top of the brood chamber, the EPS boxes are interlocking but the interlocking lip allows for conventional timber supers to sit right on top without water gaining access to the hive.  This only applies to 10 frame hives.

10. I’ve used a polystyrene box to collect a swarm before and the bees chewed through it – do they cause damage to these hives?

A: No – the EPS100 hives are a high density food grade hardened expanded polystyrene, and are twice the density to the polystyrene used in motorcycle helmets and are incredibly tough. These hives have been used for the last 35 years in Europe without bees causing damage to the hive itself.

11. Do the hives become brittle over time?

A: This is one of the reasons to paint the hives with a high quality exterior paint to protect both bees and the hive itself from prolonged UV exposure. As EPS is inert and as long as they’re painted, they will not become brittle over time.

12. I’ve had plastic hives before and have had issues with mould growing on the walls and underside of the lid – do you get issues with mould with these hives?

A: Mould growth is a symptom of warm moist air and poor ventilation. Due to the insulative properties of the EPS hive, you don’t get excessive condensation forming on the underside of the lid and walls of the hive where bacteria and mould would normally be found. In addition the EPS is not affected by water and is completely inert and holds no nutritional value for mould. Our hives has a large ventilated bottom board which allows the bees to maintain air flow throughout the hive. As the inside of our hives remain warm and dry, another benefit is the increased lifespan of your timber frames as they’re not exposed to moisture or mould which further cuts down your ongoing maintenance costs!

13. Can you use a branding iron on these hives?

A: Yes you can, you will need to have the temperature on low, if you’re using a propane based branding iron, we recommend modifying the branding head with two pieces of 90 degree steel sections to create a shield to protect the foam being directly exposed to the branding flame: See our video branding the hives in action at https://youtu.be/5nB7sDHzE8s

13. Why do the Paradise Honey beehives blow the door handles off timber and plastic hives for honey production?

A. Because the high grade of insulation frees up colony resources that would normally be consumed maintaining the thermal conditions in the hive.  Honeybees that are not required to cool or warm the hive are utilised for more productive activities such as foraging and hive hygiene.

14. Why are some beekeepers anti EPS hives, especially on Facebook?

A. Because – 1. It wasn’t their idea to import the Paradise Honey hives into Australia; 2. They cannot admit someone else is right; 3. They don’t have the ability to create a busines case – e.g. if you invest an extra 20% on better performing hives that produce 30%+ more honey, they would pay for themselves in about three months – They just don’t get it.