In Germany the so-called “Bienenkiste” hive is rather popular among beginners. It is a supersized version of the classic “Krainer Bauernstock”, and used to be rather popular in the region of the Slowenian alps and parts of Austria.
There are also two German books about the Bienenkiste available:
- “Die Bienenkiste - Selbst Honigbienen halten - einfach und natuerlich” by Erhard Maria Klein
- “Wesensgemaesse Bienenhaltung in der Bienenkiste: Lernen von der Natur - Imkern mit Respekt!” by Erhard Maria Klein
I did run two of them back in Germany in 2015⁄16, but converted them into TTBHs.
The Bienenkiste is a very shallow (20cm), but horizontal TBH that uses top bars in two different lengths, which are barely moved (similar to Warré supers). It uses a cold way top bar arrangement all year round, but consist of few but very long top bars.
The long top bars hold the brood area (the hive volume for this is approx. 60 liters) and the 30cm long top bars behind are to be used for honey harvest.
My main concern with the Bienenkiste is its unusual inspection approach. For inspections it has to be turned upside down, the solid bottom board is removed and all combs exposed to daylight. This leads to a total loss of the hive’s air (Stockduft) and doesn’t appear as nice to the bees. Returning foragers become heavily irritated while the hive is turned upside down, as the entrance location becomes temporarily unavailable.
I’m actually not so sure, why the Bienenkiste became so popular in Germany, but I suspect it boils down to the fact that it offers a well maintained website and features an active internet community.
However in my impression there are barely Bienekiste beekeepers that run this system for longer than a few seasons, before they migrate to something else.
My advise for beginners is to avoid the Bienenkiste altogether and to rather look into KTBHs or Warré hives to start with