The Apid Research Platform allows for long-term observation of a honey bee colony with minimal disturbance. The design has been described as a "hive in a box" and that statement is largely accurate. The inner portion is similar to that of a traditional top bar hive, but constructed of glass instead of wood. This is entirely enclosed in an outer, insulated wooden shell.
Some other design features included in the Apid Research Platform are: a screened bottom area to allow waste and mites to fall through, rigid foam insulation on all sides to allow better thermal regulation, locking side observation doors, removable roof and floor, and specially designed bar rails and top bars to mitigate bee death from accidental crushing.
Having the upper surfaces of the top bars be both concave and recessed was done to mitigate bee casualties when opening and manipulating the hive. When traditional hives are opened for inspection, honey bees can get smashed on any number of flat surfaces on the top bars or the hive. By having the top bars sit on the corner of a metal rail and by minimizing flat contact surfaces, inadvertant bee deaths should be reduced or elimininated.
On warm days when flowers are in bloom, activity outside the hive can become quite vigorous.
A more typical scene of activity outside the hive.
Q & A
What kind of research is being done with this hive?
Novel top bar designs intended to produce straighter comb and reduce bee casualties when manipulating the hive have already been tested. Studies regarding population variations throughout the year are ongoing.
How do I build one?/How much does it cost to build?
This hive was purpose-built for research and is not intended to be a DIY project. Nevertheless, the available scale diagram and images should be sufficient if one wishes to replicate it.
The original screened bottom had to be replaced with one made of a finer mesh after it was discovered that some bees could fit through the openings.
While the top bar design pictured above showed early promise at producing straight comb, the bars were a few millimeters too wide which led to some "cross-combing" like effects.
The bees were quite content to sit in the concave areas on top of the top bars, so even though they were safe from accidental crushing, they would become separated from the rest of the hive and starve. A redesign was necessary.