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"Jumbo" Hives

Also known as "Langstroth Jumbo"

There have been several large hives that have been termed "Jumbo", but this is the real one. It is a bit of an oddball but "Jumbo" only relates to the brood box. It has mixed Langstroth and Dadant dimensions. You need to understand that both these hives have slight dimensional differences in different parts of the world that aren't always clear.

The idea for the Jumbo hive apparently came from a beekeeper from Upper Alton, Illinois, named A.N. Draper. In the May 1st edition (N09) 1899 of "Gleanings in Bee Culture", a magazine published by equipment manufacturers the A.I. Root Co, appears a letter from A.N. Draper suggesting increasing the depth of the Langstroth frame to that of the Dadant 2⅛ inches deeper. Further, if 30-40 hives were made and after 3 years they did not prove more satisfactory, Draper would pay the expense of the experiment. They were known as "Draper's Barns", but were later offered by Root's as "Jumbo". Presumably the hives were trialled in the Root apiaries and as they were sold, I guess that Draper didn't pay for the modification.

The above conflicts with several other accounts that state that Draper introduced the Langstroth Jumbo in 1905, but in some there is evidence of "cut and paste". I am satisfied the 1899 date is more accurate because I have consulted the relevant copy of Gleanings.

From looking at old literature a "Jumbo" has been sold by American and Canadian suppliers, which I assume is the same one, although in 2013 this no longer seems to be the case, as most suppliers only usually deal with Langstroth or Dadant. It seems rather strange that Langstroth Jumbo is still supplied by the major U.K. suppliers, when none do in the U.S. where it is probably better suited.

In the 1920 edition (probably others too) of the "Dadant System of Beekeeping" by C.P.Dadant the Langstroth Jumbo is mentioned several times, mainly for comparison purposes, so perhaps it was common enough to be a threat to the Dadant hive.

In England the Jumbo hive was popularised by Captain E.J. Tredwell, who was (CBI) for Hampshire, advising beginners to use it in the late 1960's. There are a number of beekeepers who still use this hive and as auctioneer of the West Sussex BKA auction I occasionally come across one.

Some information:-

To put it in simple terms a Jumbo is a Dadant depth box with Langstroth overall sizes, taking 10 frames at 35mm spacing, or in slightly more difficult terms a Langstroth box that is Dadant depth, taking 10 Dadant frames on Langstroth spacing!

So.......Depth of box 295mm. 10 frames at 35mm spacing.

Any other hive that is called a "Jumbo" is not a Jumbo, but probably a term used for marketing purposes. For some reason the B.S. 14 x 12 B.S. Deep is often referred to as "Jumbo", but it isn't. You must be aware they are incompatible.

Information for this page has been gleaned from a number of sources. As with anything historical of this nature, where little or no original material exists, I have had to piece it together as best as I can. I have taken care to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

Roger Patterson.