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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 unusual, as the name "Jumbo" only relates to the brood box, not the whole hive. It has mixed Langstroth and Dadant features, both of which have slight dimensional differences in different parts of the world, that aren't always clear.

In the latter half of the 19th century, there was a huge increase in commercial beekeeping in the U.S.A., probably as the result of the introduction of the moveable frame hive. The idea for the Jumbo hive may have been one of them, coming apparently from a commercial beekeeper from Upper Alton, Illinois, named A.N. Draper. In the May 1st 1899 edition (No 9, pg 344) of "Gleanings in Bee Culture" (now "Bee Culture"), a magazine published by equipment manufacturers the A.I. Root Co and edited by E.R. Root, appears a letter under "General Correspondence" from A.N. Draper, suggesting increasing the depth of the Langstroth frame to that of the Dadant, 2⅛ inches deeper. Further, he challenged Root's to make 30-40 hives and if after 3 years they did not prove more satisfactory than other types, Draper would pay the expense of the experiment. The challenge was accepted. They became known as "Draper's Barns", but were later offered for sale 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 accurate, because I have seen the relevant copy of Gleanings.

From looking at old literature, the "Jumbo" has been widely sold by American and Canadian suppliers in the past, although in 2013 this no longer seems to be the case. It seems rather strange that the Langstroth Jumbo is still supplied by the major U.K. suppliers, when none do in the U.S. where it is probably better suited to their more prolific bees.

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 many beekeepers who still use this hive, as I see them when travelling throughout the country. 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 several sources. As with anything 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.

Page created 12/05/2013

Page updated 06/03/2023