Beekeeping is one of the most rewarding hobbies that one can take on, especially when you consider the significant threat that bees have been facing the past few decades. The over-use of pesticide to kill gnats and other common household pests has led to the demise of bees. Before you build your first bee hive, it's important to educate yourself as much as possible on the many intricacies of beekeeping.
Types of Bee Hives
One of the first aspects of beekeeping you need to learn about is the different types of bee hives at your disposal. There are three general types: Langstroth hives, top bar hives, and Warré hives.
Langstroth Bee Hives
One of the most common types of bee hives used today is the Langstroth hive. Patented by Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth, this type of bee hive is known for having removable frames and stacked boxes. One reason this type of bee hive is so popular is due to the fact that it's highly customizable. It allows beekeepers to stack at various heights. Experienced beekeepers may stack it at large depths, while beginners may start off small.
Top Bar Bee Hives
This is the oldest of the three. The top bar bee hive consists of a horizontal design with wooden planks or bars placed along the top of the long, horizontal box. The top bar bee hive tends to be easier to maintain from a physical perspective because you aren't having to lift heavy hive boxes (something you will need to do for the Langstroth hive). The design and structure of this bee hive, however, does mean that you will need to inspect it more frequently.
Warré Bee Hives
Often referred to as top bar bee hives, the Warré bee hives consist of identically-sized stacked boxes that have no frames or foundation sheets. It's similar to the Langstroth bee hive, except extra hive boxes are added to the bottom when more space is needed in the hive.
Bee Hives Components
Familiarize yourself with the many components that form a bee hive. We also have a list of essential beekeeping supplies if you need a starting point for your research.
The Bottom Board
This component holds the entrance to the bee hive. The surface can be screened or solid. Both types have their pros and cons.
The super is the box where all the good stuff is stored. It holds the frames where the bees store their honey. Supers come in a variety of sizes. Shallow or medium-sized supers are recommended for hobbyists because deep-sized supers can be very hard to lift when it is filled with honey.
The hive frames are where the honeycomb is stored. You may remove it every once in a while to either extract excess honey or to check the health of the bees.
You have the inner covers and the outer covers. Both types play an important role. The inner cover can act as an additional ventilation source, while the outer cover protects the bees from the outside elements.
To better prepare yourself for a journey in beekeeping, we have some additional resources below based on common questions asked by beginner beekeepers.
1. How Many Bee Hives per Acre of Land?