Types of Beehives

| 10/28/2015 12:04:00 PM

Tags: beekeeping, honeybees, to bar hives, Warre hives, Langstroth hives, Kirsten Lie-Nielsen, Maine,

If you're thinking about getting bees, you'll find there are a lot of choices for hive designs. It's important to choose what will work best for you, and to be familiar with how each style of hive effects the colony within.  For a long time, the only beehive you tended to see would be the traditional Langstroth hive. In recent years, new styles have become popular including the Warre hive, and the top bar hive design.

Langstroth hives were first patented in 1852. The design is a series of simple boxes that can be stacked on top of each other to expand the hive as the colony grows. Within the boxes are pre-made frames with wax foundation off of which the bees will build their comb. The frames can be removed, and the honey extracted in a special centrifuge.

Because Langstroth hives have been the most common method of beekeeping, it is very easy to find parts and designs for this system. The hives are said to produce more honey than other styles, and some beekeepers find them easier to manage bees with. However, Langstroth hive frames dictate the cell size for the bee's comb, which is said to contribute to many health issues effecting bee colonies today. The box design, which is easier for the beekeeper to access, is much more disruptive to the colony when you are working with them. In principle, the Langstroth hive was designed with the beekeeper in mind, and not the natural ways of the bees.

Freshly harvested honey

Warre hives were developed in the early 1900s by French beekeeper Abbe Emile Warre. This style looks somewhat similar to the Langstroth design in that it is an upright and boxy shape. It has a slanted roof, however, and the interior of the hive is much different.

This style of hive was created with the natural habits of a bee colony in mind. The boxes, which can be built up from the bottom as the hive grows, contain bars across the top from which bees can build down their comb. A quilt under the roof provides insulation for the hive, and a window can be included in the lower boxes for the beekeeper to keep tabs on his bees. In addition to being more bee-friendly, the Warre hive was created with the idea of being a hive that does not need a lot of monitoring, which can be harvested from occasionally and otherwise left to its own devices. The downside of the Warre hive is that it is harder to access the interior bars for a close inspection of the hive, a point which is alleviated by the fact that the hives should be self sufficient.

10/31/2015 2:43:07 PM

HI! I have to add something to your article. There's a type of beehive still used in Europe you haven't mentioned, Alberti-Žnidaršič (Alberti-Znidarsic, AZ). Some people still use them in Slovenia and Croatia. They have some advantages (and, of course, some disadvantages) over other types. They look like a cabinet and beekepers open them from behind. When you open the door you can see two sections, upper - the honey super, and lower - brood chamber, separated by queen excluder. Each section is closed by smaller "doors"/"windows", the honey super has only a wire mesh on its "doors" and the brood chamber has a wire mesh and so called Vukelić's feeder on it. you can open any of the compartments and check the situation in the beehive without lifting heavy weights in two ways: one is by moving frames like turning the pages of a book, and another is pulling frames out from behind one by one. There are two dimensions of those frames, standard, smaller, and "grom" bigger (better and more practical). They can have 10-14 frames, and now they build also three, and even four story AŽ beehives... Greetings, Darko Babić Zagreb, Croatia,

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