What Hive Is Right For You?

December 02, 2019

What Hive Is Right For You?

Are you just starting out in beekeeping or are you thinking of trying something new? There are many hives to choose from with different management styles.

Some things you need to consider: How much time do you have? How many bees do you want? Can you lift boxes over 40 lbs? What location will your hive be placed in? Every location is a bit different based on weather, nectar flow and bees. 

 Every year, new beekeepers come to the realization in June that they are going to have lots of bees in the summer months. Yep, you can end up with up to 80,000 bees in one hive. It’s a lot of bees, and you need to be able to manage your hive in order to keep your bees healthy, prevent swarming and produce a honey crop. 

HERE IS OUR OVERVIEW OF THREE POPULAR HIVES:

LANGSTROTH HIVE

Lorenzo Langstroth invented this hive in the   1800s. His design introduced the first moveable   frames and revolutionized the beekeeping industry.

Langstroth hive is widely used in North America and Australia for beekeeping. A Langstroth hive is very customizable, offering many beekeeping options and simple honey extraction options. It’s essentially a box with 10 wooden hanging frames inside. Beekeepers can use frames with or without foundation. Bees will fill one box at a time with pollen, honey and brood. As your bee population expands and boxes become 70% full, you need to add boxes on top. 

All Langstroth hives are standard sizes, so it’s easy add to. Langstroth hives include a roof, inner cover, boxes, frames, and a bottom board. It comes in three available box depths (deep, medium, and shallow) and two widths (8-frame and 10-frame). Hiveworld’s Langstroth hives are made from the premier New Zealand fir. Our fir is very durable and lasts longer than soft pine!  Our hives are easy to assemble with precision joinery. You can choose from medium, 8-frame box that weighs 40-60 lbs with honey or a deep 10-frame box that weighs 60-80lbs filled with honey. Options for honey extraction are: Crushing and straining, using an extractor, cutting the comb out or using an Auto Extract Super.

Shop Hiveworld Langstroth Hive

Another cool feature with the Langstroth hive is that you can add an Auto Extract Super. The actual Flow Hive was invented in 2015 by a father and son team in Australia. Auto Extract frames are exactly what they sound like. With a twist of a key, you split the honey cells and release the honey to automatically flow out directly into a jar. The super boxes have viewing windows on the backs and sides so that you can see how the bees are doing and what their honey stores look like. Many beekeepers have grown to love them because of the ease of harvesting honey without disturbing the bees. Some don’t like the fact the frames are plastic, but so far, it’s easy and loved by many. Flow frames come in 8 or 10 frame configurations. Shop Flow Supers

Management: You will need to check on your hive regularly especially in the spring and late summer. Hives must be managed regularly, but if you follow our method, you can still plan a summer vacation in July.

The moveable frames make it easy to manage your hive while the four-sided frames also provide comb stability. The boxes can be heavy and weigh anywhere from 80 lbs or more. To inspect lower boxes, you must remove the upper boxes, so you have to be able to lift the heavy weight or have help. With the removable frames, you can also put the wax back for the bees after you extract honey, so that they don’t have to use extra energy (and honey stores) to rebuild it again. 

Time: Moderate
Cost: Low Range ($250+)
Weight: Some Heavy lifting (50+pounds)
Honey Production: Great honey production (A MUST FOR NEW BEEKEEPERS)

 

TOP BAR HIVE

Another popular option is a Top Bar Hive that is one of the oldest and well-used hives around the world. There is no heavy lifting involved. The heaviest comb you have to lift is about 8 lbs. However, this hive does require frequent monitoring and management. Top Bar hives range in lengths of 30” to 40” and beyond because the design is not standardized. A divider in the hive allows the beekeeper to create more or less space in the hive as needed during the beekeeping season.

The hive includes individual wooden bars laid across the top of the hive. The bees build comb naturally from the bars (without the help of a 4-sided frame or foundation), but there is usually a guide to help the bees build the comb straight. The hive is simple in its construction and you do not need frames, excluders etc. With the Top Bar hive, you will have smaller honey harvests more often throughout the season.

Management: You will need to monitor your hive closely to make sure there is enough space-every 1-2 weeks. Inspections are usually short and easy with windows on the side of the hive so you can see in the box. As the colony grows in the Top Bar hive, you add empty bars and move divider boards down the hive to create more space as the colony grows.  

Moving and removing comb requires skill. Comb can break easily off the bars, so for a beginner, it can be tricky. With honey extraction you only have one choice. You need to cut the entire comb off the bar, crush it and then drain the honey out. The bees then have to use extra energy and honey to rebuild the comb and fill it again. 

Time: Moderate to High
Cost: High range ($450+)
Weight: No heavy lifting (bars weigh up to 8lbs)
Honey Production: Low honey production (requires skilled manipulation)

 

WARRE HIVE

A Warre Hive is essentially a vertical top bar hive that uses the same bar method instead of frames. Beekeepers add empty boxes to the bottom of the hive in the spring and harvest full boxes of honey off the top in the fall. Each box has eight bars in a box and must be spaced evenly to provide the correct space for the bees.

The Warre hive was invented by a French monk Abbé Émile Warré. He studied different hive styles to find a simple and natural way to keep bees. He observed that in the wild, bees build top to the bottom, and that is why this design requires that a bottom box be added (nadiring) as the hive expands. 

Management: This hive does not require frequent inspection and Warre hives are typically lower maintenance in comparison to other hives. The idea is that you allow the bees to fill the bottom box in the spring to about 80% full, then add a box to the bottom as the hive expands and then you harvest honey from the top box. Boxes can weigh 40 lbs, so you need to be able to lift heavy weights. To monitor you need to tilt the hive and look inside to see if the box is filling with comb. As fall nears, you check the bottom box for comb and as they empty, you remove them until you are down to 2-3 boxes. Harvesting honey is messy as the bees attached comb to the sides of the hive, so you need a special hive tool to make removal easier. 

Time: Low to Moderate
Cost: Mid Range ($350+)
Weight: Heavy lifting (boxes can weigh +40lbs)
Honey Production: Low honey production (requires skilled manipulation)

 No matter what you choose, do your research, meet with beekeepers, learn as much as you can through hands-on experience and courses. Have questions? Visit our Edmonton Store on Fridays and Saturdays or email us at info@hiveworld.ca.




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