Bee Hives. A Beginners Guide to Bee Hives

Detailed Bee Hive Box
Detailed Bee Hive Box

When you’ve made the decision to start keeping bees, the next think you’ll want to do is start shopping for bee hives.  Unfortunately there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about bee hives, bee boxes, and the various components of a complete bee hives system.  The bee hive or bee box is one of the most important components of a beekeepers beekeeping supplies.

Most modern beekeepers prefer the “Langstroth” style bee hives so that is what we will discuss in this article.  We’ll work our way from the bottom up.

Bee Hives Stand

Bee Hive Base
Bee Hive Base

The bottom most piece of a bee hive, the hive stand elevates the bee hive up off of the ground and helps insulate the hive and the bees from the cold ground in winter and the ground critters and bugs in the summer.   The hive stand will usually have a slanted front to help keep unwanted bugs and critters from entering the hive.

Bee Hives Bottom Board

The bee hive bottom board sits just above the hive stand and is the base of the area that the bees will inhabit.  Some beekeepers prefer this base to be made of screen to allow better airflow in the hive and to help keep the bee free of mites.  The bottom board also has the bees entrance to the hive built in to the front of it.  Some bottom boards may come with the ability to control the size of this entrance.  This can be helpful with the management of your bee hives.

Bee Hive Body

Brood Chamber

The bee hive body sits on top of the bee hive bottom board.  This is the box that will hold the brood of bees and where the bees will store honey for their own sustenance.  The bee hive body, also known as the “lower deep super” or “brood chamber” is usually of the deep super variety and will usually hold 8 or 10 frames.


Bee Hives Frame
Bee Hives Frame

The bee hive frames are the heart of the hive.  They are the foundation for the bees to build honeycomb on which will eventually hold honey eggs, pollen, etc.  There are many different kinds of frames, but the important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your frames are the same size as your supers.

Queen Excluder

Many beekeepers chose to place a queen excluder.  This is a flat screen-like layer that sets between the brood super and the honey supers, is used to keep the queen from laying eggs in the honey supers.  This makes hive management easier.  It is usually made of plastic or metal and has holes big enough for the worker bees to pass through, but too small for the queen.

Food Chamber

Some beekeepers chose to place an additional  deep super above brood chamber to provide additional food (honey) for the bees.  This is especially useful in areas that have long winters.

Honey Super

Bee Hives Outside
Bee Hives Outside

Now we’re getting to the fun part.  The honey super is the box that sits above the brood chamber and the food chamber, and is where you will be harvesting your honey.  Most beekeepers like to use medium or shallow supers for this purpose because deep supers can become very heavy with honey and can be hard to handle.  After a year or two, most bee hives will produce enough honey to have multiple honey supers.  Keep adding honey supers until your bees wont make honey in them any more.

Inner Cover

The inner cover goes above your top honey super.  It is usually made out of wood and has a small hole in the middle.  This cover helps with proper hive management.

Telescoping Cover

Starter Beehive Kit
Starter Beehive Kit

The uppermost lid of bee hives is called the Telescoping cover or sometimes the outer cover.  This cover is usually made of wood, metal or plastic, and covers the inner cover and hangs down an inch or so over the top honey super.

Well that about covers it.  There are many other fancy components people add to their bee hives but those are the essentials.  I hope this article helps you better understand bee hives and their components, and encourage you to have look around the site to learn more about beekeeping supplies.

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