Choosing a Beekeeping Hive

Choosing a Beekeeping Hive

Article by Alex Stavros

To be a successful beekeeper you need to understand the most basic piece of beekeeping equipment, the hive.

People have been keeping bees for centuries but until the invention of the Longstroth hive, the colony of bees had to be killed or driven off in order to harvest the honey. This meant that the beekeeper then had to capture another wild swarm and establish a new colony starting all over again.

With the invention of the movable frame hive it became possible to collect the honey while still maintaining a healthy bee colony. This type of hive is still the most popular type used today, particularly for commercial honey production.

The body of a movable frame hive is based on an open frame that usually holds 10 suspended combs. The combs are wooden frames that surround a wax or plastic foundation. The bees then build out the comb following the pattern imprinted on the foundation.

There are some disadvantages to this type of hive the main one is that a full box of honey is quite heavy, so the beekeeper needs to be physically capable of lifting the heavy boxes.

After the honey has been extracted the comb is returned to the hive and reused by the bees. As the bees don’t have to rebuild the combs you get more honey quickly.

Another type of hive that is popular in developing countries and with hobby beekeepers is the top bar hive. In top bar hive there is no foundation and the the bees build their own style of honeycomb. The comb is suspended from from the wooden top bars that give this style of hive its name.

The advantages of this style of hive is its simplicity, which makes it a much cheaper option. As well as this, the honey is harvested by taking individual full honeycombs, so there is no heavy lifting.

The disadvantage of a top bar hive is that as the bees need to rebuild the honeycomb each time, so less honey is produced. Despite the lack of quantity, the honey from a top bar hive is usually of high quality and a lighter color.

As well as deciding which style of hive will best meet you needs, you need to think about where your going to locate your hive. You don’t need to worry about about locating the hive near nectar producing plants, as the bees are very efficient and will travel as much as 50 miles in round trip.

You do need to make sure that your bees have a nearby supply of fresh drinking water. Otherwise they will go in search of their own supply, and your neighbors paddling pool could well be where they go. This is not good for neighborhood relations, so make sure you give the bees a water source on your own property.

Make sure you don’t put your hive close to other people houses or close to anywhere other people will be passing close to the hive. While only about one in two hundred people are allergic to bee stings, the results of an allergic reaction can be very severe.

Finally choose the type of hive that will be the best for you, if you want to lots of honey to sell, an a full box of honey wont be problem for you, go with the Langstroth hive. If you want the lighter option and you need peak honey production then choose a top bar hive.

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