DIFFERENT KINDS OF BEEHIVES

A sting from a bee can happen out of nowhere. If you are outside during the spring, there is a high chance bees could be flying around whether they are looking for pollen or heading back to their colony. Either way, it is always good to be prepared and ready just in case you or someone you know is stung by a bee.

With the importance of bees in the natural ecosystem, it is a standard practice to make sure they have a safe home while keeping everyone around them safe as well. Whether bees are in a natural beehive or a man-made one, there are numerous variations of hives that each serve a specific purpose in housing colonies both big and small

NATURAL HIVES

When it comes to naturally made beehives, these are the stereotypical hives seen outdoors. While these hives take on many different sizes and shapes, they all share specific structural details.

The main detail is the hexagonal shape used in storing the honey. The honeycombs are always formed in this six-sided shape because of the ability to hold honey better than other shapes. The bees will use heat in order to melt the sides of their honeycombs to form this shape for each hive. This shape is also used so no space is wasted when creating the hive.

Propolis, which is a substance from tree buds that bees collect, is then used to fill crevices in the honeycomb to make the hive structurally sound. 

LANGSTROTH HIVES

Developed in the mid 1800’s by Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth, this hive is one of the most common hives used in North America.

The Langstroth Hive’s simple design helps to make keeping bees in this contraption very simple. The structure is made with box-shaped hives that are stacked on top of one another and each has moveable frames to access each individual row of comb.

The hive is very adaptable as there are many variations to it. The boxes have numerous variations as it has three different depths and two different widths. When it comes to depths, the hives range from deep, medium and shallow depths. For widths, the hives can have either eight or ten frames.  

The only disadvantage to having the Langstroth is the weight. These boxes can range from a weight of 30 pounds all the way to 100 pounds so heavy lifting will be necessary if they are to be transported.

TOP BAR HIVE

While the Langstroth is one of the most common hives used in North America, The Top Bar Hive is the most commonly used hive around the world.

The hive gets its namesake because instead of using frames, bars are used on top of the hive body so that the colony of bees can use them to form living space. It gives enough space for the bees to build what they need. This also gives beekeepers easy access to remove the combs if and when necessary.

The design of the hive gives easy access for the bees to come and go while being able to adjust size as the hive and colonies grow. A roof is also used to keep the colonies warm in the winter time as well as reflecting sun during the summer so as to not overheat the bees.

The only real downside to this kind of hive is its delicate nature because there is no true foundation to the hive which can require constant care and maintenance.

WARRE HIVE

The Warre Hive is very similar to the Top Bar Hive with one major difference. The difference between the two is that the Warre hive is vertical from top to bottom compared to the horizontal design of the Top Bar Hive.

The hive works in a similar way as the Top Bar Hive as well as there is no true foundation, but instead there are bars placed inside the boxes where bees will create and house their colonies. A roof is put on top of the boxes and followed by a quilt cover for insulation purposes. Under the hive-body boxes, there is an entrance for the bees to come and go at the bottom of the hive. 

These kinds of hives make for easy access to the honeycombs and are a cheaper alternative to the traditional Langstroth hive as they are not hard to put together with your own supplies.

With there being no foundation like the Top Bar Hive, these can also need more maintenance and care compared to other hives.

WBC HIVE

Known as the classic beehive, the WBC is one of the most common used hives in the United Kingdom. It is still used in North America as well but not as much as the UK.

These hives are the only current day ones to still use a double-walled design for insulation purposes.

Other features of the hive include narrow inner boxes, short legs and a pitched roof. The inner boxes are similar to most other hives as this is where the colonies will create their home. The short legs are used to create a gap at the bottom of the hive similar to how the Warre Hive is designed. The pitched roof is used as the exit for the bees and is generally covered in metal.

While the design is very attractive and easy to disassemble, the disadvantages that come along with are hard to overlook. If the walls inside the hive become damp, it can cause numerous problems for the bees inside, especially during the winter months.

HORIZONTAL LAYENS HIVE

This kind of Hive, which was developed in the 19th century by Georges de Layens, is used in climates with drastic weather as they do an excellent job in insulating bees from harsh warm and cold weather.

There are currently more than one million of these hives in circulation being used today.

A thick wall is created that is the placement for where the honeycombs are built and each Layens frame can hold up to 12 lbs of honey. These hives are also built horizontally so they are easy to access for beekeepers while not disrupting the colonies.

Taking the good with the bad, these kinds of hives cannot add more supers if the colony begins to grow larger. However, they are very inexpensive to create and make on your own.

Taking the good with the bad, these kinds of hives cannot add more supers if the colony begins to grow larger. However, they are very inexpensive to create and make on your own.

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