This is the fourth installment of our Beekeeping 101 series. Before you get bees, you should consider how they are going to live—and build a hive!
The most common hive uses the Langstroth method. This beginner’s guide to beekeeping explores the parts of the hive.
Below is a picture of the Langstroth hive as well as a listing of the basic parts of the hive and what they are used for.
Credit (illustration): Sonoma Bees
- Outer/Telescoping Cover—Keeps the whole hive dry from rain. Similar to a roof on a house.
- Inner Cover—Contains a bee escape, which is important when collecting honey. This board gets placed below the honey super, causing the workers to move into the brooding chamber but stopping them from moving back up toward you.
- Shallow/Honey Super—Where the honey is stored.
- Queen Excluder—Allows only worker bees to pass through, keeping the queen and drones away from the honey.
- Frames—Where honeycomb is created and honey is collected.
- Foundation—An artificial comb that encourages the bees to produce more honeycomb.
- Brood Chamber—Where the queen and drones birth new bees.
- Entrance Cleat—How the bees get into the hive in the winter (rather than using a reversible bottom board).
- Bottom Board—What the hive is placed on. A reversible bottom board has two rims: a short one for winter and a tall one for summer.
- Hive Stand—Keeps everything off the ground and prevents the hive from rotting.
There are a few other things to keep in mind when constructing a hive.
Make sure that the hive is
- Sheltered from wind
- Above stagnant water
- Warmable by the morning sun
- Near a source of water (bees need to drink, too!)
- Painted. Never use toxic paints. Use different colors based on your region. For example, most hives are white to reflect the sun, but beekeepers up north may want to use black to keep warmth during the long winter.
- Protected by a barrier from streets, etc. This will also force the bees to fly up and over cars, people, etc., thus causing them to be less of a nuisance and helping them to stay alive.
Next, learn where to get your bees.