Choosing the Right Beehive – What is best for you


Choosing a Hive.

In this article I am go to give you some points to consider when Choosing the right beehive for you.

 

What is best for you and your situation.

If you remember a colony of bees is quite happy to make itself a home in any space that has a suitable cavity, this could be a dustbin, a roofspace, a chimney anywhere that they are able to build comb and protect the colony from invaders.

The type of hive you choose to keep your bees in is entirely up to you. For example if you are only planning on having a couple of hives at the bottom of the garden, then you might choose the WBC as these make a very attractive addition to the area. If on the other hand you decide that you will be keeping bees on a larger scale, or that you may need to move them to different forage areas then my recommendation would be to go for one of the single walled hive types, this makes moving or manipulating the hive much easier for you.

Another consideration is your local climate, if you live in a warmer part of the country, where the bees are likely to be more prolific you may want to consider using one of the larger size brood chambers, alternatively you could use 2 normal brood boxes and have what is known as a double brood.

I cannot recommend highly enough that you should become a member of your local beekeeping association. There you will be able to attend talks and learn best practice from the outset, many run courses during the winter months for newcomers to the hobby. You will also get to know what the most popular hive is in your particular area which means that supplies are more readily available.

 

Never mix hive types.

When you have made you decision, stick with it, that way all the frames will fit all the boxes and the boxes will all fit together correctly and all hive parts will be compatible with each other. Trust me if you have a mixture of hive types, when you urgently need a particular item you won’t have a spare one.

Remember never mix Top & Bottom bee space hives:

Top Bee space hives are: Langstroth, Dadent & Smith hives.

Bottom Bee space hives are: National, WBC & Commercial.


Lets get a little deeper into this.

I will be referring to the National Hive here as this is the type of hive I personally use. As the national is a square box you can place the box ontop of  the floor with the frames parallel to the entrance (the warm way) or at right angles to the entrance (cold way)

The are a number of advantages to having it the warm way, the main one being that when you are carrying out any manipulations within the hive, you will be standing behind it so keeping away from the entrance and the activity there, another being that bees can be reluctant to draw comb just inside the entrance and so having the frames the warm way will mean only one comb is affected, whereas the cold way a number of frames may not get drawn into comb.

The brood nest in the hive is roughly spherical in shape, this is enclosed by a layer of cells containing Pollen and the rest of the comb being used to store honey. So if you think of each frame as a slice through the sphere, when the frames are placed the warm way the brood pattern is generally symmetical with the brood in the middle. If the frames are placed in the cold way, most of the time the brood is found towards the entrance side of the frames with the stores to the back of the hive and the pollen above.

In the winter the bees will cluster around the brood nest to maintain the correct temperature of the colony by consuming the stores. As the stores become depleted the cluster naturally moves upwards to more honey stores, it is not natural for the cluster to move sideways,  more so as this means crossing the gap between frames. This means that a colony of frames that are placed the cold way may actually starve in the winter as the stores are to the side of the cluster. This is know as Isolation Starvation. It is important when they are being fed for the winter to ensure the stores are above the cluster.

 

If you have any comments or questions then just leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as possible, why not sign up while you are here and be ahead of the game everytime a new article appears.

 

Till next time

Keith

 

4 comments

  1. Good article on beehives construction .Here in Canada there seems to a lack of bees for some reason for this they say because of bees-decline are industrial agriculture, parasites/pathogens and climate change. The loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitat and lack of forage due to monocultures and bee-killing pesticides are particular threats for honeybees and wild pollinators. Keep up the good work friend because need bees to continue to pollinate to help the Eco system to maintain balance

    1. Exactly the same issues over here Erick, thanks for your comment. Over here now we have a new threat to contend with, namely Asian Hornets, I will be putting up an article about this in the next week hopefully. Thanks again

  2. Hi Keith, we have a massive shortage of Bees in South Africa, I believe globally the numbers are decreasing and it is effecting ecosystems. They are so important to life and yet mankind is destroying them. Its people like you who are helping. A big well done

    1. Hi Craig, Things are definitely difficult around the world for bees, the latest threat we have in the UK is the Asian Hornet. What with pesticides, huge areas that are essentially deserts because of mono cultures leading to lack of diversity of available forage, Varroa issues. I think things can change but it needs serious work by governments to help.

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