The Sections that make up The Hives are all the same irrespective of the type you choose. In this article we are going to have closer look at each section, and explain a little more about each.
Basic Hive (from the Bottom upwards)
- Hive Stand
- Brood Box
- Queen Excluder
The Hive Stand.
I would always recommend a good, sturdy hive stand. They need to be strong to hold the weight of the hive as it increases during the summer months, they also need to be at a comfortable height for the beekeeper to put less strain on your back during hive manipulations. It is a good idea if possible to place a concrete paving slab on the ground on which you can put the stand, this will help with good air flow to the hive and also greatly reduce the need for cutting nettles/weeds etc from under the hive.
Next up we come to the floor on which the hive will stand. These come in 2 different styles, a solid floor and an Open Mesh Floor or OMF. Personally I only use the OMF, my reason being that it makes it easier to monitor the drop of mites from the hive easily, so for the purpose of this guide I will assume you are going to do the same.
OMF floors have a wooden frame onto which a mesh is fixed, underneath the mesh in the frame is either a groove or runners on which you can insert a removable board. They have a couple of advantages when compared to solid floors. They help to provide ventilation to the hive and they make it much easier to monitor the natural mite drop from the hive and also the drop during any treatments that are being used. An entrance reducer is also used with the floor, this enables the entrance to the hive to be reduced in the wintertime and also helps to stop intruders and the smaller entrance is easier for the bees to protect.
Brood Boxes or Brood Chamber.
The Brood box stands directly on the floor, in here the queen will lay her eggs, pollen and honey are also stored here to feed to the developing larvae. The brood box usually contains 11 frames, which are mounted on runners fixed to opposite sides of the box. The frames are placed on these runners in one of two ways. If the frames sit with their tops flush with the top of the box walls, this is known as Bottom bee space, and if the frames are set so that the bottom bars are flush with the bottom of the box this is known as Top bee space.
Queen Excluders come in a variety of materials all of which are designed to stop the Queen from going up into the Honey Supers and laying eggs in there. It is just a screen made from either plastic, zinc sheet or metal bars in a wooden frame. Personally I would not recommend the ones made of zinc sheet, they can have very sharp edges which is not good for the bees or for your hands! Also do bend and get distorted over time which changes the size and shape of the gaps which could then let the Queen through. I use the plastic ones in my hives, they are easy to keep clean. I haven’t personally tried the ones with metal bars, but they are seem quite popular among some beekeepers, I guess it is a case of getting advice as to what you use.
Supers or Honey Boxes.
A Super generally will take between 9 and 12 frames depending on the spacing, these are shallower than the frames used in the Brood Box and will go cover the differences in a later article. Unlike the brood frames the ones in the supers are kept slightly further apart this is achieved by either having spacers fitted to the ends of the lugs, which apparently are quite fiddly or more commonly castellated spacers which make manipulations much easier.
The Crown board is placed above the topmost super, it usually will have a couple of openings where Porter Bee Escapes can be fitted if the board is used as a clearing board. Once again I will cover all these explanations more clearly in later articles and there will also be a Glossary of terms to help.
Does exactly what it says on the tin! Roofs are usually covered in metal sheet to make them more able to withstand the wind and rain. They usually also have ventilation slots cut into them which are covered with wire mesh to keep out robber bees and other pests. I would recommend a flat roof and not a Gable roof, it can then be placed upside down on the ground during inspections and the supers can then be placed on top. The sides of the roof vary in depth, the deeper they are then the less likelihood of them blowing off in a gale, although it is always advisable to strap the hives firmly to the hive stand with adjustable ratchet straps to avoid such problems.
I hope you have found this article interesting and helpful, if you have any question or comments Please do leave them below. Thank you
Until Next time