Archive for the ‘Bee Hives’ Category


Alternative Ways of Beekeeping

For an alternative method to the normal techniques we have been discussing. This article introduces some interesting alternatives.

Top Bar Hive – An Alternative Beekeeping Method

The topbar beehive is not a new concept. Historical reference to the top-bar hive date back to the 1600’s. Most of today’s top bar bee hives are derived from work in the 1960’s. It was perfected for use in Kenya, Africa, and is often referred to as the Kenya Hive. Today it is also used in many other developing countries for it’s simple design and cost effective management methods. In recent years it has also become more popular in the United States.

The traditional Langstroth beehive consists of several boxes (supers) and numerous other parts that are either difficult to build or expensive to buy. In addition to the beehive, the Langstroth hive requires many other pieces of equipment to harvest honey and manage your bees. Not so with the top bar hive as you can read below.

Simple and Maintenance-Free

The top bar hive has only a few components: the hive body (box), 20 to 30 top bars (frames), and a lid. That’s all you will ever need. Compare that to your Langstroth hive. Bees build their own comb which eliminates the need for costly frames. The top bars are re-used after the harvest.

Non-Invasive Design

The top bar hive is healthier for bees. To check your bees, you will not have to take the whole thing apart. Hence, your bees will be less disturbed by your presence and checking of the comb.

Easy Harvest

To harvest your honey, you simply remove the bars with honeycomb. Unlike traditional methods, you won’t have to take the hive apart and disturb the bees as much. Not only is the top bar hive less stressful to harvest for you, it also does not disturb the bees as much. In addition to honey, the top bar hive has more beeswax to harvest. You also do not need a honey extractor/centrifuge or uncapping knife which saves you thousands of dollars. Smoking is completely unnecessary and many top bar hive users do not wear protective clothing either. (For the beginner I do advise to use some kind of protection, gloves and veil as the minimum!) Once you remove the honey comb, the bees will go about their business as usual. Try that on a Langstroth hive.

Healthier Bees

The top bar hive is designed for the bees’ optimal living conditions. This makes a colony much stronger and enables it to fight off pests and diseases on their own, much better than in a Langstroth hive. Besides healthier bees this will save you hundreds of dollars in medication as well as disappointment.

Why doesn’t everyone use top bar hives?

The top bar hive is not designed for maximum honey production, although there have been reports otherwise. For the hobby beekeeper a few pounds less honey are well worth the ease of management. You will harvest more beeswax with a top bar hive though. Any hobbyist should have more of an interest in keeping healthy bees than in squeezing out a few more pounds of honey from a stressed, overworked colony. With just one top bar hive, you will still have more than enough honey for your whole family and friends.

By: petitepets

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More information about the top bar hive as well as pictures, construction plans, forum and sources to buy one can be found on

 As you can see there are many different ways to the normal beekeeping techniques we have become accustomed to.

Compact Bee Hives

A beehive is an enclosed structure that houses and raises honey bees.  Natural beehives, also called as nest, occur naturally on natural structures like trees, bushes etc. and are occupied by honey bee colonies.  Honey bees that are domesticated for production of honey are housed in man-made beehives.  Generally, only subgenus Apis species reside in hives, and out of these species only Apis mellifera, also known as Western honey bee, and the Apis cerana, known as Eastern honey bee, are domesticated.

The internal structure of a hive consists of a matrix that is densely packed with hexagonal cells that are made of beeswax.  This is referred as honeycomb. These cells are utilized to store pollen and honey and for providing shelter to eggs, larvae and pupae.

A man made small bee hive should be economical, compact and easy to handle.  There are various types of hives:

Fixed-comb hive: This is man-made cavity that can be bark cylinders, hollowed-out logs, basket of straw, wooden boxes, bamboo or wicker, metal cans, or drums.   You will find honey bees attached to the combs directly at the upper surfaces of fixed-comb hive generally to the sides. There is space between combs left by honey bees. This hive cannot be replaced as comb can be removed only by cutting it.  This kills the bees.  Though this type of hive is economical, it is not widely used for this reason.

Langstroth hive, which is widely used hive for domesticated honey bee, is moveable frame hive.  It is so named because it was invented by Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth.  It is used in 75% of beekeeping around the world.  This small beehive is compact hive which provides bee space which helps them to propolize small spaces which is less than 1/4 inch.

Langstroth hive makes use of standard size for hive body that is a rectangular box without top or bottom and a frame.  The parts are interchangeable and the frame can be
removed easily to inspect and replace without killing the bees.

Langstroth hive body is rectangular-shaped styrofoam or wooden box which is stacked to expand the space that can be used by the bees. Frames inside the boxes are hung in parallel fashion.  The size of the hive depends on air temperature outside along with source of food in winter.  In winter, large food storage is required.  The box is made slightly deeper in winter. 

Langstroth frame is a thin rectangular structure that can be made from plastic or wood.  It has plastic or wax foundation that is the base for honey bees to draw out the comb. The frame holds the beeswax honeycomb that is manufactured by honey bees.  Generally, 10 frames that are side-to-side fill the body of the hive along with leaving the required amount of bee space between each frame.  This also leaves enough space between the end frames and the hive body.

Langstroth frames should be reinforced with wire.  This helps in extracting honey in centrifuges that spin the honey out of the frames. The empty frames are reused next season.

How to Build Bee Hives

Honey bees generally construct their nests in a cavity that attaches its upper part to the combs. The nest sites which are also known as hives are more often not accessible to the person who wants to gather honey. In case a colony is accessible, it might destroy the cavity as well as the combs to gather the hive products. How to build bee hives and manage them is based on manipulating the comb so as to adjust the space required for the colony or inspect the condition of the colony. Therefore, it is essential to construct bee hive that separates the brood nest from the honey stores, allowing separate access to each area.

The different types of hives and the method of building bee hives are as follows:

1. Fixed-comb hives: These are man-made cavities which can be bark cylinders, hollowed-out logs, clay pots, basket of straw, wooden boxes, bamboo or wicker, metal cans, wicker containers that are plastered with mud or drums. Hives can even be carved in the mud walls of houses.

In case of fixed-comb hives, the honey bees are attached to the combs directly at the upper surfaces of the hive generally to the sides. The space between the combs is left by honey bees naturally while they construct them. These hives cannot be replaced as it is possible to remove comb only by cutting them. This process can kill the bees.

The advantages of fixed-comb hives are that material required to build them are readily available and are free of any cost. The bee wax produced by this method is very high. The disadvantages of this hives are that they cannot be replaced and it is not possible to examine the condition of hive and manipulate them. Production of honey by this type of hive is limited and is of low quality.

2. Moveable-comb hives: These types of hives allow for attachment of the comb as they have a series of bars at the top. These bars are spaced so as to provide the honey bees
sufficient space to build a comb which can be centered on each bar and to spare a bee space between combs. This type of hive can be built from many materials, like bamboo, straw, metal, mud-plastered baskets or wood. Wood is considered the best choice for the top bars. The width of the top bars is very essential part. Generally, the sides of the hive are slopped about 120 degrees. This limits combs attachment to the hive’s side and thus removing them is easier without breaking them. These hives are also called intermediate or transitional hives because they present beekeeping technology which is economic as well as advanced form of hive making.

The advantages of moveable-comb hives are that they can be removed and replaced without destruction. This helps in beekeeping. These hives control swarming and help in increasing colonies with easy methods of queen bee rearing. They are simple and economic to build and produce high beeswax. High quality and quantity of honey can be harvested through these types of hives.