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.

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