What is a beehive?

A beehive is the place that a colony of honey bees calls its home. A quick search of the internet reveals that beehives come in all shapes and sizes. While beekeepers generally create man made structures for the bees to live in, they can also live in hollow tree trunks or find a hole in your house and make a wall or any empty space work. The type of beehive I use is a called a 10 frame Langstroth. It is name after its inventor Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth and was originally patented on October 5th 1852. The picture above shows my hives in their overwintering formation.

In the picture above we will start at the bottom and work our way up:

  1. Stand – It is recommended to place your beehives on a stand. Some stands are very fancy while others use basic setups such as cinder blocks. Stands are important to keep ground moisture as well other insects, such as ants, out.
  2. Bottom board – Bottom boards come in two main types solid or screened. Regardless of which is used, they provide a place for the bees to land and create the main entrance for the hive.
  3. Slatted rack – While not as common as the other components, these provide some space between the entrance and the comb in the Deep Boxes. This is useful in the summer to give bees extra space to hang out while still being inside the structure. During cooler seasons it creates an air gap that in my opinion encourages the bees to use the full comb available to them.
  4. Deep boxes – These are largely where the bees live. They will raise their brood (baby bees) here as well as store nectar and honey for the winter.
  5. Inner Cover – This thin piece of wood allows for an upper entrance. Not that in the winter it is flipped upside down (as pictured) to help retain heat.
  6. Moisture quilt – I keep moisture quilts on my hive to help provide some insulation from the cold as well as to ensure the bees stay nice and dry in the winter.
  7. Outer cover – Every house needs a roof! These roofs are held in place with something heavy such as a rock.

In the summer, in between numbers four and five would be shallow supers. These boxes are very similar to deep boxes, however, they are shorter. The intent is to have the bees store extra honey here which can later be harvested!

Want to see inside a hive? Visit the About page to watch a video!