Understanding The Parts Of A Beehive

8 Frame and 10 Frame Langstroth Bee Hives

A standard 8 frame or 10 frame Langstroth hive consists of several components. The basic setup for each size of hive is the same, the only difference being how many frames will fit in each size. The 8 frame hives are mainly used because they will weigh less when filled with honey, while the 10 frame hives are the more commonly used size. Beehives are also most widely available in Pine or Cedar wood. In this beekeeping information course, we are going to explain what each component is and what it does, to help you get a better understanding of bee hive components.

Bottom Board

Painted Bottom Boards  Cedar Bottom Boards

The bottom board is the floor of the beehive. The bottom board also consists of a removable entrance reducer, which acts as the front door for the bees. You want to keep it to the small opening during the cooler months of fall so your bees can easily defend their hive against robbing bees with the smaller entrance; during the winter, to keep mice and other creatures out and to keep some cold air out while still allowing some ventilation through the hive; and during the spring so your bees can keep their hive temperature regulated better to allow for fast population build up. The entrance reducer also includes a bigger entrance for use once the weather gets warm and the bees need more ventilation and entrance room to let more worker bees through. During the hot summer months when the honey flow is going, you should remove the entrance reducer completely out from the front of the hive, to assist with ventilation and also to give the bees more area to go in and out of the hive, allowing for faster honey production. You want to watch for the end of the honey flow: as soon as the bees stop working so hard, you need to put the entrance reducer back on to the bigger entrance side or your hive will get robbed by other hives in the area. Robbing can completely eliminate all of your honey and kill your hive.

Screened Bottom Board

Painted screened bottom boards   Cedar screened bottom boards

Screened bottom boards are used in place of the standard bottom board mainly during the hot summer months, to help provide your bees the adequate ventilation that they need. We have specially manufactured our own design for a screened bottom board with a pull out drawer to make cleaning easier. You can leave the drawer out during the summer, then slide it back in during the fall. The pull out drawer is made tight enough in the bottom board so that you can leave this bottom board on all winter long.

9-5/8" Hive Body

Painted 9-5/8 Cedar 9-5/8

The first box on the hive is called the brood chamber. This is because the brood chamber is where the bees live and where the queen lays eggs. The standard size for this box is usually 9-5/8" tall, but some beekeepers prefer to use 6-5/8" boxes for the brood chamber because of the lighter weight. This box will hold either 8 frames or 10 frames, depending on the size of hive setup you choose. During the spring, replace one of the frames from this box with an in-hive frame feeder filled with sugar syrup to help your bees get their population ahead for the honey flow. Once your bees get built up enough to fill this box, you will want to add an additional brood box on to give your bees room to expand.

9-1/8" Deep Frames

9-1/8   9-1/8

These 9-1/8" frames are used in the 9-5/8" deep hive bodies. The most widely used types are wooden frames with either wax coated plastic foundation or real beeswax foundation, and plastic one piece frames that are wax coated. The wax coating on the plastic foundation and frames helps promote bees' acceptance of the foundation. The black plastic foundation is most commonly used for the brood box; there will be times when you can't see the queen during your hive inspection, but you can look into the cells on the black frames and easily spot the tiny white eggs against the black color and know that your queen is alive and well, without having to spend a lot of time finding her. Plus, the bees prefer the black for the brood frame.

Queen Excluder

Metal queen excluder   10 frame plastic queen excluder

The queen excluder is made from metal or plastic and is used to keep your queen honey bee down in the brood chambers, as she is too big to fit in between the slats. This way she cannot go up into the honey super and lay eggs, so you can be sure there is only honey in the upper boxes.

6-5/8" Honey Supers

6-5/8   6-5/8 

These boxes are called the honey supers, and they are where the bees store their extra honey at, the honey that you can take from them and extract. During a really good honey flow, the bees will fill these quickly, so you want to watch your hive and put on more honey supers as needed. You could also take the supers off, extract the honey and replace the supers on the hive to have the bees fill them up again.

6-1/4" Super Frames

6-1/4   6-1/4

These 6-1/4" frames are used in the 6-5/8" honey supers. They come in either wooden frames with wax coated plastic foundation, or plastic one piece wax coated frames. The wooden frames are also used with real beeswax foundation. The wax coating on the plastic foundation and frames help promotes the bees' acceptance, and some brands of the white wax coated plastic foundation have a honey smell added to them to help out as well.

Inner Cover

Inner Cover

There are several reasons to use the inner cover. The bees will glue the inner cover down to the hive instead of the telescoping lid. The inner cover also provides extra room above the top bars for the bees to move across. Most inner covers have a hole cut in the center to allow use of a top feeder on the hive. Some inner covers also include a notch which helps ventilate the hive and also serves as an upper entrance.

Telescoping Lid

Painted telescoping lid   Cedar telescoping lid

The telescoping lid is the top of your hive and is usually covered with aluminum to provide protection to your hive from the weather. You always want to place a brick or a large rock on top of the lid to keep the wind from blowing the top off of your hive. 

That covers all of the basic components to a Langstroth beehive. Now we will go over a few optional pieces of equipment.

Hive Stand

Hive Stand

The hive stand is used to keep your beehive up off the ground to prevent your bottom board from getting ruined from moisture and dirt. It also brings your beehive up to a more comfortable level to work. It is also a useful tool during the hot summertime when used with the screened bottom board and the screened inner cover to provide your hive with adequate ventilation.

Screened Inner Cover

Screened inner cover

The screened inner cover is used during the summer to provide your beehive with adequate ventilation, which helps keep the bees cooler and also helps the bees dry the honey down.

Fume Board

Fume board

The fume board is used when it is time to take the honey supers off from your hives for extraction. Spray the underside of the fume board with a bee removal aid and place the fume board on top of the hive. Solar heat will build up on the metal top of the fume board and will increase the amount of fumes from the bee removal aid inside of the hive and will drive your bees down out of the honey supers, making it easier to take the supers off from your hive. 

From all of us here at Lappe's Bee Supply and Honey Farm LLC,

Happy Beekeeping from Lappe's Bee Supply!

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