There are a number of different types of honey bee hives. Some are more popular than others, and in part, this may depend upon the country in which you live.
I do wonder if humans have created problems for wild honey bees, through
engaging in practices that have caused disease in domesticated honey
bees, which have then spread through to wild populations. There are now
relatively few wild honey bee populations. However, it’s always worth
remembering how, without domestication by humans, honey bees survive in
the wild. I can’t help feeling that there are some lessons for all, and
not just beginner beekeepers.
In the wild, honey bees naturally seem to like to nest in the cavities of trees, caves or buildings. In doing so, they manage to reproduce and establish new colonies to continue generations of bees. The honey bees make their own combs with a structure and cell size deemed by the bees to be appropriate for larvae and storing the honey. (See the image above - a photograph of wild bee honey combs). They will then eat the honey they have stored in the honey combs during the winter months when forage is scarce and conditions mean they avoid venturing out of their nest.
Honey bee hives, however, were invented by man, as a way of
domesticating honey bees in order to exploit them for honey. In the
past, skeps (pictured above) – essentially straw baskets - were used,
and as soon as honey had been produced by the poor bees, a number of the
colonies were destroyed and the honey taken. Nowadays, skeps may be
used more commonly for capturing swarms. (Read more about the history of beekeeping).
For information about selecting and purchasing a bee hive (new and second hand) see this link.
Here is a link for free downloadable bee hive construction plans.
In the meantime, here are some of the types of honey bee hives available.
Top Bar Hives
Used by Natural Beekeepers. Top bar hives
are designed to allow the bees to make their own honey combs and cells
according to the size and shape they desire.
Vertical or horizontal top bar hives may be used. The vertical top bar hive was especially advocated by Emile Warré in the early twentieth century. He designed the Warré hive, which he also called ‘The People’s Hive’.
In general, Natural Beekeeping aims for a low level of interference by humans, with Warré beekeeping traditionally advocating the least interference of all the methods.
The top bar hive pictured above left is a photograph by Phil Chandler, a Natural Beekeeper. It is taken from his free download explaining how to build such a top bar hive, and a link to that page is featured below.
Conventional Honey Bee Hives:
The Langstroth Hive
Widely used in the USA, it has a deep brood box and about ten frames.
The National Hive
Featured left. Commonly used in Britain and Europe, and similar to the Langstroth hive, used widely in the USA.
This hive - featured right - was designed by by William Broughton Carr around 1890. In Britain, it is the image many people have of the traditional bee hive. Often thought of as being inconvenient to have and dismantle.
Used sometimes in Scotland. Holds 13 frames, and built to similar dimensions as a National Hive.
Again, similar to a Langstroth Hive, and all the parts are interchangeable. The Dadant is often used in France and also in some parts of Spain.
Having the same dimensions as a National Hive, this honey bee hive is designed to encourage a large volume of honey in the supers.
Learn more on the following links.
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