LESSON 7: Beekeeping Equipment & Hive Assembly
Posted on June 17, 2011.
To be successful in beekeeping, certain beekeeping equipment is necessary. All equipment must be uniform and standard when assembling a hive.
There are several types of hives in use today. TheLangstroth, Top Bar, Warre, or a custom design.
- Modern Bee Hive
GloryBee sells the Langstroth style of hive. The Langstroth bee hive, patented on October 1852, is the standard beehive used in many parts of the world for beekeeping. It can hold a total of 10 frames inside the hive body. A start up hive typically begins with only one hive body that you will insert your packaged bees into. This hive body (also called a brood chamber) will be for brood rearing, honey and pollen storage for food. As the bees multiply and begin to fill the frames, then you can add another hive body on top for the bees to expand into and begin to store honey. This second story is usually added when 7 out of 10 frames are full. We have nicknamed these two deep boxes the brood and food chambers. The hive bodies added on top of the brood chambers are usually called a honey super.
- Bee Space: Langstroth discovered that honeybees always allow a 3/8" space between combs. Any greater space is filled with additional comb and any smaller space is filled with propolis.
- Hive Stand - The entire hive sits on a hive stand. This can be built out of wood, cinder blocks or even placed on a stump. GloryBee also sells a hive stand made out of plastic.
- Bottom Board - This is the bottom floor of the hive and creates the entrance to the hive. Many beekeepers will use a screened bottom board. This helps with mite control and improves ventilation.
- Slatted Rack - Use a slatted rack for better egg laying and less gnawing. Adds more cluster space for less congestion.
- Entrance Reducer/Cleat - A reduces the entrance and can be used in the winter months to close up the entrance so it is very small. GloryBee sells both metal entrance reducers and wooden entrance reducers.
- Hive Body/Super - Hive Body/Supers are the boxes that holds the frames in place. They can be a brood chamber or honey super.
- Brood Chamber/Deep Super - This is where all of the eggs will be laid, bee pollen and honey stored for maturing bees. A deep brood chamber is a 9 5/8" super. In the Pacific Northwest we use two 9 5/8" supers, everything in these two supers are for the bees.
- Western Box/Honey Supers - This is where the bees will store the honey and this is where you will extract your honey from. A typical honey super is a 6 5/8" super. The reduced size allows easier handling when full. A full honey super can weigh up to 40 pounds!
- Ross Round Honey Super - This is used for making the round comb honey. A Ross Round super is 4 5/8" and should only be used on a thriving, established hive.
- Inner Cover - An inner cover is used so that the outer cover is easier to remove. Also used as an escape board for removing honey and as an entrance for top feeder.
- Top/Outer Cover - An outer cover will protect the bees from the harsh weather. A metal telescoping top will better protect the bees from the elements and will last longer.
- Queen Excluder - Available in plastic or metal. Used to allow workers to pass through but not the queen. Queen excluders can be placed in between the brood chamber body and honey super body to keep the queen from laying eggs in the honey you will extract.
- Frames and Foundations - A super can hold ten frames and foundations in each box. An empty frame is made of wood (think of a window frame) the foundation is made of beeswax (similar to the glass pane in the frame.) These two items create the finished frame that hangs in the hive. Standard wood frames have to be assembled and then have the foundation wired to the frame. This is where the bees will build honeycomb to store honey and pollen, and where the queen will lay her eggs.
- Pre-Assembled Frames and Foundations Combination - The ultimate convenience; a frame and foundation in one unit. GloryBee sells the popular pre-waxed plastic frame and foundation called Pierco. No assembly required.
- Painting The Hive - Use a Latex waterbased paint. Use two coats and paint all the exterior surfaces. Never paint the inside of the hive. Avoid dark colors because they will make the hive too hot in the summer.
- Bee Smoker - A smoker is a near necessity in handling bees. This smoking causes bees to rush to the cells of nectar and honey and gorge themselves. This results in them becoming less apt to sting. Materials used for smoker fuel can be burlap, dry leaves, pine needles or cotton. Make sure the smoke is cool, If it feels fine on your hand it is cool enough. (You don't want the singe the bee's wings!) Puff smoke first at the entrance and secondly as you are lifting the hive cover with a few puffs now and then. Always stand to the rear of the hive. Move quickly, but not with jerky movements and never swat at bees.
- Bee Veil - Always wear a veil when visiting your bees. Bees love to explore and your ears, mouth and nose are very tempting. Your head is very sensitive and a sting can cause more intense swelling than when stung in a fleshier part of the body.
- Bee Gloves - Thick long gloves will protect your hands.
- Hive Tool - A hive tool is a necessity in handling bees. Used in removing the cover, cleaning off burr comb, propolis etc. It is especially helpful in removing frames.
- Bee Brush - Use your bee brush to gently remove bees from undesired areas.
- Frame Grip - A frame grip allows you to get a better grip on the frame.
- Clothing - Wear light colored clothing so that the bees don't mistake you for a bear or other predator. Avoid wool or other materials of animal origin. Shop our jackets and suits for items with built in veils.
- Hours - Work bees when they are flying, as bees are easiest to handle when they are busy.
Feeders are necessary when the following conditions apply:
- Feeding medicine in liquid form
- Winter and Spring Feeding
- Starting with or bringing in Packaged Bees
- Bringing in a Swarm
Types of Bee Feeders
*Never feed bees liquid in a dish because they can drown.