What is a bee hive
A beehive is an enclosed structure in which honey bees live and raise their young. This could be a hollow tree trunk, inside a wall cavity and if you are really unlucky as a house owner, in your loft.
As a beekeeper you need to keep your bees in a structure that gives them the ideal environment to live and also give you, the beekeeper, the ideal structure that gives you easy access to manage your bees.
There are many different types of bee hives that can be purchased, some more popular than others and some dependent on where you are in the world.
British National Hive
This is an excellent hive for all bee keepers as it is a reasonable size, easy to manage and transport.
Being a popular type of hive there is a good supply of parts. Usually, made from wood although, polystyrene hives are coming onto the market now. The hive is made up of boxes, the minimum consisting of a brood box, a super box, a bottom and a roof. A hive can be bought in kit form for self-assembly. If you are a bit of a DIY enthusiast you can even build a hive from scratch.
This hive is considered to be one of the most popular of hives throughout the world. Similar to the British National. It is made up of a brood box, a medium box and a super and finished off with a floor and roof. With this type of hive some beekeepers use the same size box for all tiers so that they can move the frames around within the hive instead of having them static in just a single box.
The WBC hive is named after its inventor William Broughton Carr and is a double-skinned hive. It is a design that most people would recognize as a wooden beehive. It has a pitched roof, short legs and multiple boxes with sloping sides. The WBC uses the British Standard brood frame and they are interchangeable with the frames of the more common British National.
A Warre hive (pronounced war-ray) is simple to manage and maintain. It is also known as a tiered or supered top bar hive. This type of hive is very bee friendly as they are allowed to draw their own comb. The hive also mimics how bees would live in the wild by allowing them to keep building their comb and moving the brood nest downwards storing the honey behind them. This is called under supering or nadired which entails adding the new boxes to the bottom of the hive and not the top. You will find that this type of hive is used by beekeepers who want to pursue natural beekeeping. the hive is simple to build, easy to use and is cheaper to buy than a standard ten frame hive.
The top-bar hive is essentially a trough with bars placed along the top of the hive cavity for the bees to build their comb on. Building comb this way the bees follow a natural hang so it is wider at the top and tapering down to the bottom. A similar shape to that of a droplet of water hanging on a thread. The advantage of using this type of hive is there is no heavy lifting of boxes. I can assure you that a super as used in a British National hive full of honey can be as heavy as 40 pounds when full and if you have a few to lug around a hive inspection can get quite tiring. With the combs laid out horizontally it makes for quicker inspections.
Long Box Hive
Similar to the Top Bar hive in the way you manage your bees but it has straight instead of sloping sides. I have had no experience of long hives which is why I cannot say too much about them. Please leave me a comment if you can give me any further information about this type of hive.
Dartington Long Deep Hive
This is another long hive I have never seen or have any experience of. Again, please leave me a comment if you can give me any further information about this type of hive.
A Perone hive is essentially a top-bar hive stood up on its end. The frames are inserted into the hive like drawers. The hive is more often used by beekeepers following the natural path as it is divided into two parts, the bees part (botttom) and the beekeeps part (top). The idea is that the bees part is never touched and you leave the ladies to get on with it. The top half is the beekeepers but is only harvested once a year for the honey. There is an argument that as the bottom part is never checked the hive could be prone to disease, but having read research papers regarding the bees natural control of the varroa mite I would think that this type of hive would allow the bees to control the mite more efficiently as they would be able to sustain a greater heat in the hive with it not being disturbed. Any thoughts on this, please leave a comment.
The Sun Hive is one of the most remarkable hives ever invented by man and is designed to be installed at a height of at least 2.5 metres (8 feet) above the ground. This is the bees natural height for nesting, not on the ground. It is only man that has brought bees down to earth and put them in wooden boxes just for our own convenience for looking after the bees and harvesting the honey instead of having to climb into trees to do it. The hive is made from a combination of skep baskets woven from rye straw and supported by a wooden structure. the shape of the hive allows the bees to build there comb in a more natural shape which harmonizes with the bees.