There is a bewildering selection of hive types to choose from. How do you decide which one is right for you, especially if you are a Beginner?
In the East Devon area there are mainly four types of hive in use by hobbyist beekeepers, and as you are more likely to obtain bees on frames from one of them we will consider these four types.
There are a few beekeepers in the East Devon area who have moved away from the complexity of the National hive construction but who still wish to retain the same brood area as a National. The Smith hive fulfils these criteria.
The Langstroth, Jumbo Langstroth and the Dadant hives are of North American origin and have been through a number of changes and modifications since their inception in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. They now use frames of the same width and the Jumbo Langstroth frame will fit a Dadant brood chamber but the hive cross sections are different and Dadant hives often have wider brood frame spacing. The majority of hives are top bee space but there are regional differences, for example the Buckfast Dadant is bottom bee space.
These pages describe some newer types of hive which are based on the National 14 x 12 frame.
These hives have been designed for a variety of reasons which are outlined in the text. They are also made with modern materials unlike traditional wooden hives.
Top bar hives take many forms and their origins date back hundreds of years. The Warré hive is a top bar hive, usually referred to as ‘The People’s Hive’ in France where it was designed by Abbé Émile Warré (1867 – 1951) and described in his book Beekeeping for All.
As the hive does not use conventional frames like the other hives described so far the calculation of the number of cells available for brood in each hive box is approximate.
The original Kenyan top bar hive was introduced by the ‘Bees for Development’ programme and designed to be easily constructed with cheap local materials by beekeepers in Kenya and other African countries.
Traditional Long Hives are represented here by the Leyens Hive, introduced by George de Leyens and described in his 1897 book ‘Keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives’. It uses large frames all on one level, similar to the Dartington and Beehaus hives, but differs in management techniques. The hive is enjoying a revival in the USA and Spain.
Click on the sub-page links at top or bottom of this page to find out more about each type of hive.