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Which Hive?

Which Hive?

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 movable frame 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.

They are:
National, National 14 x 12, WBC, Commercial

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 these hives are top bee space but there are regional differences, for example the British Buckfast Dadant is bottom bee space.

These pages also describe some newer types of hive which are based on the National 14 x 12 frame. They are: Dartington Long Deep Hive and the Omlet Beehaus. 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, ISBN: 978-1-904846-52-9.

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.

The Flow hive is a recent invention whereby honey can be extracted from the specially designed supers directly into jars. No hassle for the beekeeper and no disturbance to the bees.

The Rose hive and Rose method of beekeeping are also of recent origin. The system uses only one size box and is sometimes referred to as an OSB hive. Read the page to find out the advantages and disadvantages of this hive system.

Click on the highlighted links above or the ‘More hives’ button below to find out more about each type of hive.