Anatomy of a Beehive
The beehive provides a safe and protective home for honeybees.
The current, or modern, beehive is usually rectangular in shape, like a slightly elongated box. It is made up of boxes, frames and other accessories. There are different models and even shapes, but we are focusing on this one today.
Not only does the beehive act as a safe place for honeybees, where they can raise their baby bees, make their honey and tend to their queen, but it allows the beekeeper to access their home and their honey.
This allows a beekeeper to keep the bee colony healthy and productive for years to come.
This 3:05-minute video by VideoJug shows you how to build your own beehive:
The bottom board is where it all begins and acts like the foundation of a house. The beehive is built on this layer, which acts as the ground floor of the bee residence. There is a single entrance at the bottom board which the worker bees use to enter and exit. This entrance can be quite small initially, but once your bees get comfortable in their new home you can widen it. Keeping it down to just one entrance is the best way for bees to defend their hive and keep predators of all sorts outside.
There are two main types of bottom boards and when choosing the beekeeper should consider the local climate. Solid boards are better insulated and therefore a better option for cold winter weather. Screened boards are ideal for summer because they allow for improved ventilation. Another advantage of screened boards is that they make for better and easier pest control, especially if varroa mites are present. They will fall through the holes in the screen and out of the hive.
The super is also called a brood box, and makes up the main structure of the beehive. Busy bees are worker bees, and they do most of their work in the supers. Each and every hive has at least one deep super and this is where the queen bee and her brood can be found. This is also where the colony stores most of its honey.
It is always to a beekeeper’s advantage to get familiar with the colony’s brood nest, which is where you find the young in their three different stages—egg, larval, and pupal. This way, it is much easier for you to quickly assess the health of the hive’s brood when you check the hive and have an accurate idea of what is going on with your bees.
There is also usually one shallow honey super. Above the deep super is the honey super, which is where extra honey is stored, and this is also where beekeepers can take their harvest.
Hive frames hang vertically in the hive. Supers hold several hive frames each, usually around 7-8 per super. The frames are where all the action is, they create a safe space for honey bees to house the brood, build honeycomb and store honey.
The hive base was the bottom board, followed by several supers stacked and holding frames. Now we get to the top of the beehive. The queen excluder sits on top of the brood chamber. There are inner and outer covers with multiple purposes. Some beekeepers don't use an inner cover or crown board, but they all use the outer cover which is the roof of the beehive.
Using an inner cover improves ventilation and creates extra workspace in the hive. The biggest plus is that covers protect the bees inside from predators, pests, and the elements. Just know that your honeybees will cover the inner cover with wax and propolis, just like they do with all other surfaces in the hive. This might be a bit of an inconvenience when you are inspecting your hives. But it is what makes a beehive feel like home to tens of thousands of bees.
Happy beekeeping! :)
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