Mother Earth NewsLangstroth, Top-Bar or Warre?: Choose the Right Hive for You and Your BeesMother Earth News
If you’re interested in beekeeping but are debating which type of hive to choose or if you’re already a beekeeper and are wondering about different types of hives then read on. Here I’ll talk briefly about the three different types of hives I use and discuss some basic pros and cons. Let’s start with the the best known and most popular.
Pros and Cons of the Langstroth Beehive
So, chances are if you’ve ever driven by a house or piece of land and seen beehives, you were looking at a langstroth hive. These are the standard hives used in the United States and most developed countries. Imagine a wooden rectangle with wood frames that slide in vertically and rest in place on a top lip like a file folder. Inside the frame is a thin layer of wax foundation printed with a hexagonal pattern that the bees will use to draw out their comb. There is a removable top cover, a bottom board upon which the hive rests and a narrow entrance or slit between the bottom board and the hive body from which the bees come and go. To add room for an expanding colony or for honey stores you add a super (basically another hive body, frames and all but shorter in height) directly on top of the hive body, then replace the cover on top of the super.
What is a Langstroth hive and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Some progress on my long Langstroth hive. I’ll be screening the bottom and having multiple inner covers on top of the frames, as well as a hinged lid. I’ll also have a frame holder built on to one side, one that’s big enough to hold a couple of frames at least.
In 1851, Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth invented a better beehive and changed beekeeping forever. The Langstroth Hive didn’t spring fully formed from one man’s imagination, but was built on a foundation of methods and designs developed over millenia.
Beekeeping dates back at least to ancient Egypt, when early apiarists built their hives from straw and clay (if you happen to find a honeypot in a tomb, feel free to stick your hand in it, you rascal, because honey lasts longer than a mummy). In the intervening centuries, various types of artificial hives developed, from straw baskets to wood boxes but they all shared one thing: “fixed combs” that must be physically cut from the hive. These early fixed comb hives made it difficult for beekeepers to inspect their brood for diseases or other problems.
In the 18th century, noted Swiss naturalist François Huber developed a “movable comb” or “movable frame” hive that featured wooded leaves filled with honeycombs that could be flipped like the pages of a book. Despite this innovation, Huber’s hive was not widely adopted and simple box hives remained the popular choice for beekeepers until the 1850s. Enter Lorenzo Langstroth.