Learn How to Become a Beekeeper (PART 1 OF 5)

BEGIN BEEKEEPING

(PART 1 OF 5)

 

Welcome the amazing world of honey bees! When your journey into beekeeping first begins it is vital to know the decisions you will have to make to get started. Historically, new beekeepers did not have many choices to make. Modern-day beekeepers have many!

 

What type of hive will you house your bees?

How will you get bees to put in your hive?

Will you use chemicals in your hive or will you keep your bees chemical free?

What additional equipment do you need or want to get started?

How much protective gear is right for you?

 

We will begin by learning about the different hive designs’ pros and cons.

 

Langstroth 10 frame or 8 frame Hive

A TRADITIONAL STACKED HIVE THAT GROWS VERTICALLY

PROS

CLASSIC Invented by Rev. Lorenzo

Langstroth, this hive design revolutionized

beekeeping and made modern

methods of beekeeping possible.

Langstroth’s key insight was the notion

of “bee space,” providing wooden

frames and combs spaced precisely the

correct distance apart so that honey

bees will not build more comb between

them. This makes the frames “moveable.”

The corollary is that frames and other

equipment built to these dimensions are

also interchangeable.

MODULAR Langstroth hives also offer

the advantage of simple vertical

expansion or contraction by the addition

or subtraction of standard-sized boxes

and frames.

VERSATILE & CONVENTIONAL

Langstroth hive equipment is

ubiquitous, meaning you can easily

find compatible equipment for

honey extraction, pollen harvesting,

hive moving and other colony

manipulation. If you want to resell

your equipment or colonies,

they will likely have more value on

the open market if contained

in Langstroth equipment.

 

CONS

VERTICAL MANAGEMENT

Langstroth hives were designed

to hold large colonies and lots of honey –

consequently, they can be heavy

and may require physical strength to

manage and harvest honey supers.

Supers are the boxes that hold the frames

of honey, bees and brood in a hive.

Each super can weigh from 20 – 75 pounds,

depending on size, and whether or

not it is full of honey. If you are concerned

about having to move heavy boxes

of honey off the top of your hive, then

a Langstroth hive may not be for you.

On the other hand, you have the option

of harvesting one comb at a time, thus

reducing the burden. Placing the hive

on a stand facilitates accessibility if

bending or stooping is difficult for you.

 

Top Bar Hive

A HORIZONTAL HIVE WITH BARS, NO FRAMES

PROS

NATURAL COMB BUILDING

Top bar hives require bees to build

their comb from scratch in whatever

configuration they choose. Seeing

newly fabricated comb hanging from

the top bars can be fascinating!

NO MUSCLES REQUIRED There are

no supers to lift with top bar hives, and

you will work and harvest honey one top

bar at a time.

EASY ON THE BACK Because top bar

hives can be worked standing up, at

waist height and without bending over,

they may be a better choice if your back

prevents you from lifting or bending.

 

CONS

TIME-INTENSIVE Because top bar

hives require constant intervention to

enforce comb building on only one top

bar and eliminate comb attachments to

sides, this option will demand more of

your time.

DIFFICULT TO MOVE AND INSPECT

Combs built on top bars have no

reinforcement or wooden frame to

facilitate manipulation, movement

and inspection. One can inadvertently

cause the comb to become detached

from the top bar (especially on a hot

summer day), and it is very difficult to

inspect for embryos, larvae, queen or

disease. Moving a top bar hive can

cause the combs to fall off the top bar.

ATYPICAL Your bees will have to

work harder to heat and cool a top bar

hive because the space is difficult for

them to thermoregulate themselves.

PESTS Small hive beetles have more

hiding places in top bar hives.

 

 

Hybrid Hive

BEE WEAVER’S COMPROMISE

PROS

THE BEST FEATURES OF BOTH

LANGSTROTH AND TOP BAR

If you want the features of a top bar hive,

but the management advantages and

honey production potential of a Langstroth

hive, then the hybrid is for you.

BEE OPTIONS You can start a hybrid

hive with a nuc or a package, or

by installing an established colony.

HARVEST OPTIONS Add honey

supers to the Langstroth portion and

extract honey from frames using typical

extraction equipment, or pull top bars

from the top bar portion to enable easy

comb or chunk honey harvesting.

BUILT-IN HIVE STAND The hybrid

hive is elevated on removable legs,

to ease back strain and put both top bar

and Langstroth brood chambers at

waist height.

 

CONS

EXPENSIVE Bringing the two hives

together increases the initial cost of

buying a hive to begin beekeeping.

DIFFICULT TRANSITION

Sometimes the bees have a hard time

transitioning between the two hives.

Initially, special beekeeping practices

may be needed

 

There are several other hive types that may interest you. Warre hives, garden hives, and even indoor observation hives. We suggest trying one of the more conventional hives initially before working with a more challenging system. For more information and support go to our BeeFilm. Next time we will explore the different kinds of bees, how bees are packaged for transport, and what you will need to move bees into your new hive.