What kind of hive?
July 29, 2020
This is another frequent question I see when new bee keepers begin to research bees and how to get started. There are quite a few options out there, Warre, Top Bar, Long Langstroth, Langstroth, and others. Once you get basic beekeeping down I encourage you to experiment with the types of hives that interest you but, with one exception, I always recommend starting with the traditional Langstroth hive. That one exception is that you already have a mentor that is going to work with you for your first year, at least, to teach you how to properly manage your hive.
Why do I choose the Langstroth, simple it’s the most common hive configuration and when you are asking questions or trying to get assistance you will get more responses if you have the same type of hive that most others do. There are folks that manage multiple hive types well, but they probably started with one type first and got the bees figured out then started worrying about hives. Once you have mastered bee management (if it can be mastered) then it’s time to explore.
Once you decide on the traditional Langstroth hive there are a few other choices to make. The one thing I wish I had done differently when first starting was to decide on a medium box size for all boxes. A lot of folks will tell you that you need two deep’s for your brood chamber and then mediums for honey supers. That’s fine as long as you never need to move frames around for any reason, which is something I do all of the time. Another reason is weight of a full box, deeps can weigh around 90 pounds or more when full of honey moving that around is not always fun, there are other options like moving one frame at a time but then that slows you down when your in a hurry.
Another thing to consider is what type of foundation are you going to use in your frames. Again for ease of use and proven performance go with what most of the experts use for honey supers and that is plastic foundation. It is not always easy to get bees to draw on this stuff but once they do it will last a long time and is some of the easiest extract honey from because it will not blow out. Again there are exceptions to every “rule” but this is just what I recommend as a general practice. I personally use a lot of foundationless in my brood chambers and when I want comb honey. But do that after everything else is settled in.
For your first year you want to be able to concentrate on raising healthy productive bees not figuring out a “new” type of hive.