A bee’s hive is her castle. The hive protects the colony from the elements, provides a space for them to lay and raise the brood, and allows them to store plenty of honey to feed on. Beekeepers use many different hive designs to house their honey bees, but all hives have a few components in common. Here’s our guide to the different parts of a beehive.
Let’s start at the bottom. The bottom board acts as a floor for the beehive. The hive entrance is also located here. There are a few types of bottom boards. A screened bottom board aids in ventilating the hive and keeping the bees from overheating in the summer, while solid boards insulate the hive in colder climates.
On top of the foundation is the body of the hive, or the supers. The supers are where the colony can live, work, and store their food. Of all the different parts of a beehive, these are the most important. First is the deep super, or brood box. This is where the queen lives and lays her eggs. This space also doubles as storage for the colony’s food supply. Some hives consist of two deep supers: one for the brood and one for the food. Above the deep supers is the honey super, where the bees store excess honey. These honey supers are where beekeepers get their share of the honey.
Each super contains beehive frames that allow beekeepers to inspect the interior of the hive. Many hives use removable frames, which make managing the beehive even easier. These frames hang vertically and offer a space for the bees to build their honeycomb, store food, and house the brood. This means the frames can get pretty heavy, which is why honey supers and their frames are usually smaller than the deep supers where the colony resides.
Two covers top off the beehive. The first is an inner cover, which provides extra room and ventilation at the top of the hive. This inner cover might also have a hole cut into the center so that you can place a top feeder on the hive. The honey bees will glue down this inner cover as part of the hive, which means they won’t touch the top cover above. This top cover is the final piece of your hive. It acts like a roof, protecting the hive and its residents from the elements.
Once you have your basic, functioning beehive, you can add other equipment, designs, or upgrades to make it more easily accessible or aesthetically pleasing. Whether you’re building your first beehive or making more room for your seasoned, successful colony, Kelley Beekeeping has the supplies you need to make a safe and happy home for your honey bees.