Bee equipment

Beekeeping hives

The beekeeping hives are the most important equipment in an apiary. There are several types of hives, each having their advantages and disadvantages. In the following lines you will find a short description of several types of hives that are used by beekeepers around the world.

Types of bee hives

Langstroth bee hives

These are the creation of Lorenzo Langstroth, a famous 19th century beekeeper. Langstroth's hives are largely used by beekeepers around the world, especially by those who are or intend to be honey producers. They are advantageous because they provide a lot of space for the bees and the frames are not glued one to another. They are usually rectangular and made of wood, especially fir tree wood. These have has the following parts: bottom board, foundation, 10 frames made of wood or other material, one or more hive bodies open on top and bottom and which can be put one on top of the other, an inner cover and a telescoping cover. There are beekeepers who provide these hives with a queen excluder.

Top-Bar hives

These are the cheap alternative of the Langstroth hives. Besides the price which is affordable to almost anyone they provide the advantage of space and movable frames. The uniqueness of this hive consists in its frames who have a top bar but not side or bottom bar. However, the main disadvantage is that the bees housed in this type of hive produce less honey. These hives are placed in a horizontal position, having the honey honeycombs at the front and the bee brood combs behind them.

Warre bee hives

These hives were designed by Abbe Emil Warre. They are not very different from the Langstroth hives. They have several boxes which are put one on top of the other. If more space is needed, the only thing to do is to place a new box under the old ones. Its uniqueness is given by the angled roof.

The Dadant bee hive

Beekeeper Moving Hive
In the past this hive had 10 frames whose sizes were 18-1/2 by 11/1/4 inches. Therefore, it had the same storage capacity of a 12 frames Langstroth hive. In the early 20th century its designed was modified, so nowadays the Dadant hives usually have 11 frames. Honey producers prefer this type of hive. However, it is very heavy, especially when filled with honey. The WBC bee hive AS its names suggests this hive is the creation of William Broughton Carr. This hive has double walls that provide coolness in summer and warmth in winter. It is very difficult to move them from one place to another, plus not all beekeepers can build them since they are very complex in design.

How to buy new beekeeping hives

The bee hives must be made of qualitative timber, well dried and without roughs. They have to be well glued and finished. Although, fashionable the polystyrene hives are not recommended since they are not proper for bio apiculture. Do not pay cheap hives. Look for the nails. They are necessary if you want to have a stable hive. It is better to buy plain hives so as to be able to spot the possible defects. Ask the producer any question you have.

Bee hives frames

The frames must be made out of qualitative and well dried wood; either timber or lime tree wood. They must have the standard dimensions. They have to be well finished; otherwise, you will have lots of problems with their sanitation and cleaning. Do not buy frames that have mold stains on them because this is a sign that they have been made out of insufficiently dried wood.

Beekeeping costume

This must have a very high quality since it has to assure full protection for the beekeeper. It is better to avoid masks that have metal net or dark colored costumes. Some old beekeepers might tell you that you do not need a beekeeper's costume. Do not listen to them. No matter how gentle a colony is, you can still get stung. It is a shame to wear such a costume.

The smoker

There are several types of smoker but whichever you buy is good as long as it has the following characteristics: it is well built, does not produce too much smoke, it assure the right amount of air and it is easy to handle. There are large and small smokers. They are usually made of stainless steel, copper or tin plated steel. The stainless steel smoker is the best choice but unfortunately is the most expensive.

The bee brush

You can use a brush made of natural hair or of synthetic hair. Either is good, as long as it is soft and cannot harm or kill the bees.

The beekeeping tool

They are used when removing the frames from the hive. There are several types but the most important thing is to buy a top quality one. It is advisable to avoid the ones that are too sharp because they might harm the honey bees.

The beekeeper's stool

This is a very useful tool. It has to be made out of qualitative wood and have an ergonomic design. It can also be used as a storage space for the beekeeping equipment.

The Queen excluder

It is used to keep the queen out of way especially during harvesting time. Those made of wood must be well finished. The nest must have standardized loops.

Uncapping fork/knife

Those made of stainless steel are the best, since they can be easily disinfected and do not leave any kind of waste in the honey. Classical models are the best and easiest to handle. There are also electrical uncapping knives and forks, but you must pay attention when working with them, since you might burn yourself.

Uncapping board

This tool has to be made out of stainless steel. Those made of galvanized sheet are no longer accepted because honey can be contaminated by zinc.

The honey extractor

This is probably one of the most expensive beekeeping tools. It has to be made out of stainless steel. No other material is accepted. There are two types of extractors: the tangential one and the radial one. The extractor is in fact a centrifuge that can be operated either manually or electrically (the electrical version is much more expensive). The frames are held by a cage located in the interior part of the drum. The cage is spun round and round and thus the honey comes out of the combs. The honey is gathered in a container located at the bottom part of the extractor. The tangential extractor has place for four honeycombs.

The radial extractor is wider spread although it has a higher price. The frames do not need to be uncapped with this extractor. Moreover, they are placed inside it in a radial manner. There are fewer chances to damaging the honeycombs with this tool; therefore lots of beekeepers prefer it to the tangential one.

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