We spent this past month building beehives, so we thought we'd dedicate this blog post to explaining the parts of the hive - starting from the bottom up.
This is a Langstroth beehive. It was invented in 1852 and revolutionized beekeeping, thanks to its movable frames that allow beekeepers to inspect the hive and harvest honey. Other types of beehives also include topbar hives, Warre hives, the trendy Flow hive, and sun hives. Langstroth is the North American standard and we find it works best for us.
At the bottom of the hive is the bottom board, with the entrance to the beehive. On top of the bottom board, sit two deep hive bodies - wooden boxes with frames of comb where the queen lays eggs. This part of the beehive is called the 'brood chamber' or 'brood box' - where brood rearing takes place. 'Brood' is the term for bee larva.
During the season, we add 'supers' on top of the brood chamber. 'Supers' are wooden boxes with frames of comb where the bees store honey.
We place a 'queen excluder' between the brood chamber and the supers. The queen excluder is a plastic or metal grate - the worker bees are small enough to crawl through it but the queen is too big. This keeps the queen from laying eggs in the honey supers.
The deep hive bodies and the supers each contain 10 moveable frames of comb. The frames each contain a sheet of foundation. Technically the bees don't need foundation to build comb (they are master architects) but it helps ensure that the bees build straight comb and serves as extra reinforcement during the honey harvest.
On top, the hive has an inner cover and an outer cover. The inner cover keeps the hive tightly closed on top and the outer cover serves as extra protection against the weather.
That's the anatomy of the beehive. Next month's newsletter will be focused on the first spring beehive inspection and early spring care. We can't wait!!!