Modern beekeeping would not be possible without the magnificent beehive. Each part works to keep honey bees safe and productive while also giving beekeepers access to the colony and their golden honey. When looking over the different parts of a beehive, it’s easy to lose oneself in the jumble of boxes, frames, and accessories. When you know what each piece does, however, you can keep your hive and the colony healthy and successful for years to come. Learn your way around a beehive with this rundown.
The hive starts with a bottom board. Consider this the first floor of your honey bees’ home. Worker bees exit and enter through an entrance at the bottom board. This singular entrance makes it easier for your bees to defend the hive from predators. When it comes to bottom boards, beekeepers can choose between two main types: solid boards and screened boards. The solid board offers better insulation, making it ideal for cold winter months. A screened board allows for better ventilation, which is perfect for summer. Screened boards also make pest control easier, particularly in the case of varroa mites, which will fall through the screen and out of the hive.
The supers make up the body of the beehive. Most of a honey bee’s work takes place within the various supers. Every hive has at least one deep super and one shallow honey super. The deep super holds the queen and her brood. It’s also where the hive stores its supply of honey. It’s important to learn your way around the brood nest so that you can quickly and accurately check the health of your hive’s brood. Above the deep super is the honey super, which is where the colony stores excess honey and beekeepers take their harvest. Both supers hold several hive frames. These frames hang vertically in the hive and create a room for honey bees to build comb, store honey, and house the brood safely.
At the top of all these different parts of a beehive are the inner and outer covers. These covers protect the hive from pests, predators, and the elements. Some beekeepers use both an inner and an outer cover, while others stick to just an outer one. Inner covers are particularly useful when you want extra working space and ventilation in your hives. Just keep in mind that your honey bees will treat the inner cover like any other part of the hive, covering it in wax and propolis, which will add to the challenge of your hive inspections.