Beekeeper’s Corner – Parts of the Hive

By Mike Gebert –

Welcome back, This is the third installment of the series.  By now you have an overview of beekeeping, and have some basic knowledge on what goes into beekeeping .  This article is going to focus on equipment.  There are many setups/configurations to hives but all hives have four basic parts.  The parts that are needed are the bottom board, deep (brood area), a super and an outer cover.  Now depending on the region where you live you may need other equipment.  Other hive components are inner cover, hive stand and the queen excluder.  See Figure 1 below:


Most of the components shown above are self-explanatory, but as I have stated in the other articles you have many options on setting up your hive.  There is no right or wrong setup each has its positives and negatives, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different setups.  So you confused yet??  Have no fear I will explain what each part does.

The Hive Stand – equipment that the bottom board sits on which makes up the base of your hive.  This piece of equipment is one of the optional items you can have but is not mandatory.  The hive stand allows bees to land at the base of the hive and walk into to the hive and deposit the nectar or pollen.

Bottom board–  This piece of equipment is mandatory as it makes the bottom of the hive.  To make things harder the bottom board can be either solid or screened.  There are arguments on each side which is better, the choice is yours.  Get one of each and see which works better for you.

Brood chamber–  This is the area the queen will lay her eggs and houses the nurse and guard bees.  A standard brood chamber is made up of a Deep ( a box that measures 9 5/8 deep).  However, depending on your age, upper body strength and other factors you can use a honey super or medium super box for the brood chamber.  The downside you will have to use 2 mediums/super boxes to make take the place of one deep.  On the other hand the mediums/supers are much lighter to lift.

Queen Excluder– This prevents the queen from leaving the brood area into your honey super stores.

Honey Super– This is the second interchangeable part of the beehive.  In a standard hive, the honey super consists of a box that is 5 11/16 deep; however, you can interchange this section with a medium honey box (box that measures  6 5/8 deep) or a deep box  as mentioned above.  The choice is yours once again.

Inner Cover–  This piece of equipment is not mandatory but depending on where you live  this might be needed.  In South Florida for example, most people do not use it, but beekeepers in the North do.  This piece of equipment also allows you to have a upper hive entrance as an alternate area for bees to enter the hive and in the winter can help with moisture accumulation.

Outer Cover– This covers your beehive.

Frames–  This piece of equipment is housed in both the brood box and honey supers.  There are either 8 or 10 frames boxes, depending on the setup you decide on.  The main difference between the 8 frame and 10 frame is weight and width.  Just remember which ever size you decide on the 8 frame box will not work on a 10 frame box and vise versa.  So if you start out with an 8 frame beehive, all components for that hive will have to be 8 frame.

Lastly, we will cover where do you get the hive components?  If you joined your local beekeeper club, most have venders that come to their meetings.  If you have not joined the local beekeeper club, there are many advertisements in the two main national beekeeping magazines:  Bee Culture and American Beekeeping.  Still have not subscribed??? In my opinion there are four large companies that sell beekeeping supplies in no order Mannlake, Dadant, Brushymountain and Kelly’s Bees.  A Google search for beekeeping supply companies will turn up more and give you the web addresses to the ones above.

Well, this closes out this edition of beekeepers corner.  As always if you have any questions please feel free to email me.  Remember… everything tastes better with honey!


About Mike Gebert

The resident Everything Country beekeeper, Mike turns this Nectar of the Gods into everything from organic honey, candles and other products and provides How-To articles and videos for aspiring beekeepers.