Did you know that there are three different types of beehive used around the world? If you are having trouble choosing which type of beehive is the best for you, here’s some of the pros and cons of each one.
This type of beehive was designed by Lorenzo Langstroth during the 1850’s and is now the widely used, industry standard for modern beekeeping around the world. This is due to its interchangeable parts and the ease of its transportation for beekeepers.
It is essentially a vertical system that consists of open, rectangular boxes, with installed frames that rest inside the boxes. The frames feature wider sides, with ⅜” that allows bees to walk on the surface of each neighbouring frames back to back.
The Langstroth parts come in many varieties, such as box depths (WSP, full depth and ideal) and widths (8 frame and 10 frame). Due to its varieties, beekeepers are able to customise parts according to their beekeeping style and what works best for them.
- There are many options available on management practices. For example, you have a variety of options in foundations, whether you want none, plastic or wax.
- Easier to find solutions for a specific problem
- Honey harvesting and extraction is so much easier
- Accessories are available for pest control, harvest and expansion
- Easier for new beekeepers to get started with. The availability of beekeeping books, video tutorials and websites dedicated to Langstroth beehives. Most beekeeping clubs also consist of Langstroth beekeepers so it’s easy to find a mentor!
- It is very invasive for the bees. If you would like to inspect, you would have to take down the boxes, take out the frames and heavily disturb the bees.
- It is heavy weight. Honey and honeycomb can be really heavy, which can put a strain on your back. A full depth box can easily weigh up to 40kgs!
Top Bar Beehive (TBH):
The top bar beehive is the oldest known type of beehive, having existed for over a hundred years! There are two main styles of top bar hives: the Kenyan top bar and the Tanzanian top bar. The Kenyan top bar hive has an angled, long side that gives it a trapezoid hive shape, while the Tanzanian has straight sides with 90 degree angles.
Unlike the Langstroth, the top bar hive is a horizontal system with top bars instead of frames that allows the bees to build their combs naturally.
- No heavy lifting required, perfect for those who are physically restricted.
- Less invasive for bees
- Easier to avoid accidentally crushing the bees – due to the top bar feature instead of frames
- Requires less materials
- Simpler to build
- Perfect for the natural beekeeper
- As this design is not standardised, it will require custom building for a few accessories such as a feeders, beetle traps, entrance reducers, etc.
- Honey harvest is significantly less than a Langstroth
- One method of extracting honey and can be challenging for a beginner
The Warre beehive was designed by Emile Warre, a French Monk, in the early 20th century. Warre aimed to design a beehive that closely resembles how wild honey bee colonies are built and operate, as if it was on a tree trunk.
Similar to the Langstroth, the Warre beehive is a vertical system but features top bars instead of frames. It is essentially a combination of both Langstroth and Top Bar. Additionally, it uses a square box rather than a rectangular box.
The main difference in this beehive is that when you are expanding, you do so by adding the new box at the bottom of the beehive. Since the bees generally build from the top to bottom, Warre thought that this was a more natural way in expanding the beehive.
- Low maintenance
- Interchangeable parts
- Less frequent inspections
- Easy to build
- Perfect for the natural beekeepers
- Requires heavy lifting
- Less extracted honey
- Standardised but not as common as the Langstroth, hence it will be harder to find a mentor, beekeeping clubs/associations and tutorials
- Requires a storage space for empty extra boxes
What type of beehive is for you?
This comes back to what your goals are in beekeeping. Before starting, research each type carefully and assess if it aligns to your lifestyle. If possible, it’s best to find an opportunity to get a hands-on experience on the type that you are particularly interested in.
We find that if you are beekeeping to produce honey, the Langstroth is your best type. You gain more honey yields with Langstroth compared to the Warre and Top Bar. On the other hand, if you are beekeeping for pollination or just to take care of bees, the Warre and Top Bar are perfect options for you. This way you allow the bees to operate naturally with less intervention.
Ask yourself, why would you like to start beekeeping? Beekeeping has so many aspects to it and each beekeeper finds different activities enjoyable. It’ll be best if you find what part of beekeeping peaks your interest the most and go from there!
Interested in buying beekeeping tools and equipment in bulk and discounted price? For personalised advice on products and tips for beehive management, give us a call on 0488 010 840 or get in touch via email at [email protected]. Shop online here (free shipping for orders over $300)!