Bee Hive Plans Review, Information, Variables, And More

Summer apiary with several bee hives in farm garden

The ideal bee hive plans will depend on several variables such as the amount of honey you want to harvest, your level of commitment (some designs require more frequent inspection than others) and climate and other environmental factors. Your level of physical fitness will also play a role when selecting hives. To put this into perspective, a deep super of Langstroth box full of honey can weigh up to 70 lbs., which you must be able to lift and move, while a top-bar hive is fitted with detachable frames, which you can lift one at a time.

There are three types of beehive plans: Langstroth, Warrè, and top-bar. Each design has its pros and cons and unique features that make them suitable for certain beekeepers.

Read on for the difference between the beehive designs along with their pros and cons. We have also provided product reviews for each type so you’ll know the features you should look for.

beehives and beekeeping

​​​Langstroth Bee Hive Plans

Langstroth hives are popular among both commercial and small hobbyist beekeepers because their parts are easy to find. They also allow for expansion. You can simply stack boxes on top of each other without divisions between them.

The bottom of the hive is a stand or base to protect it from water and cold. On top of it is the brood box (which has an entrance) where the queen lays eggs. The second box stacked on top of it is called the honey super where honey is stored. You can stack up more boxes if you want to expand your colony.

You can fit up to 10 frames in a Langstroth box, which comes in three different vertical heights: deep, medium and shallow. However, the rest of their dimensions are the same.

Their popularity stems from the fact they produce the most amount of honey. But due to the sheer weight of their boxes, their core design can pose a problem if you suffer from some physical restriction.

If you can’t do the heavy lifting but still insist on using Langstroth, stick to medium and shallow super boxes, which typically weigh around 50 lbs. and 40 lbs., respectively, when full of honey.


Two Notable Langstroth Products


Honey Keeper Beehive 20 Frame Complete Box Kit (10 Deep and 10 Medium) with Metal Roof for Langstroth Beekeeping

Honey Keeper Langstroth Beehive Kit with 20 Frames Bee Hive Plans

It comes with 10 deep frames and 10 medium size ones. The mainframes are made of white pine while their foundations, which have a hexagonally shaped surface, are made of plastic that is slippery so wax it before use.

The actual box measures 23" length by 18.25" width by 19" in height. It comes with an inner cover, a bottom board to protect the hive from cold and rot, a galvanized metal roof, a queen excluder and an entrance reducer.

How It Compares To Other Products

Its easy assembly and functional design make it popular among commercial and small hobbyists beekeepers alike. Other similar Langstroth products such as the Vivo Beehive Box Kit have trickier assembly—i.e., the boards may crack if you do not pre-drill holes before hammering in the nails.

The Honey Keeper Langstroth Beehive is also ideal for future expansion because it comes with the standard 10 frames. Meanwhile, boxes that only allow up to eight frames such as the Busy Bee’s-n-More Langstroth Beehive are less popular and thus finding parts can get tricky.

Another product that comes close to the Honey Keeper Langstroth Beehive in terms of quality build and price is the Busy Bee’s-n-More Langstroth Beehive. However, you can only fit eight frames, instead of the standard 10 frames, which makes expansion trickier.

Pros and Cons

The Honey Keeper Langstroth Beehive is a good starter kit with its easy assembly and functional design. However, you may want to wax the plastic foundations to prevent the comb from slipping, and also paint the exterior to prevent rot.

Conclusion

This is a well-made Langstroth hive that makes it popular among beekeepers who are looking for a reasonably priced product.


Flow Official Hive– Our Largest Wooden 7 Frame or 10 Langstroth Style Frame Bee Hive House- Patented Technology for Honey on Tap- Beginner & Expert Beekeepers - Free BEE Veil HAT Included

Flow Hive 7-10 Langstroth-Style Frame Bee Hive Plans

This Langstroth-style beehive allows for quick and simple honey harvesting: The hive frame is fitted with a flow key, which you can turn 90 degrees to allow the honey to flow through a spigot.

The Flow Hive is made of a sturdy red cedar wood, while its foundations are made of BPA-free, food-grade plastic to prevent tainting the quality of your honey.

How It Compares to Other Products

The Flow Hive costs 3-4 times more than the standard two-box Langstroth hives, making this unsuitable for commercial or large-scale beekeepers. But for anyone who suffers from some physical restrictions, its design is heaven-sent as it eliminates heavy lifting.

Pros and Cons

The Flow Hive’s innovative design makes it ideal for someone who wants to be a beekeeper but suffers from physical restriction. Also, during honey harvesting, the bees remain undisturbed on the surface of the comb.

The exorbitant price of the Flow Hive is one of its greatest drawbacks. Some professional beekeepers are concerned that novice users may assume that they do not have to perform regular inspections, or that they may over-harvest honey.

Conclusion

This pricey beehive product is ideal for beekeepers who have physical restrictions. If you can’t do the heavy lifting, you may also consider top-bar bee hive plans, which we explain below.


Top-Bar Bee Hive Plans

Top-Bar Bee Hive Plans

This hive design, which is not popular in North America and other cold climate regions, resembles a barrel sliced in half that is laid horizontally. It comes with a stand to protect it from rot and water.

Unlike Langstroth hives that allow expansion by simply stacking up additional boxes, the top-bar has a fixed capacity regarding the number of bars you can fit across the hive. Sometimes, the bars are fitted with a foundation of honeycomb to encourage the bees to build more comb below.

Top-bar hives are ideal if you can’t lift heavy boxes. During inspection and honey harvesting, you can remove one bar. This inherent design is also less disruptive for bees compared with Langstroth in which you occasionally have to carry an entire box.

However, honey extraction is difficult with top bar hives because you can’t use a honey extractor which is mainly created for Langstroth frames. Often, beekeepers have to crush the comb and strain it.

Also, the amount of honey you can harvest with top-bar hives is less compared to the Langstroth hives. Your bees can produce more beeswax, which you can turn into a myriad of products such as lotions, candles, lip balm, drawer and window lubrication, wood polish, and hair removal wax.


Two Notable Top-Bar Hive Products


Mann Lake Top Bar Bee Hive Plans Kit

Mann Lake Top Bar Bee Hive Plans Kit

This top bar hive is made of precision-milled pine wood and is fitted with 28 bars. It also comes with a corrugated roof for ventilation, a feeding port, and a follower board.

It measures 33.37″ height by 51.81″ length and by 30.87″ in width.

Price: Around $200

You can buy this on mannlakeltd.com.

How It Compares To Other Products

Compared with most top-bar hives sold online, this is a bargain particularly if you already have all the basic beekeeping tools. But if you’re just starting out, you may consider the Bee Built Top Bar Starter Kit ($649), which comes with a ventilated beekeeping jacket with round veil, gloves, smoker, beekeeping brush, hive tool, and 16 oz pure tung oil so you can coat the exterior to protect it from rot and water damage.

Pros and Cons

This reasonably priced top-bar hive is easy to assemble. As with any top-bar hives, it is ideal for beekeepers who want a more natural home for their bees and do not mind the reduced amount of honey they can harvest. Also, it does not require extra equipment such as foundations, extractors, cloak boards, supers, among others.

Meanwhile, the Mann Lake Top Bar Hive Kit comes untreated; this means you have to buy a tung oil or paint to protect its exterior from harsh weather and other elements.

Conclusion

The Mann Lake Top Bar Hive Kit is ideal for budget-conscious beekeepers who can’t do the heavy lifting.


Kelley Beekeeping Top Bar Hive (Model # 357)

Kelley Beekeeping Top Bar Hive (Model # 357)

This standardized top-bar unit comes with a follower board and 20 foundationless top bars so the bees will have more freedom on how they construct their comb (and ultimately the size of cells).

You can buy this on kelleybees.com.

How It Compares to Other Products

This is another reasonably priced top-bar hive that comes with functional design and easy assembly. But as with most hives sold online, coat the exterior with paint or tung oil to prevent rot and water damage.

Just like the Mann Lake Top Bar Hive Kit, this is also a bargain compared with other higher-end top-bar hives, which typically have access windows so you can inspect it without lifting a single bar.

Pros and Cons

Top-bar hives make queen rearing much easier compared to using Langstroth hives. On average, queens cost around $20.

To prevent rot, paint or coat the exterior of the Kelley Beekeeping Top Bar Hive. Also, you may want to purchase or create your own bars if you plan for expansion.

Conclusion

This top-bar hive is ideal for someone who prefers a more natural beekeeping approach.


Warrè Bee Hive Plans

This combines the best of top-bar and Langstroth hives; you can stack the boxes like Langstroth supers, and use top-bar frames to support the honeycomb,

Just like Langstroth, expansion is easy with Warrè hives because you can place a new box beneath the existing one (instead of on top).

And just like top-bar bee hive plans, Warrè hives are less common and usually more expensive than Langstroth.

Two Notable Warrè Hive Products

Bee Built Warrè Hive

Bee Built Warrè Hive

This is a two-box Warrè hive that comes with a shingled design roof, 16 top bars with wedge comb guides, window access for quick inspection, screened bottom with closable insert, and solid feet (although you still need to elevate it higher for easy inspection and harvesting).

It also comes with a bag of shredded cedar to fill the quilt box (for better insulation), and an extra canvas between the top bars and quilt box.

How It Compares to Other Products

The sturdy construction of Bee Built Warrè Hive justifies its relatively high price. This is made of a sustainably harvested wood (western red cedar, douglas fir, or sugar pine) that has pre-drilled holes and stainless steel screws for easy assembly and added strength.

Other products such as the Buzzing Warrè Hive and the Beeologique Warrè Hive cost about half the price of the Bee Built’s version, although their construction does not compare to it.

Pros and Cons

The sturdy construction of the Bee Built Warrè Hive is arguably its most striking feature, which comes with a slightly steeper price compared to other products.

However, take note that all Warrè hives come with one major flaw: You have to lift the entire hive just to add another box beneath the existing one. Or you can purchase a lifter or perhaps construct one if you have a decent workmanship skill (there are video tutorials on how to create your own Warrè lifter).

Conclusion

If you’re after durability, the Bee Built Warrè Hive is a good investment. However, you may want to have a lifter if you don’t like the idea of lifting an entire hive.


Warre Hive (Complete 4 Box Warre Kit Fully Assembled)

Buzzing Rooster Warrè Hive

This is a four-box Warrè kit that comes with 32 V-shaped frames, a quilt, a cover and a sloped roof. While it costs significantly less than the Bee Built Warrè Hive, it still looks like a quality build.

You can buy this on Amazon.com.

How It Compares to Other Products

It comes with more boxes (most Warrè hives can be purchased with just two boxes, although you have the option to buy additional supers for future expansion). Overall, this is a reasonably priced product that suits beekeepers who want to enjoy the benefits of Langstroth and top-bar hives.

Pros and Cons

This low-cost Warrè hive is ideal for beekeepers who live in colder climates. Meanwhile, any flaws of this product does not stem from its construction, but rather on the core design in which you are required to lift the entire hive when you want to add a new box.

Conclusion

If you want to try out the Warrè hive, this is a good starter kit because of its affordable price.

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