The hive

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A couple of boxes arrived for me at work. There was a gorgeous aroma coming from them.


The smell was a combination of thick red cedar wood

IMG_20150421_123826and beeswax.


In my box I found:

  • parts to make a National Beehive in red cedar : one brood box and three supers, plus roof, floor and crown board
  • parts to make up frames to go in the hive, including foundation beeswax

I also already had procured

  • a hive tool, to open the hive and perform various tasks
  • a bee veil and smock, to keep bees out of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth &c
  • a smoker


There are many different styles of hives available. They vary in design, internal dimensions, ease of lugging about, climate suitability, visual style, etc. Once you’ve chosen your hive, you have to stick with it, or the bits won’t fit together. A beehive is made of a floor, a brood box or two, a super or four, frames to go in them, a queen excluder, a crown board and a roof. They all have to be built to the same dimensions.

I went for the British National design.

A brood box is where the queen and colony live. It’s a big chunk of space, in which sit frames (each holding a comb). The queen lays eggs here, and the workers raise young, store pollen and nectar and make some honey. The brood box sits on a base, which forms the floor of the hive. It has a slot in the front to allow bees to come and go. I went with an open wire mesh floor. They’re now standard issue, and allow the parasitic varroa mites to fall out of the hive without accumulating in the hive.

When the brood box gets full of bees and the comb becomes full of larva, honey and pollen, it’s time to give the bees some more space. Supers are sections of the hive, placed above the brood box, to allow bees to store honey. They would store baby bees there too, but the queen excluder, which is a mesh placed between the brood box and the supers, prevents the queen from getting up there. Supers are a bit smaller than the brood box.

In each of these sections hang frames. I’m starting mine with foundation wax, which is a thin layer of beeswax, which the worker bees draw out into comb. Producing beeswax takes a huge amount of effort and using foundation stops them wasting energy.

Then there’s a roof, which keeps the bees out of the rain and the rain out of the bees.


Then I took my flat-pack hive home, and furtled out wood glue, hammers, sea language, &c.


Supers and brood boxes aren’t massively easy to put together. Luckily wood glue is forgiving, and you probably wouldn’t look at that side of the hive anyway.


A while later, all of the sections of the hive were glued together. A National hive with one brood box, a queen excluder, three shallow supers, a crown board and a deep lid.


Ready for siting.

IMG_20150423_202802 copy

I wouldn’t mind living there, under the right circumstances.

Read more about my bees.

Read more