New Beekeeper. What Are the Different Parts of a Hive?

The basic wooden pieces that comprise a honey bee hive. Typically called “wooden ware” we’ll discuss each piece with a goal of helping you to be a successful beekeeper.


Wooden ware is a term used to describe the all of the bee hive pieces which are generally made out of wood. The focus of this blog is on the Langstroth hive since it is the most common honeybee hive used in the United States and a great choice for a new beekeeper. The picture below is of the basic components of the Langstroth hive.

Elevated Hive Stand: You can either purchase or make your own hive stand.  Most beekeepers make their own hive stand. A simple, inexpensive method is  to use cinder blocks. An elevated hive stand does a couple of things. 1) Keeps the hive stand out of standing water, snow, etc., 2) Makes it easier to work with – less bending over during inspections, etc., and 3) A barrier against pests  

Bottom Board: The bottom board is the base, or floor of a hive. Many  beekeepers use a screened bottom board for increased ventilation, pest  management, and to avoid a buildup of debris. 

Entrance Reducer: An entrance reducer is a thin strip installed in the entrance. It is typically made of wood, but it can also be made of metal or plastic, with a notch, or sometimes two. The main purpose of a reducer is to restrict or reduce the entrance of the beehive to a more controlled area. It is used in the larger hive entrance to protect against pests and rodents. It also reduces the chances of attacks from stronger colonies of bees and aids in the temperature regulation of the hive during the winter months. 

Deep Hive Body: It is sometimes called deep super, hive body, a deep, or brood chamber. You will need two “deeps”.  The honeybees use the lower deep as the nursery, or brood chamber, to  raise thousands of baby bees. The bees use the upper deep as the pantry or food chamber, where they store most of the honey and pollen for their use.  

Medium Hive Body: Beekeepers use medium hive bodies (honey supers) to save surplus honey. You’ll need to leave the honey in the deep hive bodies for the bees. Honey supers are identical in design to the deep hive body and assembled in a similar manner, however, the depth of a medium super is shallower.  The reduced depth of the supers make them easier to handle during the honey harvest. A medium honey super, full of honey, weighs up to 40 lbs and a full deep hive body weighs up to 60 lbs! You need two medium hive bodies.  

Queen Excluder (not pictured above, optional): A queen excluder is made of either  metal or plastic. It is used to prevent the queen from entering the medium hive bodies (honey supers) and laying eggs and developing brood. It does not prevent the worker bees from entering the honey supers to store honey.  

Frames: A hive frame or honey frame is a structural element in a beehive that holds the honeycomb or brood comb in a deep or medium hive body. Each frame firmly holds the wax foundation and enables you to remove the panels of honeycomb for inspection or honey extraction. Each hive body, deep or medium, typically holds 10 frames each, unless you have an eight frame version of a Langstroth hive. Frames come in different sizes that fit either a deep or medium hive body. 

Foundation: A hive foundation gives honey bees a head start for creating honeycomb using beeswax. Foundation is typically made  from plastic or 100% beeswax. Recently, plastic has become more popular because installation is easier compared to beeswax, which is more fragile. Plastic foundations work best with wooden grooved top bar frames. Beekeepers take frames from the honey supers and extract honey for the consumer. After extracting honey, frames can be returned to the super and placed back on the hive for the honey bees to clean them up and to store honey again. Again, foundation comes in different sizes matched to fit either medium  or deep frames. 

Inner Cover: The inner cover helps provide the right amount of bee working space and the ventilation bees need. Inner covers allow moisture to escape from the beehive and fresh air to freely circulate throughout. These inner covers are vital in preventing honey bees from affixing the outermost cover to the highest box with propolis. The notch in the inner cover should be placed to the front of the hive. It provides both ventilation and another entrance/exit for your bees.  

Outer Cover: The outer cover goes…on top! The purpose is obvious, namely to cover the beehive and protect it from the elements. A common design is called a  “telescoping top cover”, since it overlaps the inner cover and hangs down around its edges. This helps keep water from dripping into gaps at the top of the hive. 

Local Green Bay WI beekeepers hives

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