Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hive Bodies and Supers

The natural home of the honey bee is a cavity in a hollow tree. Honey bees select a storm damaged tree or one that has been hollowed out by birds and termites to move into when they reproduce the colony by swarming. They prefer to find a tree at the edge of the forest with a small, eastern facing knot hole located along the bottom of the cavity. Honey bees like to find a tree with a cavity of about 40 liters in volume. They prefer to have the entrance a considerable height above the ground. Of course, swarming bees do not always find a tree with a cavity fitting all of these desirable bee abode requirements. It is often easier for them to find a house with an opening leading to an inviting space between the interior and exterior walls. The honey bee has no interest in the appearance of its hive. It will gladly live in a dry hive that is freshly painted, unpainted, or old and worn. The walls or a house or the hollow, wooden columns supporting a porch are just as attractive as a modern bee hive to a colony of honey bees.

The modern bee hive is a functional replica of the hollow tree. Designed by Lorenzo L. Langstroth in 1851, it is made of hollow wooden boxes which stack atop one another. The lower boxes contain the frames of comb that hold the queen and brood. Langstroth’s original hive body had a depth of about nine inches. Two deep hive bodies have a volume of 84 liters and comprise the traditional bee hive. Some beekeepers, like us at Peace Bee Farm, find advantages in building bee hives of this same 84 liter capacity using three boxes of about six inches in depth. Above the hive bodies we stack the honey supers, as bees naturally store their honey above their brood nest. As many supers as are needed are superimposed on the hive.

1 comment:

  1. I have found that they also will often swarm to the same tree or same spot - wherever it is they choose.