The Langstroth beehive is a beehive that was designed using the principle of bee space, discovered and published by L. L. Langstroth, and manipulation. This hive design is characterized by its removable frames, which allow for the inspection of the bees for development, diseases and parasites. In 1860, Langstroth developed and published his design and it has since been the basis for a majority of the world’s man made beehives.
Like most common designs of hives, the Langstroth hive uses frames. These frames are often filled with some form of foundation to give the bees a proper starting position and template for building comb. These frames are then installed in hive bodies. The Langstroth hive is known to impose artificial segregation of the colony by physically dividing honey from brood by use of the brood chambers, for brood development and bee residence, and the honey supers, for excess honey collection. These separate chambers are stacked onto a bottom board and capped off with some form of cover, most often a inner cover and an outside fitting telescopic cover.
Other parts, such as feeders, entrance reducers, hive stands, queen excluders, or similar items may also be used in conjunction with Langstroth style hives.
Langstroth hives use standard sized hive parts to allow for interchangeability with other hives. This feature of non-unique hive parts allows for mass production, and therefore cheaper prices.
Langstroth hives are the most common design of retailed hives. Because of this, it is relatively easy to acquire the proper parts to fit them.
Increased Honey Harvesting
Because honey is often extracted from reusable comb only small amounts of wax is lost during honey production. This means that the same comb, when properly stored, may be used season after season, not needing to be replaced by the bees, and is therefore more efficient.
Expansion and Contraction
Because of their modular design, Langstroth hives are perfect for expansion and contraction of particular hives. Hives can be made larger to fit more bees, or smaller to fit fewer depending on seasonal population.
Langstroth hives require exact measurements and must conform to rather precise standards. These standards ensure that parts are actually interchangeable between hives. Attention must also be taken to consider bee space. If bee space is not properly observed it is not uncommon to have parts glued together with propolis or connected with burr comb.
Decreased Wax Harvesting
Though wax may be harvested from Langstroth style hives, especially in the form of old comb, generally the only wax collected is that in the from of wax capping during honey harvesting and that of burr comb. Most beekeepers prefer to preserve their wax comb so that it may be reused for as many seasons as possible. If wax production is desired a top bar hive may better suited than a Langstroth hive.
Langstroth hives are known for heavy lifting when it comes time to harvest honey. Some beekeepers choose to use smaller Beekeeping/Honey Supers, but often they too may become difficult to lift when filled with ripe honey.
Langstroth hives may be more difficult to manage compared to other hive designs, such as the top bar hive, as the entire hive must be opened in order to do even minor management. This difficulty of management is most easily expressed with having to remove the cover, and alerting the entire hive by way of a suddenly well-lit hive where it was once quite dark. Difficulty also arises during inspection of the brood chamber, the supers must be removed, and so likely would the top most brood chamber, to make a satisfactory hive wide inspection.