Beekeeping/Hive Bodies

Hive bodies are the exterior structure of the hive.

In a Langstroth bee hive, the hive body is a four-sided box, with the top and bottom open for stacking. Two sides are notched to support the top bars of removable frames. A complete hive consists of a bottom board, one or more hive bodies, an inner cover and a top/weather cover.

Commercial hive bodies are sized around a 20 inch basic dimension. They are 20" from front to back, and hold 8 or 10 frames (14" or 17") across the width. "Deep" hive bodies are approximately 10" tall and "medium" are 6-5/8" tall (approximately 1/2 and 1/3 of 20" respectively). A typical commercial hive consists of a two deep bodies called brood bodies on the bottom, a queen excluder screen, and three medium bodies called 'supers' on top. There is no difference between the brood bodies and supers, only how they are used by the colony and the beekeeper. Colonies naturally produce brood lower in the hive, and store excess above. Honey is harvested only from the supers, and they are shorter solely for ease of lifting.

Bees will sometimes identify the wrong hive as their home hive, and an attempt to enter the wrong hive can be a fatal mistake. Although many hive bodies are often painted a single color, some beekeepers claim to have found that a variety of bright colors can help the bees find their way back to their hives more easily. The arrangement of the hive stacks may also be important for visual recognition of the home hive. However, since bees likely use many other visual, spatial and olfactory cues to identify their home hive, the color of the hive bodies may have only a marginal effect on choice.