We are now at the Hive Body aka Brood Chamber.
Bee boxes come in six basic sizes:
Large aka “deeps” or “brood boxes” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.
Medium aka “Illinois” or “western” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.
Small aka “honey super” or “shallow” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.
Of course there are other sizes and varieties of boxes, e.g. “super shallows” and “section supers” like the one pictured in the diagram. But I’m sticking to the basics here.
Old School beekeepers use the Large 10 frame box as their Hive Body/Brood Chamber. They usually stack another Large box on top of the first one as their colony grows in size.
There’s only one problem. When a Large 10 frame box is full of brood and honey, it is HEAAAVVYY!! I’m talking 90 pounds of heavy!
My first hive is totally Old School. Two large boxes on the bottom, with two medium boxes on top of those used as honey supers.
Can I lift those bottom boxes? Sure, when I’m powered by adrenaline because I’m terrified all my bees are going to die if I don’t get the hive back together! Like those stories of people lifting cars…
I learned my lesson the hard way. My second hive is going to be made up entirely of Medium 8 frame boxes. I’ve heard them called “lady boxes.” Sounds good to me!!
Next we arrive at the Queen Excluder, possibly the most controversial piece of equipment on the hive. The point of an excluder is to keep the Queen from laying eggs in the honey supers, thus keeping baby bees out of the honey you harvest. Most beekeepers I know regard them with disdain, including Bee Guru Michael Bush. I tried an excluder once, but never again. My worker bees hated it. My advice? Toss it.
Next we come to the Inner Cover. I understand that this is an essential part of the hive, but I forgot to put mine on last year and my bees are fine. I recommend using one, however.
FINALLY, we arrive at the Outer or Telescoping Cover. A very essential part of the hive. And now it comes in an attractive English Garden Style!
I hope this series has unraveled some of the Mysteries of the Langstroth Hive. Now on to some gardening topics!!