Hive Improvement

The modern Bee Hive designs are over 120 years old. In the years since they were designed and popularised the climate and environmental pressures Honey Bees are battling against have increased significantly but in many cases the Hive has not changed at all.

If we compare the ‘modern’ square framed Bee Hive to Hives or Nests found in the wild we can identify a number of significant differences:

  • Insulation – the year round insulation provided by an old tree trunk is … than that provided by 3/4″ Cedar wood found in a British National hive (for example).
  • Shape – Trees are round or thereabouts creating a shape that is sympathetic to the natural shape of a Bee Hive. The warming and cooling currents of air will circulate throughout the hive without leaving cold or hot spots.
  • Entrances

Now, the primary objectives or desired outcomes for someone keeping Bees for commercial purposes (hobby or otherwise) versus those observing and/or keeping Bees for enjoyment or in the pursuit of science and conservation are significantly different and it is not a binary decision as to which campfire a Beekeeper may choose to sit around.

However, the question is :- How can we improve all artificial hives such that they provide the best environment for the Honey Bee without negatively impacting upon their purpose. The ideas that follow are not must-dos or dead-certs – they are a toolbox of modifications that are highly likely to improve the health of your colony and …

Entrances

Obviously it goes without saying if the URL of a website is beeportals.co.uk the entrance(s) of a hive are going to be one of the key modifications suggested. You can read about them here.

Roofs

Anything from 25-45% of heat within the hive can be lost through the roof. By insulating the roof of modern beehive though the cold months we can dramatically reduce how much work the Bees need to do to maintain the optimum cluster temperature.

If we leave the insulation in place all year round we can stabilise the temperature fluctuations of the hive and reduce heat stress in peak summer days,

Its an easy retro-fit with a few pieces of batten fixed around the outside, some suitable insulation in the centre and fabric fitted over the top. Read our Insulated Roofs – Step by Step Guide.

Floors

Air is a great insulator but draughts can cause up to 25% of heat loss in a typical house so why would a Bee Hive be any different. Bees will (if they have the resources and conditions) propolis up gaps between boxes but sealing a floor specifically if its vented is a huge undertaking.

However, making an insulated stand for your Bee Hive is quite straight forward with a few tools and a little time. Read our Insulated Floors – Step by Step Guide.