Troubleshooting Beekeeping Equipment

Successfully keeping bees means knowing how to use and maintain beekeeping equipment.

| October 2015


As long as the hives take into account bee space requirements, any style will work equally well for the bees, although matching beekeeping equipment can be pleasant for the beekeeper.

Photo courtesy Quarry Books

The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver (Quarry Books, 2015), by James E. Tew, presents 100 common problems faced by beekeepers and offers practical solutions in clear and simple terms. Each key area, from hive management and equipment to diseases and honey production, is tackled in depth with photographs, tips and useful insights. The following excerpt is from chapter 2, “Beekeeping Equipment.”

You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver.

To the uninitiated, beehive equipment and protective clothing can appear complicated. This view is deceptive. The only purpose of the protective gear is to shield the beekeeper from an excessive number of stings; at the most basic level, the beehive is little more than a stack of boxes, each holding about eight to ten framed honeycombs. Everything else is personal choice.

All bees really need in order to set up a colony is a dry, dark cavity approximately one cubic foot square, with a defendable entrance and nothing else already living there. Consequently, bees are amenable to most common hive designs.

Confusion can arise due to the sheer number of designs and styles of hive in use — from the popular Langstroth to the British National and WBC designs, and from Warre to top-bar hives. Some of these styles have been pictured in the book to give a feel for the variety available around the world, but the best advice is always to find out what equipment is most commonly used in your local area. Though daunting at first, with the help of appropriate study materials and possibly a beekeeper friend, all will become clear. Once the initial choices have been made, the novice beekeeper can begin developing expertise, and natural expansion will occur.

My hive equipment doesn’t match


There are many hive designs available around the world, ranging from simple to surprisingly complex. Occasionally adding to the confusion is the fact that manufacturers’ measurements and designs may differ slightly. Mixed equipment may fit together, but not perfectly.

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