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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

..Siting a hive
...As partners
...Bee hives
>..Hive construction
...Smoker,hive tool,feeder
...Capture a swarm
...Buy a colony or nucleus
...Queens & drones
...The workers
...Ah! Honey
...Propolis,royal jelly,wax

Hives generally have two storage layers, referred to as 'supers'.

When these are both full, a third layer can be added. On top of this high-rise bee-house is a roof to keep out the rain. The hive should have ventilation holes at the top.

In the winter you should put a mouse-guard at the entrance hole; a bee-house is just as desirable a residence as a human house to an autumn mouse, no doubt even more so as it is crammed with delectable honey. The mouse would not last long as the bees kill intruders but the carcass is too large for them to remove and is therefore a possible source of infection. What the bees would do to counteract this is typical of bee ingenuity. They would form a layer of propolis over the dead intruder. This is the substance collected from leaf buds by the industrious bees. Being resinous, it is a strong glue and is used in hive construction; it is also a natural antibiotic and would help to prevent the decomposing mouse from infecting the hive.

Really competent woodworkers may find constructing a hive part of the overall challenge of keeping bees. The rest of us are probably best advised to buy one. You can often buy second-hand hives and it is also possible to construct fairly simple outer boxes and simply buy the frames to hang inside them. Some enterprising beekeepers convert dustbins to use as hives. These are apparently very successful, even if they look somewhat unromantic. The most romantic hives of all are the original straw skeps that our ancestors used. We in fact use a drawing of one of these on the honey fudge that we sell. They are certainly less productive and we use the modern hive in reality to produce the honey. In any case, whatever kind of hive you decide to use, you can be sure that for each hive occupied this year you can expect to fill another with bees next year when your bees swarm.