When you see a beehive in books or on tv, most likely it is a Langstroth hive. This type of beehive has been used since it’s invention in 1851. The first movable frame beehive revolutionized beekeeping by incorporating “bee space” into a top opening hive with frames that can easily be removed. It is such a practical and innovative design, that today we use the same measurements in modern beekeeping.
What is a Langstroth Beehive?
The Langstroth beehive is the most commonly used beehive today. Appearance wise, Langstroth hives look like tall, wooden drawers. That’s because this hive consists of stackable wooden boxes containing frames for the bees to build comb on.
There are 3 different sizes of boxes – shallow, medium, and deep. Because the boxes are stackable, langstroth hives are customizable. You can choose what box size and how many boxes you want on your beehive.
Langstroth beehives have standard measurements, meaning that all of the different brands that make beehives use the same measurements when constructing their hives. The good thing about that is that the boxes are interchangeable across brands.
There are 2 types of Langstroth beehives – 8 frame and 10 frame. As you can tell, the difference between the two is the number of frames each box holds. Because of the difference in frames, they have slightly different measurements.
Langstroth Beehive Measurements
10 Frame Langstroth Beehive Measurements
All 10 frame Langstroth Beehives have the same length and width – 19 ⅞ inches long and 16 inches wide. The difference is the depth. As you can see in the chart below, shallow, medium, and deep boxes have different depth measurements.
|Deep||9 5⁄8 inches||19 ⅞ inches||16 inches|
|Medium||6 5⁄8 inches||19 ⅞ inches||16 inches|
|Shallow||5 7/8 inches||19 ⅞ inches||16 inches|
8 Frame Langstroth Beehive Measurements
8 Frame Langstroth Beehive measurements are very close to the 10 frame. The width of each box is 2 inches shorter because it holds less frames.
|Deep||9 5⁄8 inches||19 7/8 inches||14 inches|
|Medium||6 5⁄8 inches||19 7/8 inches||14 inches|
|Shallow||5 7/8 inches||19 7/8 inches||14 inches|
Langstroth Beehive Weight
Full beehive boxes can be surprisingly heavy. Keep this in mind when choosing which box you want to use for supers. When full of honey, you can expect your supers to weigh the following:
- Shallow – 40 pounds
- Medium – 50 pounds
- Deep – 80 pounds
- Shallow – 32 pounds
- Medium – 40 pounds
- Deep – 64 pounds
Langstroth beehives are built using the theory of bee space. Bee space was discovered by Lorenzo Langstroth in the 1850’s, and has been used ever since. He found that in spaces larger than ⅜ an inch, bees will build excess comb. And if the space is smaller than ¼ inch, they will fill it with propolis.
Therefore, the correct bee space is between ⅜ inch and ¼ inch. The average bee space that most beekeepers use today is 5/16 inches. So, in Langstroth beehives, there is a 5/16 or ⅜ space separating the frames from each other and other hive parts.
Parts of a Beehive
The hive stand is the platform that the beehive sits on. Hive stands do not come with the hive and must be purchased separately. The purpose of the hive stand is to elevate the beehive off of the ground, which protects it from ground moisture. It is easier for the beekeeper to work on a beehive that is waist level.
The bottom board sits at the bottom of the hive and contains the beehive entrance. The 2 types of bottom board are solid and screened.
An entrance reducer is a small piece of rectangular wood. It goes between the bottom board and the brood chamber. Entrance reducers minimize the size of the hive entrance to protect the colony from robber bees and pests like mice.
The slatted rack is optional and not always used in beehives. It raises the brood chamber a little higher to help with ventilation and hive congestion.
The brood chamber is typically a deep box. It sits on top of the bottom board, or slatted rack if you are using one. The brood chamber is very important because that is where the queen lives and lays eggs. A common hive set up has 2 deep brood chambers at the bottom of the hive.
A queen excluder is usually placed over the brood chamber to prevent the queen from getting into the honey supers. The worker bees are small enough to fit through the gaps, but the larger queen cannot.
Supers are where the bees store their honey. Because supers are often heavy and stacked up high, medium and shallow boxes are usually used. Multiple supers can be placed on a beehive as necessary.
Inside of each box are frames. The size of the frames coordinate with the size of the box. For example, a medium super will require medium frames. The bees build comb on the frames to raise brood (in the brood box), or store honey (in the honey supers).
Foundation is often used on the frames to give the bees a guide in which to build their comb. There are 2 types of foundation – wired wax and plastic. While bees seem to prefer wired wax, plastic is easier for the beekeeper to work with.
The inner cover sits on top of the uppermost super, underneath the top cover. The purpose of the inner cover is so that the bees do not glue the top of the super to the roof. Inner covers are made of wood and have an entrance hole and a hole in the middle. Inner covers are also helpful in regulating temperatures.
The outer cover is at the very top of the beehive. The most common outer cover I see is the telescoping top cover. This cover has sides that hang slightly over the top super. The top is made of galvanized metal, which offers good protection from the elements.
Langstroth beehives have standard measurements that vary depending on if it is an 8 frame or 10 frame hive. The 3 different box sizes are deep, medium, and shallow. The measurement of bee space is used to prevent bees from building excess comb.