I have made some mention of looking at adding a beehive or so in the coming year. Currently, both of the hives that I am working with are in traditional wooden Langstroth hives. While I have no problem with more wooden hives and in particular more wooden Langstroth hives I have been somewhat intrigued by other hive styles. There is a whole wide world of beehives out there, so why not try a few different types.
One type of hive is that I would be interested in is the Warre Hive. This hive is designed to be closer to an empty tree that bees might find and use as a home in the wild. It was conceived to be a hive that would need minimal intrusion by the beekeeper, allowing the bees to do what bees do. If you are looking to have bees more for pollinating your garden then for producing as much honey as possible, it could be the right hive. This hive normally has a viewing window meaning that you could just peek into the hive via a window instead of having to pull the hive open frame by frame. One downside though is that you have to add new boxes at the bottom of the hive. For me, a long term plan is to end up having at least one of these in the bee yard.
Another type of hive that is used quite a bit is the Top Bar hive. Unlike the Langstroth and Warre hives the top bar is
horizontal. Also due to the design, there are no heavy boxes to lift and move around. Also, these use just the top bar of a hive, normally with a strip of wax starter, but let the bees build comb as they see fit. Now this means there is no way to use these frames in a standard extractor, but if you can’t lift a full super than it might be the right choice for you. Additionally, it has the benefit of not looking like a traditional beehive. If you are looking to keep bees without people knowing right away that you have bees, the top bar might be your best way to go.
Now, while I think it would be cool to eventually have at least of each of these types of hives, right now I’m looking at another Langstroth. I was first thinking about looking into getting another wooden hive like the ones that I’ve been working with. But, I’ve come to find another option. You can apparently get a Langstroth style hive made from polystyrene. I am intrigued since it seems that these kinds of hive are quite good at insulating, which could be a good thing. I’ll keep you posted for future updates. With any luck, there will be one of these joining the homestead this year.