An Introduction to the Common Types of Beehives

In addition to his work as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Christopher C. Babcock is a licensed life and health insurance broker for his company, Babcock Professional Services. He completed his MD from the University of Louisville. When not at work, Christopher C. Babcock, DMD plays guitar and keeps bees.

While many variations of hives for keeping bees exist, there are three designs that are by far the most popular: the Langstroth, the Warre, and the Top Bar.

Invented in the mid-1900s by Reverend LL Langstroth, the Langstroth style of a beehive is by far the most iconic. It is a square box with removable frames that can then be harvested for honey. While this style can most easily be harvested, the frames themselves can be heavy and cumbersome to move around. In addition, bees generally need to be smoked before frames can be removed.

The Warre style is meant to provide a more organic hive for bees. It is a vertical style hive where bees fill comb from the top down. While providing better support for bees over the winter, this style of the hive does not use frames like Langstroth hives, so accessing bees to check on them or treat them is difficult to do and disrupts the comb structure.

Finally, the Top Bar style of the hive is a long wide hive structure with horizontal bars from which bees can form comb vertically. As the colony grows, bars can be added or removed to harvest honey. One problem with this style is that it can have ventilation issues, but the bars are much lighter than the frames of the Langstroth.