Honey Bee Hives

In the wild, honey bee hives are often located in the holes of trees and on rock crevices. The hive is made from wax from the special abdominal glands of worker honey bees. Workers sweep up a few flakes of wax from their abdomens and chew these flakes until the wax becomes soft. Workers then mold the wax and use it in making cells to form the hive.

Honey bee colonies eat, develop into adults and perform daily activities within these hives. The honeycomb is also used to store honey as food reserves and to house larvae and pupae.

When honey-producing bees become domesticated, they are kept in manmade honey bee hives. Honey bees use this area for raising their eggs, larvae and pupae, storing honey for the next winter and protecting themselves from predators or honey thieves.

Two kinds of manmade hives may be used, depending on the beekeeper and the amount of honey production. Traditional beehives, or fixed-frame hives, include bee gums, skeps and tile hives. Modern beehives include the Langstroth honey bee hives, modified dadant or modified commercial hives, top-bar hives and other regional varieties like Kenya-type and British modified hives. While these hives are built differently, they all serve to shelter thousands of honey bees, allowing them to perform daily activities.

Traditional honey beehives include fixed frames without internal structures, and honey bees build comb to fill the space. Traditional honey beehives provide a colony with the enclosure they need. However, in order to move the hive, beekeepers must destroy the comb, leaving thousands of honey bees homeless.

Because beekeepers have to crush the wax to extract honey from these hives, traditional honey beehives provide more beeswax products than they do edible honey. Thus, beekeepers who aim to produce honey no longer use fixed frame beehives, though farmers who maintain honey bees for beeswax still use them.