What is beehive


Bees live and raise their young in an enclosed or sheltered structure. A beehive can be in a hollow tree, an empty box, an old drum or the wall of a house. European Honey Bees live in about 40 liters or a box about 20 inches by 16 inches by 9 inches.

Man-made beehives are in or part of an apiary. The Latin name for bees is Apis mellifera. Beehives are made of several rows of honeycomb. Honeycomb is the characteristic six-sided, hexagonal structure made of beeswax. Honeycomb holds the nectar, honey, pollen and brood (eggs, larvae, pupae) or young baby bees. Bees leave a "bee space" of about 3/8 of an inch between and around combs.

The inside of any beehive, natural or man-made, is coated with propolis. Propolis is a resinous substance collected to seal and protect the hive. Propolis has unique anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Man-made beehives have frames in the hive. The hive box isĀ  also called a super. The bees build the honeycomb on frames in the super. Frames also allow honey to be extracted without killing all the bees. In clay pots, straw skeps or log gums the bees were killed to remove the honey. Killing all the bees to get the honey is one possible reason African bees are defensive now. The bees were just trying to survive.

Bees prefer the entrance near the bottom to keep the hive clean and control exposure to the weather and external threats. The queen will lay eggs in the lower comb. Workers will fill honeycomb cells around the brood with pollen to feed the larvae. Nectar and honey is stored at the top above the brood. As the queen lays more eggs, she will gradually move up. The honey and nectar storage will have to move up also. This natural storage of honey and nectar on top is ideal for beekeepers. Honey supers are added on top of the hive as the bees need space.