Basic Beekeeping Equipment

Basic Hive Parts

The image on the left shows the basic parts of a managed Langstroth hive, which is the most common type used today by beekeepers. In order to explain the hive parts, We’ll start at the bottom, and work our way up.

G. Hive stand – this is just an open frame that the rest of the hive sits upon for the main purposes of keeping the hive off the ground, ventilated, and insulated.

F. Bottom board – this item can either be solid or screened, depending on the bees needs and the beekeeper’s preference. This image shows an entrance reducer in place at the front of the board; this item is to keep mice and other pests out and to help keep some of the winter cold out of the hive.

E. Hive body/Super – the bottom box(es) in your hive stack is usually the brood chamber, where the queen lays eggs and the workers rear the brood. The bees will also store pollen and some honey in this box to be food for the bees being raised there. A brood box is usually a deep or medium sized super. Hive boxes are filled with frames; boxes are available in 8 or 10 frame sizes and are not interchangeable. These frames hang vertically in the box and have either wax coated plasticell or formed wax foundation for the bees to draw comb from.

D. Queen excluder – this is a wire screen with openings big enough to allow workers to pass and travel to the rest of the hive, but narrow enough to prevent the queen from passing through, due to her larger size. The purpose of this is to keep the queen from laying eggs in the upper honey super boxes.

C. Honey super – these boxes can be deep, medium, or shallow in depth. Most beekeepers use medium or shallow supers due to weight; once the frames in these boxes are full of honey, trying to lift them off for harvesting can become problematic.

B. Inner cover – like the bottom board, this can either be solid or screened, depending on the weather and needs of the hive to provide insulation or ventilation. Some beekeepers, in the winter, will place a feeding rim/shim under this cover to provide space for supplemental feeding options like sugar cakes and pollen patties.

A. Outer cover – this “lid” is telescoping, and fits over the sides of the top box/super to protect the hive. These usually have a galvanized covering.

Other Basic Beekeeping Equipment
  • Bee Hat and Veil – this is a cloth or wire mesh/netting, attached to the hat, that protects the beekeeper’s face and neck. This is the bare minimum protective gear a beekeeper should wear when working their bees.
  • Gloves – these protect the beekeeper’s hands while working with the hive. Note: purchase from beekeeping supply vendors, not work gloves from general retailers, as general work gloves have an odor the bees don’t care for.
  • Hive Tool – this is used to separate or pry apart frames or supers when bees have sealed them in place with propolis (a sticky substance bees use like caulking within the hive).
  • Smoker – a metal container with a small bellows attached to the side, used to lightly blow smoke out of the top nozzle in order to calm bees in the hive when working with them.

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