Module 4 - The Honeybee Hive Box

Mr. John Frederick, Vice President, Iyanola Apiculture Collective, Queen Breeder and Jointer/Carpenter.

Table of Contents

The Hive

The hives have removable frames which provides bee space between frames and other parts of the hive of 3/8 inch. The design allows a comb to be unharmed when frames are removed.

Langstroth hives are the most common in the Caribbean however there are other types of hives such as Perone, Top Bar, Warre and Layens.

Modern hives have fixed sizes so that the equipment can be stacked and interchanged. They are usually constructed from wood.

The Basic Hive Components:

  • Boxes
  • A bottom board
  • Foundation and removable
  • Some type of cover

The Boxes

The boxes have many names.

A super is any box above the bottom board

There are 3 depths (heights) of supers:

  • Shallow super
  • Medium super
  • Deep super

Supers may be called by what they contain:

  • Honey super (super used to collect honey)
  • Brood super or brood “chamber” (super where queen lays eggs and where young are reared)

Hive Covers

Covers (or lids) sit on top of the hive.They are removed easily to allow access to the frames. Hive covers provide protection from the elements.

There are two main types of cover:

1. Telescopic Cover
3. Crown Board/Inner Cover

Bottom Board

Sits below the hive bodies. It is the foundation on which the
colony rests.

There are two types:

  1. Standard bottom board
  2. Solid bottom helps temperature control in colder climates.

Screen bottom board is a wood frame with screen center (8 mesh hardware screen). Recommended for mite control and to increase air flow.

Queen Excluder

Queen excluders are used to isolate the queen from the honey supers. They prevent the queen from laying eggs in
honey cells.

There are 3 types.

  • Metal bound
  • Wood bound
  • Plastic


Frames are the structures that hold the comb.They usually are made of wood, though plastic frames are increasingly common.

There are three depths, made to fit the three sizes of supers:

  • Deep
  • Medium
  • Shallow

If a box is being used as a brood super, it contains 10 frames Deep boxes are usually used for brood or in a combination with a medium box.

However, if it is being used as a honey super, it contains 8 frames. This is to allow the bees enough space to store more honey per frame. Medium supers are usually used for honey production.


Foundation is the material provided to bees on which they will build their comb.

Two basic types: Plastic and Wax

  • Wax foundation is pure beeswax formed into sheets
  • Plastic foundation has a plastic core which is usually coated by a thin layer of beeswax.