Building Beehives For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Most bee supply vendors offer ten-frame versions of the very popular Langstroth-style beehive — each hive body holds ten frames across. For decades, that’s been the most popular size for the Langstroth. However, as a result of some recent books and publications, the eight-frame version of this hive is gaining popularity.

And for good reason — fewer frames means a lighter weight hive body and super, and there’s a lot to be said for that! Some of the commercial beekeeping suppliers have branded the eight-frame Langstroth as the garden hive.

[Credit: Illustration by Felix Freudzon, Freudzon Design]

Credit: Illustration by Felix Freudzon, Freudzon Design

Keep in mind that other than the frames, the parts and accessories for a ten-frame hive are not interchangeable with the parts and accessories for an eight-frame hive. So you need to decide which of these versions of the Langstroth hive is right for you.

The only disadvantage of the Langstroth hive (in terms of building) relates to the use of finger joints (also known as box joints or comb joints). These are fairly traditional and what are used on the top quality Langstroth hives available from the commercial beekeeping supply vendors.

Although this joint is the strongest and most desirable type of joinery for this hive, making finger joints can be tricky for the neophyte carpenter and requires having the right tools for the job.

Vital stats

Have a look at some statistics and tips for building a Langstroth hive:
  • Overall size: 22 inches x 18 inches x 29-1/4 inches (ten-frame version); 22 inches x 15-3/4 inches x 29-1/4 inches (eight-frame version).

  • Capacity: Because this design consists of modular, interchangeable hive parts, you can add extra medium honey supers as the colony grows and honey production increases. The capacity for bees and honey is unlimited, regardless of whether you build the eight- or ten-frame version of the hive.

  • Type of frame: This hive uses a Langstroth-style, self-centering frame with beeswax foundation inserts. The ten-frame version has 20 deep frames and 10 medium frames. The eight-frame version has 16 deep frames and 8 medium frames.

  • Universality: Because the Langstroth hive is so widely used around the world, you can easily find replacement parts, gadgets, and add-ons, even for the more recently popular eight-frame version. This stuff is widely available from many beekeeping supply stores (search the web and you’ll find dozens of such suppliers).

    Also, you can easily purchase Langstroth-style frames. When ordering, just specify deep or medium size Langstroth frames and foundation.

  • Degree of difficulty: This is a pretty straightforward design. However, two details add a moderate degree of difficulty:

    • The fabrication of the finger joints is likely the trickiest part for beginner woodworkers.

    • For the tin work involved with the aluminum flashing material used on the outer cover, bending the corners takes a little patience and practice.

  • Cost: Using scrap wood (if you can find some) would keep material costs of this design minimal, but even if you purchase the recommended lumber, hardware, and fasteners, you can likely build this hive for about $160.

Materials list

The following table lists what you’ll use to build your Langstroth hive. In most cases, you can make substitutions as needed or desired.
Lumber Hardware Fasteners
3, 8’ lengths of 1" x 12" clear pine lumber Roll of 20" wide aluminum flashing (usually comes in a 10' length) 85, 6 x 1-3/8" deck screws, galvanized, #2 Phillips drive, flat-head with coarse thread and sharp point
1, 2' x 4' sheet of 3/4" thick exterior plywood Optional: weatherproof wood glue 250, 6d x 2" galvanized nails
1, 2' x 4' sheet of 1/4" thick lauan plywood Optional: a gallon of latex or oil exterior paint (white or any light color), exterior polyurethane, or marine varnish 25, #8 x 1/2" lath screws, galvanized, #2 Phillips drive, flat-head with sharp point

Here are some notes about the materials for your Langstroth hive:

  • Clear pine is not too expensive as lumber goes. Alternatively, knotty pine is even less expensive, but you may have to order extra material if a random knot interferes with the joinery of parts. You can also use different kinds of wood for your Langstroth hive. Cedar and cypress make beautiful hives, for example, and you can really get fancy with a cherry hive. It’s up to you.

  • Depending on where you buy it, plywood sometimes comes as 23/32 inch (rather than 3/4 inch). No worries: The difference is minimal, and either way, the plywood will fit just fine.

  • There are a few more fasteners than you’ll use because, you’ll probably lose or bend a few along the way. It’s better to have a few extras on hand and save yourself another trip to the hardware store.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

C. Marina Marchese is an author, beekeeper, and honey sensory expert. She is also the founder of the American Honey Tasting Society and the Red Bee ® brand.

Howland Blackiston is the bestselling author of Beekeeping For Dummies and Building Beehives For Dummies, and founding board member and past president of Con­necticut’s Back Yard Beekeepers Association.

This article can be found in the category: