What is a Langstroth Hive?

A Langstroth hive is a hive made up of stacked boxes of various depths, a floor, inner cover and roof. Within each box are wooden frames in which the bees build their comb. It is the most common hive in North America and Australia.

Why use a Langstroth Hive?

Being the most common hive in North America and Australia, most literature and classes teach you about Langstroth hive management. Most of the accessories are made specifically for Langstroth hives. The boxes and parts are standardized, so getting equipment is easy.

Why Use Foundationless Frames?

Foundationless Frames with Wedge Comb Guides

We sell our Langstroth hives with optional Foundationless Frames. Some beekeeper choose to use foundation (wax or plastic sheets with a raised hexagon pattern that guides the bees as they draw comb), but for several reasons we believe this is unhealthy for bees. As natural beekeepers, we prefer to keep plastic out of our hive. Studies show even wax foundation is often contaminated with agricultural chemicals. The hexgonal pattern on foundation also guides bees to build unnaturally large cells, leaving larvae more vulnerable to varroa mite. Finally, harvesting honeycomb from foundationless hives mean harvesting wax as well, giving you wax for crafts and removing older wax from your hive.

With our foundationless frames the bees are able to build all their own wax from scratch. The frames feature the same milled wedge featured on our top bars that guide bees to draw straight comb. For beekeepers who prefer to use foundation, we offer our hives without frames. Our boxes are industry standard sizes, so foundation frames from other manufacturers will fit our hives

What makes our Langstroth hives so special?

It Starts With the Best Wood

Our hives are crafted using Western Red Cedar in Portland, Oregon. Western Red Cedar is the ideal wood for hive construction due to its strength, light weight, and weather resistance. Our wood is kiln dried and milled to full 1” thickness for improved strength and better insulation for bees. Unlike pine hives, cedar does not need to be painted to help it last. We pre-drill all components for easy assembly.

Finger Joint Construction

 Finger joints offer more surface area and a strong bond than butt or rabbet joints, while also making perfectly square assembly almost guaranteed. Simply fit the sides together with the handles facing outwards, drive screws into the pre-drilled holes, and your boxes are complete. We believe screws offer plenty of strength, but you're welcome to glue your box sides as well if you prefer.

Easy Assembly

All of our components are pre-drilled for easy assembly. The entire hive can easily be assembled with provided screws in 30-45 minutes depending on skill level and tools available. Or you can pay a little more and we’ll assemble the hive for you!

Free Shipping

Our hives ship free to the lower 48 United States. We ship anywhere in the world – if you’re outside of the contiguous states, please contact us and we’ll get you a shipping estimate!

Bee Thinking Guarantee

We not only build our hives, but we use them in our own apiaries in Portland, Oregon. Since 2008 we’ve tested our designs with our own 30+ honeybee colonies; we know they work well. We’re confident we make the best hives on the market, and we stand behind our products.Take a look at our return policy to learn more.

History

Invented in 1851 by the Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth, his hive quickly grew to become the dominant hive throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. It replaced the tremendous variety of hive designs that had sprung up from the 1700s-1800s, and created a simple, standard hive that made large-scale beekeeping a feasible venture.

Placement

There are many factors to consider when placing any bee hive, however, Langstroth hives have some unique needs that should be addressed when deciding upon the final location.

 

Easy Access

While there are many "requirements" on the traditional "hive placement checklist," I think one of the most important factors to consider is ease of access for you, the beekeeper. The bees are adaptable, and can overcome just about any inconvenience you throw their way. If the location makes it difficult for you to enjoy the hive, and especially if it makes it difficult for you to work in the hive, this is a major issue. You will want a location that is free of obstructions on the backside of the hive (the side with the window), with at least 2-3 feet of space so that you can stand and squat comfortably. I assure you that you will spend more time than you know knelt down with friends and family while eagerly looking through the window to see the progress your bees are making. Try and provide enough space for at least 2-3 people to fit comfortably while looking through the window.

 

Level Ground

Langstroth hives are foundationless, and the bees build their comb perpendicular to the ground. If your hive is on a slope, the comb will be equally sloped. Make sure you either place the hive on level ground, or place garden tiles, rocks or scrap wood under the legs to make it as level as possible. This also makes it easier for you to access the hive without fumbling up and down a hill.

 

Early Morning Sun

While this doesn't apply to extremely hot areas, it is generally agreed upon that hives are more successful with more sun than less. If you have to choose between early morning sun and afternoon sun, go with early morning sun, as this will get the hive active earlier in the day, and provide them with more time to gather resources.

 

Safety

If you live in an urban or suburban area and you feel there is potential danger to either the bees or people, be sure to place the hive in a relatively concealed area -- preferably one that is fenced off. Many beekeepers who live in the city like to point the entrance of the hive toward a fence or a hedge

Wind: Ideally the hive will be placed in a location that is protected from harsh winds billowing into the hive entrances during the winter. Due to the leg configuration and weight, our hives are very sturdy and we've had no issues with hives being toppled by high winds.

 

Water

If you live in an arid region -- especially one where pools are prevalent -- this is consideration is more important. Bees need water to use within the hive, and they, being opportunists, will frequent the closest reliable water source, regardless of how inconvenient it is for you or your neighbors. If the closest water source is your neighbor's pool or bird bath, the bees will be more than willing to use them. If this matters to you, make sure you provide them with a shallow-sloped water source. Bird baths work very well!

 

Forage

Obviously if you plan to keep bees in your back yard you will have little control over the nectar and pollen sources available to your colony, but an important consideration nonetheless. We've had greater success with our colonies placed in urban and suburban areas, largely due to the abundance and variety of flower plants available in parks, gardens and yards. Rural areas, especially areas with heavy agriculture, generally have less forage available due to the use of mono crops, pesticides and fungicides.

 

Legality

The last, and maybe one of the most important factors, is whether it is legal to keep bees in your area. Many cities still outlaw beekeeping outright, or make the licensing process incredibly difficult for the beekeeper. Check your city, county and state laws prior to investing in a beehive and bees, and then make a decision accordingly. Keep in mind that a number of areas have antiquated laws explicitly banning the use of any hives but Langstroth or frame beehives.

While I don't know of anyone being accosted over such silly regulations, it's still something to keep in mind.

Management

Most Langstroth hives are started with either 2 deep boxes, or 3 medium boxes. Either packages, nucleus colonies, or swarms work great for populating the hive. Once your bees are installed, monitor their comb production for the first weeks to ensure they are building straight within the frames. Once they fill up the bottom boxes and 70% of the top box, it’s time to add more boxes. They are usually added at the top, but can also be added to the bottom. Honey bees will build in whichever direction the space appears.

As the colony grows, continue to add boxes and monitor comb production. Eventually you will find boxes full of surplus honey toward the top. The bees will ripen this in the summer and early fall, at which point it may be ready to harvest. In the Portland area, we like to leave our bees with 50lbs of honey to overwinter. Any honey over this amount can usually be safely harvested.