Bee Keeping 102
Basic Hive Components – The Deep Hive Body
As we work our way up from the bottom board, we are ready to examine the details of the next item. This is referred to as the deep hive body. It sometimes is called a deep super, hive body, a deep, and hive chamber. It’s about 9.5″ tall. Since most people visiting our site are from the West you should consider running what we call a double deep. This is where one of these boxes is atop another. If you live in the in the south where winters are very mild, you
could consider just using one of these and adding a medium 6-7″ tall box to complete the brood raising area. This is where your bees will live and raise their young. This is where the queen will lay her eggs for new worker and drone bees. This is where the hive will store their own reserves of honey and pollen, their food source.
The standard and common size for a 10 frame deep hive body is: 19 7/8″ in length, 16 1/4″ wide and 9 5/8″ in height. A deep hive body is heavy when it is full of bees, honey and pollen. Therefore, some beekeepers choose to use the medium size super for hive bodies. The demensions of the medium super is the same except for the height. It is 3″ shorter, with a height of 6 5/8″. If you choose to use medium supers for hive bodies, you will need to plan on using 2 medium supers if your winters are cold, and 1-2 medium supers if your winters are mild. We will assume your winters are cold and you plan to use two deep hive bodies on your new hive.
Most hive bodies have rabbet joint corners. These are higher quality boxes and will last longer. This reduces the “raw edge” exposed to the weather. Most deep hive bodies have been specifically designed to provide exact bee space needed in the deep hive chamber. If you build yours or buy them unpainted you should consider a minimum of two coats. It’s recommended that you use oil base pain on raw wood first, then use water base paint second. Never paint the inside of a bee box. Raw wood is better for your bees, but the outside really should be painted it you want it to last. Exterior paint recommend. Linseed oil work well to for exterior only. Some treatments for wood finished are not recommend, however if you budget is tight you can always buy the mistakes at the paint store. Just visit the paint shop and ask if they have any exterior paint mistakes and see if it’s color you could live with. Avoid black, red, blue. Go with white, yellow, or lighter colors.
It is a common practice to use 10 individual frames per hive body. Pre manufactured frames with precision accuracy will ensure standard acceptable dimensions for high quality frames. Most frame will be carefully fitted together,
using a lot of staples per frame. Staples are typically 3/4″ in length or sometimes longer. The side bars on the frames are notched out so that the bees can move between frames more easily. We have found the best frame and foundation combination is what is known as the top and bottom grooved frame. This means the frame has a groove in the top and in the bottom so that a piece of plasticell foundation can snap and lock securely and easily into the frame. When you need to you will be able to discard the foundation and start over with out needed to buy a new frame.
Wood frames with plasticell foundation works very nicely. Although you can also buy other types of frames and foundation the plasticell(brandname) is a hard plastic about 1/8″ thick
and is coated with real beeswax. It holds up very well and helps the bee get a jump start. If you appose to plastic in the hive you can go with wax foundation, however this is used with a different type of frame is neither is universal. Going with a wood/plastic combo seems to be a good fix. Some keepers will spray sugar water (1 part water, 1 part sugar) onto the foundation to speed up the time it takes for the bees to draw out the comb. The foundation already has the comb cell pattern embossed on both sides, making the bees’ job much easier. And it helps them make efficient comb.
Like we mentioned above some beekeepers use real beeswax foundation and use wire to hold it onto the frame. This was the common practice for many years. It has some disadvantages that I wanted to add. Hard to find, melts and dis-forms in transport, mice easily eat threw it. I know of few others but can’t think of them right off the bat. We recommend avoiding wax foundation for beginners.
On the plasticell foundation the milimeter size of each cell in very important. The larger the size of the cell in the foundation, the larger the cell will be drawn out and the larger the bee will be. So, recommend use foundation that is specifically 4.9 millimeters. Plasticell or Ritecell are two name brands and both have that spec. You can’t go wrong with either.
It is important to remember that where winters are cold, two deep hive bodies are needed so that plenty of honey is around. Total hive weight will be around 115 pounds at the beginning of winter. 60-70 lbs of that total weight will be honey stored for the bees to enjoy throughout the winter months.