Posted by: Pam B. Newberry | February 8, 2011

Hive Building 101 – It has begun…

Last week, our Bee Mentor friend came by and helped Hobbit King and I start the construction of our honey bee hives.

It’s been a long time since I used my skills of working with Pine boards with finger joints, maxi-bond glue, Phillips head screws, electric drill, and a weighted rawhide mallet. The joy of seeing the hives take shape far out weighed the struggle of remembering what to do or how to do it.

So, what goes into making a beehive anyway?

Figure 1: Diagram of a Honey Bee Hive

Each section of the hive’s component parts (as seen above in the diagram) has a specific function.

The Hive Stand provides a means to hold the hive and support. We did not purchase a pre-made Hive Stand. We are planning to build our own out of lumber so that we can place our hives at a height that will lower the need to bend a lot.

The Bottom Board (in our case, it is called a Screened Bottom Board) serves several  functions. It provides a secure base, aids in controlling Varroa Mites, and provides optimal ventilation. In the picture below (See Picture 1), you see our Bee Mentor showing us how to insert a Varroa Mite board into the Screened Bottom Board to aid in keeping track of a potential infection of Varroa Mites.

Picture 1: Inserting Varroa Mite Board into Screened Bottom Board

You may remember from a previous post that the Varroa Mite is the most serious parasite of the honey bee in North America. Colonies infested with Varroa Mites will result in a colony death in one to two years.

The Hive Body is used to keep the brood (young) of the honey bees and is typically the deepest box.  Some of the experienced beekeepers and commercial beekeepers will also use Hive Body boxes to store honey.

The nine and half-inch deep box will hold anywhere from 8 to 10 frames depending on the beekeepers preference. Hobbit King and I decided to start with nine frames. Our Bee Mentor said that 10 frames are  okay to use, but sometimes it is very hard to get the frames out when the box is packed closely together. He recommended we start with nine frames as eight frames the spacing of the frames is harder to control and the bees will fill the space in making it harder to keep the hive clean and keep the bees from filling the extra space in with comb.

We are starting with four hives. So, we built four hive bodies. Here is a picture (See Picture 2) of a finished Hive Body.

Picture 2: Hive Body constructed

The front and side pieces of pine are pre-cut by the manufacture, which is a major work savings. Notice the ones laying on the table waiting to be joined. The yellow pails in the background will be the feeders that we will use next year at this time to help the bees if their honey stores become too low or winter lasts longer than the honey stores will cover.

Picture 3: Beginning Super construction

The Super is the workhorse for the honey bee hive. It also can come in one of three sizes:

      • Medium Depth (Illinois or Dadant depth) -6 5/8 ins deep
        Use for honey super or brood chamber
      • Shallow Depth -5 11/16 ins deep
        Use for honey super
      • Comb Honey Super -4 11/16 ins deep
        Use for section comb honey


We decided to start with Shallow Depth Supers. We have four we will use first, one for each hive for the purpose of gathering and storing honey for the honey bees personal use. We will not use the first super for our use. This next winter, the bees will need 40 to 60 pounds of honey to make it through the winter and one super will hold approximately 60 pounds. We have four additional supers to add later in the year if it turns out our bees are very productive. With an additional super added to each hive, we’ll be able to use the second super to gather honey for our personal use.

Super construction continued

Picture 4: Grand Dog checking out our work

The Inner Cover provides protection from weather and aids in ventilation. The Top or Outer Cover is of course designed to give most protection from the rain, snow, and wind, as well as provide support to the hive body structure, just like a roof does to a house.

Picture 5: Inner Cover sitting on Hive Body


Picture 6: Outer Cover sitting on Inner Cover on top of Hive Body

Well, as I said, we are on a roll getting the hives built. Next blog I’ll share about the frames, the foundation, and other inner components of the hive. After all of the hives are built, we will paint the outer surfaces of the hive to help prolong the live of the wood and protect the hive from the weather.

Hope you are having a wonderful February and you are looking forward to spring as much as we are here. Spring is around the corner and our bee nucs will be here  before we know it. Nucs are small lightweight wooden boxes that hold up to five frames and are used to transport bees to new hives. They are also used  as a means a bee swarm trap or for housing bees when a hive is split, for queen production or mating and more. We will be getting four nucs from our Bee Mentor sometime in late April.

Until next time, visit and read my earlier blogs if you haven’t already so you can learn along with us. Share your thoughts, questions, comments, experiences. Share this blog with your friends and help build interest in the wonderful world of bees. And, if you like what you are reading, be sure to vote by selecting the level of “Like” for this post!

Honey Cheers to You!

Hobbit Queen


  1. […] from many of you that my prior posts have been helpful. I do have several people who use the Hive Building 101 blog post as a reference to teach […]


  2. Excellent post. I’ve made a few hives over the years and I know the work involved.


    • Thank you so much! We learned a lot about building hives and there are some things we’d do differently starting over, like maybe not worry about decorating them. But, I did have loads of fun doing it.


  3. your good


    • Thanks Kyle…Hope you enjoy reading more!
      Hobbit Queen


  4. Hey, will you two come down and organize my garage with its tools? Everything looks spectacular, can’t wait to get some Hobbits Bend honey…


    • Hey There Ms. Gail. THANK YOU for your kind words. I do believe a trip down south is in order. We’d love to visit and catch up on organizing that garage! 🙂 Thanks for reading! Keep on returning and tell your friends! Have an awesome rest of the week!


  5. I love the grand dog looking at your work. He is the inspector of the project. Great photos too!


    • Thanks loads…Sir Myloh looks rather cute! It is so much fun watching the hives take shape. Can’t wait until we get the frames with the foundation inserts ready for the little bees. Have a great day tomorrow!


  6. How exciting to actually start building your bee hives. Moving into action is such a relief after all the learning and theory. Your Bee Mentor seems to be a clever and knowledgeable fellow too.

    I’m looking forward to watching your bee hive “farm” grow and the step-by-step recounting of it. I do enjoy your blog, HQ 🙂

    Wizards and Ogres and Elves…oh my!
    News, Views, and Gurus


    • Thanks so much Sandra…It is finally starting to move forward. So much fun! Take care and Stay Warm!


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