How To Assemble A Langstroth Beehive
Excerpted from: BeeKeepClub
Reverend L. L. Langstroth
Beehives are available to beekeepers in various designs, and perhaps the most popular design
is the Langstroth beehive. Beehive manufacturers sell most beehives unassembled.
This makes it necessary for beekeepers to know how to assemble a Langstroth beehive.
To assemble a Langstroth beehive, you first require prior knowledge of how the hive is built. Beehives
use wood, typically pine or Western red cedar, as their primary material. The boxes and movable frames are made of
wood that is easy for bees to take to. The wood should not have any knots that could lead to cracks
in the beehive structure.
Langstroth beehives are loved by beekeepers because they are economical. They are well priced due
to being prolific in the beekeeping industry. The space available in a Langstroth beehive gives you
excellent honey yields per volume. Langstroth beehives are also loved due to their durability. They
keep providing adequate space for honey bees in your apiary for years.
In 1851, Reverend L. L. Langstroth invented a better beehive and changed beekeeping
forever. The Langstroth Hive was built on a foundation of methods and designs developed over millennia.
Due to its use of wood, you may apply preservation techniques to your beehive before or after
assembly. Treating the wood of a Langstroth beehive preserves it in pristine condition without
rotting or weakening at the joints. Tung oil is used to provide a layer of weatherproofing
for Langstroth beehives. Beekeepers may prefer to paint their Langstroth beehive with a favorite color.
A coat or two of primer should be applied to your beehive before painting it.
It’s a good idea to use of glue in addition to nails and screws. And though doing so isn’t mandatory,
supplementing fasteners with weatherproof yellow carpenter’s glue surely makes your
hives and equipment as strong and long-lasting as possible
For best results, before using your fasteners, wipe or brush a thin, even coat on both surfaces of the
joint. Don’t goop it on so much that it oozes out of the joint when the pieces come together. Work fairly
quickly, as the glue will start to set up in a few minutes.
The frame should be nailed immediately after gluing. A total of ten 1¼-inch frame nails will be nailed
into the frame. Four on the bottom, four on the top and one nail into each side of the frame.
Once it is assembled, a Langstroth beehive is expandable and interchangeable. To add more
space, you only need to stack additional brood or super boxes. More brood boxes in your
assembled Langstroth beehive increase space for honey bees to raise their young. Adding
super boxes to a beehive gives bees more space to store honey that you later harvest. Langstroth
beehives have a standard of construction with laid out dimensions. The parts may thus fit into
any other hive you may have.
Langstroth beehives have a few weaknesses despite their popularity. They can get heavy especially
when full of honey and a colony of bees. Lifting boxes during hive inspection and honey harvesting
can get tiresome for beekeepers. Of the 3 most common beehive designs, the Langstroth beehive
presents the most problems with weight. This comes to the fore when you need to inspect brood
boxes and have to lift off all super boxes twice — once while removing them to reach the
brood boxes and once returning them on top of your Langstroth beehive brood boxes.
Should I paint my Langstroth beehive?
If you have pine boxes we think the answer is “yes — paint your hives.”
Your beehives are exposed to the elements year round. The primary reason to paint the
hive box exteriors is to protect them. You’ve invested a fair amount of money and time into
these hives so you’ll want them to last as long as possible.
If you went for cedar boxes, which are more expensive, then I would not paint them. Cedar
stands up to the elements much better than pine. Applying tung oil will give cedar boxes
a beautiful natural look while providing water resistance to preserve the wood.
What Color Paint? Honey bees are not picky about the color of their hives. As long
as there is no paint on the inside, your bees will be fine. In Wisconsin, it’s nice to have a color
that will absorb heat, such as green or brown. But if your hives are not in the sun, the outside
color won’t have much of an effect on the inside temperature.
It is important to note that Langstroth beehives rest on a stand. Beekeepers use various stands
to hold up the hive. These stands have features suitable to each beekeeper including ability to hold
frames and elevating the beehive from the reach of predators. A hive stand also prevents moisture
from seeping into the beehive which would happen with the beehive sitting on the ground. Durable
stands for Langstroth beehives mostly feature plastic and metallic materials.
Sitting on the stand is usually the bottom board. It makes up the floor of the Langstroth beehive.
The bottom board can be either solid or screened. Screened bottom boards may allow you to
check for pests easily without having to carry out a hive inspection that involves opening up the
hive. It additionally facilitates better aeration of the beehive. A screened bottom board may be
taken out and replaced with a solid bottom board in winter. This is because a solid bottom board
enabled better heat retention in the hive. A solid bottom board prevents fire ants from gathering
under the assembled Langstroth beehive.
Entrance Reducer. Beekeepers have the option of using an entrance reducer in their
beehives. It is a piece of wood that reduces the amount of space available at the entrance of the
hive. An entrance reducer contributes to hive security and can be integrated in pest and disease
control. By giving bees less space to defend at the entrance, you free up workers and drones to
attend to other hive activities. Any intruder entering a hive with an entrance reducer is quickly
identified and easily dealt with by guard bees.
Once a bee is inside a Langstroth beehive, it finds itself in the brood boxes in most arrangements.
Deep brood boxes serve two functions in a Langstroth beehive: they hold the eggs and larvae of
honey bees and store some honey to be used as food in lean times. Deep brood boxes may be
larger than other boxes in the Langstroth beehive.
Large brood boxes give your bees more space to rear their young. Brood boxes used as food
storage for the colony should allow the queen access. If she is not allowed to reach the food, she
will die of starvation.
A queen excluder is a mesh used to allow the queen access to areas of the Langstroth beehive
and deny her access to others. A queen excluder allows drones and worker bees to go through
it, but not the queen bee. Beekeepers using a queen excluder should make sure that their worker
bees and drones can get through the queen excluder. If they cannot reach the super boxes, they
will not be able to store honey for you in your beehive super boxes.
Super beehive boxes come on top of brood boxes. A super box may be of medium depth, and is used
to collect honey for harvesting. Super boxes should have the queen prevented from reaching them
using a queen excluder. If the queen can access the honey supers, she will lay eggs in them and foul
up your honey harvest.
Coming on top of the super boxes is the inner cover. It provides just the right space on top of your
uppermost honey super box. The inner cover of a Langstroth beehive has the additional function
of providing an avenue for ventilation of the beehive. A bee escape device may be fitted onto the inner
cover’s ventilation hole to help beekeepers clear bees from their super box before harvesting honey.
Propolis. The inner cover of a Langstroth beehive may get attached to the uppermost super
box due to bees sealing crevices with propolis. If this happens, gently prying the inner cover with
your hive tool frees it from the super box.
Covering the whole assembly of a Langstroth beehive is a hive top cover. It is made to prevent direct
sunlight, rain water and other weather elements from entering the beehive. Langstroth beehive top
covers may be made of various materials including metal sheet. Beekeepers often favor the telescoping
design of the top cover due to the fact that it overlaps the inner cover and hangs down the edges of
your beehive. It clears water away from the beehive very well.
A very vital component of Langstroth beehives are the frames. Langstroth beehives are
typically configured to hold either 8 or 10 frames. The frames hold honeycomb for honeybees to
brood and store honey.
So, why would one choose a box with only 8 frames, when 10 frames boxes can be used? A fully-laden
10 frame deep box can weigh around 80 pounds! That's a lot of heavy-duty lifting. This one reason why
many prefer 8 frame hives - it's easier on the back!
Foundation. Within the confines of the frame we find the foundation. It's important to have a clear
distinction between foundation and comb. Foundation is the physical plane on which bees create their
own comb. We mention this because sometimes beekeepers refer to foundation, when they actually mean
the comb created by their bees.
Plants had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material.
Flying pollinators were nature's solution. Nectar is made as a reward for pollinators.
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about bees—our favorite essential pollinators
working around the world. This quiz is intended for fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
Spring begins and bees are hungry and on the wing looking for food. From
the moment emerge in spring to the time that they hibernate or migrate in the fall, pollinators
need to eat.