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Hive Talking

Hive Talking

What hive is right for me ( and my bees )!?


Choosing a hive can be really confusing, especially for beekeeping beginners. There are so many hives to choose from!

B Kids have compared some of the most common hives used in the UK. We hope this will make choosing a bit easier! Remember, a swarm of bees will look for a home with a cavity of around 40 litres (a space a bit larger than a National brood box). 40 litres = 70,000 cells in the frames of honeycomb in the brood box. So, your best choice hive should be the size the bees would choose for themselves.

Psst! Look for the number of cells in each hive under the hive name …



Good points

Bad points


 50,000 cells

Easy to buy nuclei or bees on frames.

Popular in the U.K.


Encourages swarming.

 National brood and a half 

75,000 cells

Popular in the U.K.

22 frames to look through.

2 sizes of frames.

 National double brood

100,000 cells

 Good for very large colony.  22 frames to look through.


Difficult for bees to keep warm in winter.

 National 14×12

75,000 cells

 Good size for the colony.

Only 11 frames to look through!

 Heavy brood box.

Not yet popular but becoming so!


45,000 cells

Double walled hive.

Warm in winter.

Uses National frames.


Smallest hive.

Encourages swarming.

Two layers of hive to remove when inspecting.

Not easy to move.


61,400 cells

 Popular worldwide.  Not popular in the U.K.



85,000 cells

 Good for large colony.


Too large for average size colony.


50,000 cells

 Popular in Scotland. Small. 


70,500 cells

 Good size.

Uses National supers.


Small hand holes in boxes.

Short frame lugs.

 Top Bar

 Natural comb

Low cost.

‘Natural’ system.

Good for disabled.

Easy to work.

Difficult to feed bees.

Difficult to treat.

Cannot add supers.

Smaller honey crop.

Natural honeycombs cannot be spun.


75,000 cells

Two hives in one!

Space for 2 colonies.

Easy to inspect bees.

Good working height.

Small, light supers.

Takes National 14×12 frames.


Sometimes difficult to position in small apiary.




NOTE: You can now buy most vertical hives made of polystyrene instead of wood. These are cheaper, warmer for the bees and don’t need putting together!! Ask advice from experienced beekeepers and remember that not all hives and their parts will ‘fit together’ with each other, so once you decide upon your hive – stick to it! Happy hive hunting!