Master Beekeeping Basics
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Woodenware: Understand Your Bees’ Home

Lesson 5

Woodenware is one of the more complicated aspects of beekeeping simply because there are so many pieces and parts along with just as many variations of each. With so many different pieces and parts, how do you figure out what woodenware you actually need when you’re starting out? In this lesson, you’ll become a master of the different pieces of woodenware that you'll need as a beginning beekeeper. You’ll also discover different types of beehives and our recommended woodenware setup.

Woodenware is a term used to collectively describe where your bees will live. Some of the most common terms you’ll hear associated with woodenware include:

  • Hive bodies (deeps)
  • Supers
  • Frames (hive body & super sizes)
  • Foundation
  • Tops & bottoms

You can get really complicated with various woodenware items like telescoping lids, inner covers, entrance reducers, etc. but we’ll stick with the basics in this course.

The gist of woodenware is that it's the home you're providing for your bees.

What Are The Different Types of Beehives?

There are dozens of different types of beehives you could choose to use for your beekeeping. However, here are the 3 most common types used by backyard beekeepers (Source):

  • Langstroth
  • Top Bar
  • Warre

Depending on which hive type you choose, your woodenware will have a different setup.

While you can pick any number of assorted items and combinations, we’re going to outline the things you need to setup one full Langstroth hive. 

Langstroth hives are seen as the industry gold standard for woodenware and represent the vast majority of hives across the US. Simply put, they are by far the most popular beehives to use.

What Woodenware Items Do I Absolutely Have to Have?

The table below outlines the basics of what you need to have in order to establish one full Langstroth hive. This is what you'll need to have at a bare minimum. 

*Note: prices below are for unassembled and unpainted woodenware. If you’d rather have your woodenware assembled and/or painted for you, make sure to factor in the additional cost.

Item

Price

Qty.

Cost

Hive Body

$23.00

2

$46.00

Super

$21.00

2

$42.00

Hive Body Frame

$1.50

20

$30.00

Hive Body Foundation

$2.19

20

$43.80

Super Frame

$1.20

20

$24.00

Super Foundation

$1.99

20

$39.80

Hive Top

$19.00

1

$19.00

Hive Bottom

$19.00

1

$19.00

TOTAL COST

$263.60

To get fully outfitted with one Langstroth hive, you should expect to spend between $250-$300 on woodenware

As you can see, woodenware is one of the more expensive parts of being a beekeeper. Your woodenware can constitute more than 50% of the costs you have in any given year. 

It’s a sizable investment so make sure that you get the right equipment up front.

Why We Recommend This Setup

Certainly what we’ve outlined above is not the only woodenware setup you could choose. 

However, we feel that this is the best woodenware combo for both new and experienced beekeepers. Here’s why:

  • You need to leave 2 hive bodies full of honey for your bees during the winter. For full details on this, take a look at our Hive Wintering Course.
  • Honey is incredibly heavy in large quantities. It’s much easier to extract from supers than from hive bodies, so we recommend using 2 supers on top instead of hive bodies.
  • To accommodate the different box sizes, you also need to get frames to fit. We recommend 20 of each frame size with its accompanying foundation to provide that accommodation.
  • Tops and bottoms are essential parts of any hive, so make sure you get one of each.

Can I Buy Budget (Cheap) Woodenware To Save Money?

Because woodenware is expensive, it’s tempting to want to purchase budget woodenware (much lower quality wood).

The problem with budget woodenware is that it doesn’t last very long, so you’ll always be replacing pieces and parts (or everything). 

This almost always ends up being more expensive in the long run than buying good, solid woodenware beforehand. 

At Bear County Bees, we specifically do not sell budget supplies because we feel that doing so is not being fair to our beekeepers. It wouldn’t be fair of us to sell products that have to constantly be replaced just so that we can make more money. 

Instead, we focus on only selling high-quality products that produce the best bang for the buck. We want your equipment to last.

Our Recommendation

At Bear Country Bees, we use exclusively the Langstroth hives for a few key reasons:

  1. They are the most widely available and adaptable of all of the types of beehives. You can do more with these hives, more easily, and for less money.  They are also much easier to move and palletize than other hives.
  2. Langstroth hives are far easier to clean than most other types of beehives*. Cleaning your hives is a crucial part of keeping your bees healthy and the ease of cleaning can literally save you hours of time.
  3. Most experienced beekeepers are far more familiar with Langstroth hives than any other type of beehive. When you ask another beekeeper for help or advice, you'll likely be talking to someone who uses a Langstroth hive.

Note: we’re working on a course to show you how to clean your hives for the best hygiene. If you want to get notified when we release this course, sign up for our newsletter here.

Wrap-Up

Woodenware can get complicated especially with all of the different types of hives, parts, and accessories available. 

In this lesson, we covered what you absolutely need to have for one full Langstroth hive. We’ll be covering other types of hives more in-depth on our blog in the future. 

This wraps up the lesson on woodenware! The last lesson recaps everything we've learned and has resources to help you make sure you’ve got all the right pieces in place.

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