Apiaries are a necessary element for successful beekeeping. Three different types of apiaries range from simple designs to more complex structures. All have advantages and disadvantages and choosing the best kind of bee apiary to get started comes down to the details.
The Langstroth's hive is the standard in modern beekeeping. It includes any modular beehive with vertically hung frames, a bottom board with a convenient entrance for the bees, and boxes containing frames for brood and honey. "Brood" is the term used for the honeybees developing larvae - baby bees in the making.The lowest box of the hive is for the queen to lay her eggs. The boxes above serve as a place for the honey to be stored.
Generally, a Langstroth's hive has an inner cover and top cap to provide weather protection. This setup is designed for maximum honey and is easy to transport from one location to another. Because this type of hive is the most common method for housing bees, the access to informative material and equipment is a real bonus for new beekeepers; however, the Langstroth's hive isn't without drawbacks.
Developed in Kenya in the early 1970s, the top bar hive design is fundamental and easy to build at home using plans from sites like BeginningBeeKeeper.com. If you want to skip out on the hefty price tag starts at around $200 and climbs from there.The essential body of the hive is a long trapezoid with bars laid over the top and a roof to cap it off.
The use of bars as opposed to frames, like the Langstroth, utilizes, means that the bees can build their comb the exact size they need instead of being limited only to the space provided in the frame. A definite plus to this type of hive is that it creates a reasonably natural environment for the bees. Its smaller size and lack of additional boxes mean that it's easy to maneuver. I'm perfectly capable of working my Top Bar hive without a veil, suit, or smoker since, for inspection or harvest, only a few bars at a time need to be removed. This means minimal disturbance for the bees, which equals less of a chance of getting stung.
When the colony grows too big, or a honey harvest is desired, the last few bars with a comb attached are carefully removed and replaced by empty bars. The comb is then crushed, and the honey is strained out and separated from the wax and other contents.
Warre hives are designed to mimic the shape of wild beehives. Vertical cavities in trees are some of the most popular sites for wild honey bees, and the Warre hive mimics this by combining factors from both the Langstroth's hive and the Top Bar. The body of a Warre hive is a stack of boxes, but unlike Langstroth's hives, the new boxes are added to the bottom of the pile and not the top.
As with the Top Bar, the honeycomb is drawn out on simple bars laid across the top. Putting the empty boxes on the bottom helps keep the brood lower in the hive and honey higher. This design feature also means that as winter progresses, the colony will move their kin up the hive following the honey stores. Bees can build the comb precisely as they like and move about the hive naturally.