Best Bee Hive Setup: 9 Beehive Boxes, Reviewed
Before you rush off and buy a beehive with a feature list a mile long, you should know what you’re actually getting into.
Do your bees really need an entrance reducer? Is that plastic safe for their honey?
We’ve round-up the nine best beehive boxes and crowned one beehive as the top choice because of its premium build, features, and of course, it keeps your bees buzzing happily.
- 9 Best Beehive Boxes For Your Home Beekeeping
- Buying The Best Beehive For Your Needs: Things You Need to Consider
9 Best Beehive Boxes For Your Home Beekeeping
If you are new to beekepping, looking at dozens of items that just list the features doesn’t make the process any easier. To help you make the right buying decision, we’ve reviewed the options, compared their features, costs, and user reviews, and dialed in on the best beehives available.
Keen to learn more about these beehives? Read our unbiased reviews below starting with our Best Overall pick from Hoover Hives.
The best beehive award goes to Hoover Hives 10 Frame Beehive. It has the same features as the smaller Hoover Hives 8 Frame Beehive in a larger construction.
It offers the same high-quality beeswax dipped treated pinewood construction and careful finishing that ensures a solid, long-lasting hive. You can even assembly this beehive box with minimal time, effort, and tools.
The craftsmanship gives this Langstroth hive an attractive appearance, and the combination of beeswax coating and pinewood offers the bonus of a pleasant scent.
Like the smaller Hoover Hive model, this hive comes with everything you need to support your bee colony, but in a form factor that allows you to keep a larger amount of bees and harvest a few additional frames of honey.
If you like the all-natural, high-quality build offered by the smaller Hoover Hives option but are looking for a little more space for your bees and their honey, this is the hive for you. It’s the perfect all-around option for beekeepers of all skill levels.
If you are a beginner and have a small colony, the CO-Z Beehive has everything you need to jumpstart your backyard beekeeping.
While the hive is not pre-assembled, the quality cedar wood exterior and pinewood frames offer protection against decay and rot, even without applying a weatherproofing treatment. It also minimizes moisture build-up within the hive thanks to its venting between the brood box and the super.
Additional super boxes can be purchased individually from the same manufacturer to increase honey output without worrying about size compatibility.
If you are just starting with beekeeping and would like a smaller hive to expand for increased honey output, this starter beehive kit is a perfect option.
The Little Giant Beehive is our choice for the best budget option. Not only does it include everything you need to establish your hive, but it also comes pre-assembled, so you don’t have to worry about the financial or time costs of putting it together.
You won’t just get the basics with this hive; you’ll also get a few extras to help you protect your bees and keep them happy, like an entrance reducer and mite grid. Overall, the quality and perks of this hive make it a great value.
If you’re looking for a great value without a huge cost attached, the Little Giant Beehive is the one for you.
Coming in at almost twice the cost of our top pick, the Apimaye Beehive is the most premium choice. But its expensive price tag doesn’t mean that it’s not a great value.
It’s the only beehive option in our list with built-in insulation. This feature protects the beehive from moisture build-up or cracking in cold weather. You also don’t have to worry about the plastic degrading during heat waves and compromising your honey quality.
The higher price tag also comes with a lot of conveniences and all the add ons. The hive comes fully-assembled and weatherproofed. All you need to do is pick your location and set it up to start keeping bees.
Each piece attaches securely with a latch system, so you can even expand your setup without risking your hive.
Along with the basics you need for beekeeping, it also includes a built-in entrance reducer, a queen excluder, and a screened bottom board with a built-in slide-out pollen trap and bottom drawer against varroa mites and small hive beetles.
If you have the money to spend and don’t mind using plastic, you can’t miss this premium beehive. It’s a great choice for beekeepers of all skill levels and has all the premium features to keep your bees living in luxury.
The Hoover Hives 8 Frame Beehive, a Langstroth type of beehive, uses treated pinewood to keep your beehive box standing even in extreme weather conditions. Its all-natural beeswax went through a rigorous dipping process to create an impenetrable seal in the dovetail joints. Your bees will also appreciate the extra wax coating because the scent is like a handy map that guides them back to the beehive.
This beehive kit comes with everything you need to get started, including two deep brood boxes, a medium super box, a telescoping metal top cover, a wax-coated inner cover, and a food-grade plastic queen excluder.
This beehive box is perfectly suited for anyone looking for an all-natural solution to manage a small to mid-sized hive.
If you’re expanding your colony, the Mann Lake Beehive is perfectly sized for a mid-sized colony of up to 30,000 bees. It is even pre-assembled so that you can have your backyard beekeeping beehive ready out of the box. Plus, it includes everything you need to get started.
How about its features?
The untreated pine construction is ready to use in warmer climates. For colder areas, you can weatherproof it by applying oil-based paint or beeswax.
There’s also a built-in entrance reducer offers your bees additional protection from invaders and weather without the need for an additional purchase or installation.
If you’d like an all-natural hive that doesn’t require any time or tools to set up, this is a great option.
With 30 beehive frames, the VIVOHOME Beehive is the largest option on our list. While the large size allows you to keep a big colony, you will also need a fair bit of space to accommodate the hive and its super (not to mention the amount of honey you’ll be harvesting!)
The hive comes unassembled but can be put together in as little as ten minutes with little know-how or equipment. The cedarwood outer box offers durability even without additional weatherproofing and makes for an attractive hive.
Despite its overall simplicity, the hive is not without a few useful additions, including an entrance reducer.
This hive box’s large size makes it best suited for intermediate or advanced beekeepers with sizable established colonies or those looking for a significant honey harvest.
The BeeCastle Beehive is another great all-in-one option. It even includes a few premium features like an Entrance Reducer to get you started on the right foot.
It comes unassembled but fully treated and weatherproofed with a thick layer of all-natural beeswax over the box’s components, including the bottom board. The hive is easy and quick to assemble and even includes the nails you’ll need to put together.
The design and features are similar to the Hoover Hives but offered at a considerably lower price, making this a budget-friendly alternative, even with the entrance reducer’s inclusion.
Looking for a natural beehive made with quality materials at a lower price point? This BeeHive model is the hive for you.
The NuBee Beehive is another Langstroth beehive and all-around great starter beehive kit that includes two mid-size brood boxes and one super, all made from pine.
Assembly requires minimal time and effort thanks to the sturdy dovetail joints and inclusions of nails. The only real-time investment involved in assembling this hive is adding a coat of wax or oil-based paint to the exterior for harsh weather protection.
If you are looking for a Langstroth hive box that covers all the basics without a bunch of added features, this hive from NuBee is a great option for you.
Buying The Best Beehive For Your Needs: Things You Need to Consider
There’s so much to consider when picking the best beehive to suit your needs. We’ve compiled this helpful buying guide to shed some light on the various types and features, as well as the pros and cons of each option, to help you make a truly informed decision.
Number of Frames And Brood Boxes
Brood boxes are where your honey bees will create their home and where the queen will lay her eggs. The number of frames and brood boxes you will need will vary depending on the size of your bee colony.
For small to mid-sized colonies, you’ll only need one brood box. For a large bee colony, you’ll want to split it across two brood boxes. Take roughly half of the frames from the parent hive and transfer them into the secondary brood box.
The brood box should face the opposite direction of the parent hive. Gently shake the bees from the transplanted frames into the new box to split the hive.
An exception to this can be found in the VIVOHOME Beehive, which is large enough to fit a big colony in a single brooder.
Need a visual on splitting your hive? This video is a great resource:
Another critical component of a beehive box is the frames – it’s where bees will create their honeycomb. They come in different forms depending on the type of hive box you have. Ideally, you need between 8 and 10 frames per box to allow your bees plenty of room for their honeycomb.
If you keep bees for honey, you might think that adding more hive boxes or frames will increase your bees’ output, but what you’ll actually want to do is add supers. Supers are boxes that stack on top of the brood box to give your bees room to store excess honey.
Adding supers will encourage your bees to produce more honey, but you’ll also need enough bees in your hive to fill the supers. You can purchase additional Supers for the CO-Z Beehive to increase your honey harvest, but don’t add supers to an underdeveloped hive and expect them to fill up!
The foundation is a layer of plastic or wax within a frame. It provides a surface for the bees to begin building their honeycomb (1). The foundation usually includes a hexagonal molding to aid bees in forming a straight honeycomb.
In nature, bees have the freedom to build their honeycomb in whatever way best serves the colony.
In a man-made container, such as a hive box, bees may create honeycomb in unintended areas.
This can make it nearly impossible to maintain your hive and can result in a destroyed honeycomb and dead bees. This is why many beehives like the Hoover Hives 10 Frame Beehive have foundations.
If you prefer to take a more natural approach to beekeeping, you may opt to use a foundation made of beeswax or no foundation at all. The foundationless system is generally best left to more experienced beekeepers due to the risks mentioned above.
Material And Location
Majority of bee hive boxes for sale are made with either wood or plastic. Wood has been the material of preference for beekeepers for many years, but plastic has its benefits.
Wood is a better choice for beekeepers who prefer an all-natural or organic option. It’s also great for longevity as it can withstand cold temperatures and moisture, in addition to being easily maintained and repaired.
Honeybees are more likely to take to a wooden hive as the material resembles where they would establish their hives in nature.
On the other hand, plastic hives are affordable and usually come pre-assembled, making them an approachable option for inexperienced beekeepers. But immediate replacement is necessary if they wrap or crack. If you’re just getting into beekeeping, you might find our review of the best beekeeping starter kits and best beekeeping suits useful!
Weatherproofing is an important factor when selecting the material for your hive box. If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to use a plastic hive without concerns about cold weather degradation.
But you’ll also have to be mindful of heat warping the plastic or introducing small amounts of plastics to your honey, making it unfit for human consumption. If you’d like to get a plastic hive without all of the concerns, the Apimaye Beehive is the perfect option.
Wooden hives can be used effectively in all climates, with wrapping added for additional warmth if needed in extreme cold. You can also easily waterproof a wooden beehive to discourage warping with a coat of oil-based paint on the exterior.
Distance From A House
Regardless of your choice of materials, you’ll need to be mindful of where you choose to establish your beehive. Bees can be quite particular about where they make their homes, and the wrong placement can make it nearly impossible to establish a hive. You’ll also want to avoid placing your hive in an area that will cause disturbances to yourself or your bees (2).
“Make sure your space has a clear flight path for the bees so that you don’t interrupt their ability to thrive.”
Ideally, your beehive should be placed at least 10 to 20 feet from your home to allow your bees to explore their full flight path without them buzzing around your home. If you live in a suburban area, make sure your hives are also placed at least 20 feet from the property line or fence to keep your bees from disturbing your neighbors in their daily foraging and activities.
We’ve covered all the basics, but there are still some other features you may want for your beehive.
Most hives on the market will include a queen excluder, a barrier that sits inside the beehive allowing for free movement among the worker bees but restricts the travel of the larger queens and drones.
It can be a helpful tool to control your hive population and make it easier for a beekeeper to manage. If you choose to use a queen excluder in your hive, make sure your bees do not start building honeycombs on the barrier. Also, keep an eye out for drones who may try to get through the barrier and get stuck.
A mouse-guard is similar to a queen excluder. But it sits on the outside of the hive over the entrance. The guard is usually made of a metal mesh with holes large enough to allow bees to pass through while preventing mice, squirrels, and other small predators from entering and disrupting your hive (3). The metal also ensures that animals will not chew through the guard.
“Know what predators (man or beast) are in your area and what protection your bees will need.”
An entrance reducer may sound similar to the mouse guard, but rather than just restricting the hive entrance, it reduces the entrance’s size – as the name suggests. They are typically made of wood, metal, or plastic. They can help protect your hive from invading bees, yellow jackets, and small mammals, as well as providing a small amount of weatherproofing by limiting drafts and keeping out snow and rain.
A telescoping hive cover is the equivalent of a roof for your beehive (4). It helps keep the weather and elements out of your hive. These hive covers are generally made from metal and placed over the top of your hive’s inner cover and will protect the top and sides of your hive, providing an additional layer of durability.
You may want to look into a top bar hive. It’s the oldest type of beehive in the world. Top-bar hives are frameless and usually consist of 20-28 bars on top. Compared to a langstroth hive, you can’t add more hives with a top bar hive.
You can attract bees by adding bait to a hive box at the start of swarm season. For most of the United States, swarm season will align with spring, but it may begin earlier in warmer climates.
To bait bees, use a frame from an existing hive or try adding a swarm lure. You can purchase manufactured swarm lures for best results or use lemongrass essential oil as a natural alternative. Measure a tablespoon of your chosen lure and apply it to the back of your hive box to lure the bees inside.
You’ll need between 100 to 200 bees to start a hive in a compact space. If you’re working with a larger hive, you’ll need to increase the number of bees accordingly. It may seem like a high number, but keep in mind, an established wild beehive may have anywhere between 10,000 to 60,000 bees, or even more, depending on the size.
You should place your beehives in an area that is hit with the early morning sun to encourage your bees to leave the hive early and begin foraging. However, remember that the amount of sun or shade your hive will need depends on the climate in your area. For warmer climates, set the hive in an area that receives shade in the afternoon. For cooler temperatures, you will need to place the hive in full sun.
A water source should be within a mile of the beehive. If you live in a suburban area, it should be close. Not only are you unlikely to have a mile of space in your yard if you live in a town or city, but you also need to be mindful of how your hive may affect your neighbors. You don’t want your bees to make the neighbors’ outdoor pool or backyard fountain into their water source, so you’ll want to provide something closer.
You should insulate your beehives if you live in a cooler climate, like that found in the northern hemisphere. Insulating your hives can help keep your bees safe and warm through the winter.
As the temperature begins to drop, you’ll want to wrap your hives using a product made specifically for insulating beehives, such as tar paper, styrofoam winter hive wraps, or a Bee Cozy Wrap. Never use plastic wrap (also known as cling wrap or saran wrap), and take care not to wrap your hive too tightly as you will suffocate your bees.
- Beekeeping 101: Where Should I Put My Hives?, Retrieved from: https://www.storey.com/article/beekeeping-hives/
- How to Get Started Beekeeping, Retrieved from: https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Started-Beekeeping
- Foundation or Foundationless Beekeeping?, Retrieved from: https://www.perfectbee.com/your-beehive/beehives-and-accessories/foundation-or-foundationless
- The Telescoping Hive Cover, Retrieved from: https://www.michiganbees.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Telescoping-Cover_20110321.pdf