Beehive Stand Usefulness
Have you noticed that honeybees, in a natural setting, build their hives high off the ground?
Honeybees consistently choose a swarm trap placed high off the ground over a swarm trap placed near the ground. Our certification requires that we keep hives at a minimum of 6” inches off the ground. The recommendation is 16” inches. We build our hive stands to be 18” inches off the ground. Why does elevation matter? That’s a great question and the answer might not be the same for each beekeeper.
In our geographical region, we have skunks. When given an opportunity, skunks will eat bees and their larvae. Scavengers are more likely to disturb beehives and cause havoc when hives are low to the ground. By pawing at the entrance, skunks are able to lure bees from their hive. Entrance reducers make it easier for skunks to feast since the reducer acts as a funnel and channels all the bees to one area for quick eating. When hives are properly elevated, skunks have less access to the hive entrance and lose interest. Furthermore, skunks must stand on their feet and expose themselves to stings when they try to reach a taller hive entrance.
Besides scavengers, another benefit of using a hive stand is the increased protection from ants and mice.
Healthy hives are free from stress. Why put your bees close to the ground where they may have to work tirelessly to keep ants and mice from entering the hive? In short, a properly elevated hive offers the guard bees more control to defend their hive.
Mold, inadequate ventilation, moisture, and termites are more reasons to have a hive stand.
Here at the ranch, it’s not uncommon for us to see 12” – 18” inches of total snow accumulation, and even more at higher elevations. While some beekeepers might use a top entrance for low-lying hives, this doesn’t necessarily solve moisture, mold, and fungus issues that can develop due to a lack of ventilation. We have seen heavy rain storms cause water and mud splashing up to 18” inches. Not only does the added height prolong the life of the hive components, but it also makes it easier for the bees to regulate humidity and evaporate excess moisture. Since our hive stands are made from wood, we use flat concrete stones as leg supports to control termites and prevent rotting.
From a beekeepers’ point of view, a hive stand makes managing the colony easier. Being that I’m 6’1”, I no longer have to significantly stoop to make hive inspections. Less stooping reduces the physical demand to add or remove hive boxes. Honey boxes can be extremely heavy, especially when having to maneuver from a deadlift position. And lastly, our hive stands are big enough to hold four hives with space between each hive. These types of hive stands make nice workstations by simplifying the work area. Tools and hive equipment are now within a reasonable distance for comfortable reachability.
Through trial and error, we have built a variety of hive stands and improved those designs for durability and ease of transporting.
From our perspective, there are few disadvantages of using hive stands. Besides the cost and time to build stands, the only disadvantage is the need to transport them if they are large in size. To remedy this problem, we designed our stands to be disassembled quickly for easier transport and maneuverability.
It could be argued that a tall hive stand could result with hard to reach boxes. High stacked bee boxes might be difficult to lift and inspect without a step-stool, but that is not a problem for us.
We don’t let our hives get that tall. We feel confident that a hive stand, when built properly, plays an equal part in the holistic hive management process. Knowing how to build one requires a balance of what is best for bees and what is safe and convenient for the beekeeper.
I hold a Master of Science degree in Education. And while I can be a bit of an isolationist, I do believe in sharing knowledge and encouraging people to live quality lives. When not working on the ranch, I enjoy RVing, hiking, woodworking, organic farming, and traveling. My passion is self-sustainability, rural living, and being in nature.