Now that you have decided to become a beekeeper. Before you choose what type of honeybee you want to keep, it is time to choose a hive design that suits your beekeeping goals. There are many designs available, below we discuss an overview of some of the designs available. I give more information on expected hive costs in Introduction to beekeeping – (7) Financials.

in my Introduction to Beekeeping eBook and training course.


British Standard National Hive

All the frames in all the boxes are removable and are interchangeable with frames of the same box. This is a key decision when choosing your hive design, as different frame sizes or spacings from other hive designs will not fit. The exception is frames from a WBC which are interchangeable with a national and Vice versa.

This hive design has many positive design points and very few negatives.

Kenyan Top Bar Hive

Picking up in popularity with people who want to follow a more natural/balanced form of beekeeping, commonly known as a Top Bar, these hives were and still are suspended from tree branches in Africa. This is to prevent wild animals like Elephants pushing them over, we do not have wild Elephants in the U.K. so we use fixed stands or legs.

Top Bar hives house bees by keeping the bees in a form similar to the way the bees would live in the wild. The hive body is V shaped, sits on a stand or fixed legs, and has a series of removable bars that sit tightly next to each other on top of the hive body so the bees cannot pass through into the lid area.

W.B.C Hive

Known as a WBC. For those who have read my history of beekeeping, you know that an Englishman invented this design called William Broughton Carr (WBC). The design is a quintessential beehive design that most people conjure up when they think of beehives in the U.K.

The WBC is in effect a national hive system inside of an outer slatted weatherproof cover, although the number of frames are reduced from twelve down to ten. Productivity and temperament matches that of a national.

Langstroth Hive

Is the American version of the British National hive, albeit with different dimensions as the frames are larger than the national. My history of beekeeping informs that the Reverend LL Langstroth designed and invented this hive, affectionately regarded as the father of American beekeeping.

Warre Hive

Designed and invented by Abère Warre, this hive utilises bars the same as the Kenyan Top Bar hive with a slight difference. We fix the bars permanently into place into a box that can be moved in a way similar to a national. The boxes stacked in effect, making this hive a vertical Top Bar hive.


Is a modern design manufactured by a company called Omlet. They make the hive from plastic and it holds twenty-two wooden frames horizontally. They add honey supers to the top in modular partitioned housing that make them easy to handle. Designed for the home garden or rooftop beekeeper, I think they look amazing.

Flow Hive

You insert a long key through the top of the flow mechanism that when turned causes the special frames on the inside to split or fracture. This fracture causes the honey to run or flow to the bottom of the chamber where it leaves the hive via a tube and a tap. Once the flow has stopped turn the key back and the frames realign, this allows the bees to fill the cells up again. All done without opening the hive, or using separate extraction equipment.