Different Types Of Beehives in Britain

types of beehives
photo credit: KrisFricke via photopin cc

Bee products are considered to be extremely beneficial for us and our body. Honey, bee pollen and royal jelly – all these have a huge variety of benefits for our health. They contain all the necessary nutrients such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Their biological value due to the high content of enzymes, amino acids, antibiotics, hormones etc. Many of these substances bees get from the plants, which in most cases are used in the alternative medicine for healing. Unlike the pharmaceutical preparations in which these plants are used as raw materials, healing substances in bees’ products are found in their natural form. Bee products, and more particularly honey, are a great (and really tasty) way to improve your healthy diet.

And we move on to beekeeping! Since ages beekeeping is popular all over the world. Beekeeping is a really fantastic way to start your own business and earn some extra money. Also, it is a great way to produce honey for you and your family. Beekeeping is easy, although it requires some basic equipment such as a honey extractor, a bee smoker and, of course, beehives!

There are plenty of different types of beehives. Some of them are a bit more expensive, but much easier to maintain. Others may require some more attention and care. So here is some further information on three of the most commonly used types of beehives:

British National Beehive

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Jordan
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Jordan
This is the first type in our list. The British National Hive is considered to be one of the most commonly used types of beehives in England.


  1. Affordable
  2. Easily assembled
  3. Extremely efficient


  1. In recent years there is a common conception that the brood box of this type of beehives is a bit smaller. A great solution for this is to operate your beehive with another brood box.

Langstroth BeeHive

Common Langstroth Hive used at kiwimana
Common Langstroth Hive used at kiwimana

This is another very popular type of beehives. Its history dates back to more than a century and a half and it is named after its designer – Rev L. L. Langstroth. The Langstroth Beehive is very popular for hobbyist and commercial use. Especially in New Zealand and North America.


  1. Easy maintenance;
  2. Simplified design;
  3. Ample space between brood chambers and supers;
  4. Removable frames, which make inspecting and dividing the bees much easier;
  5. This type of beehives can be reused.


  1. This type do not have some significant disadvantages. However, while doing your regular bee inspection, you may disturb the bees a bit more than if you are using another type of beehive. This is due to the design of this type.

Top-Bar Beehives

The TopBar Hive
Top-Bar Beehives are another popular type. They are very widely spread mainly because they are very simple to make. They will not cost you neither much money, nor some special efforts.


  1. Affordable
  2. It can be very easily located
  3. Significantly less disturbance during the bee inspection
  4. Contributes to the production of high quality honey


  1. Compared to the previous two types, Top-Bar Beehives produce more beeswax and significantly less honey
  2. After every inspection bees need to rebuild their combs
  3. Because of the open design of the beehive, the combs are constantly exposed to the weather conditions

What type of Beehive do you use and can you add anything to above?

12 thoughts on “Different Types Of Beehives in Britain

  1. Avatar photo
    Shelley says:

    I have horizontal hive with regular hoffman frames. It has the advantages of not having to lift heavy supers or disturb the bees as much but I prefer the regular frames. To me it has the best qualities of the top bar hive and the langstroth put together.

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Yes indeed Shelly, we talked about that on of last podcast. We met a guy that has built a fantastic bench hives.

      Yes I agree best of both worlds, we would love to hear more about your experiences with it. Did you want to do a guest blog post on them?

      Thanks for the feedback.

      See ya…Gary

  2. Avatar photo
    Nick Jordan says:

    The national in the picture looks like a WBC, I say this as the sides looks sloped rather than straight. The WBC has a outer layer within which the main hive brood and supers are contained so it’s a little too small for most beekeepers. It however looks really attractive and is the quintessential beehive shown in most nursery books. The link will direct you to a web site that has some useful pictures for all the main framed hives used in the UK, the most popular in the UK is the national as you state, it’s far easier to get nucs for this type of hive as generally packages are not common over here. However the hTBH and Warre hive are gaining popularity.


    Best regards

    • Avatar photo
      Adrian says:

      The one in the picture looks like a national, but has a pent roof (like a traditional wbc) This makes the roof useless as a hive-body stand during inspections.
      It is not a BS National as it has a deep brood box (14×12 frame) whereas the BS has an 8″ brood box. The National is distinguished by the rails, rather than the ‘slab sides’ of the commercial with similar dimensions to the Deep. The advantage of the rail, is very easy lifting, and the ability to have a long lug which makes frame manipulation very easy.
      The box names for this hive should be Super, Brood (8″ BS brood) and Deep (14×12). As opposed to deep brood, shallow brood and other variants.

      The lifts (outer covers) of a WBC can be angled (traditional), or straight (cheap and nasty), and in fact my father, who makes most of his own hive parts, has at least one National hive with traditional WBC type lifts. The added insulation defiantly makes a difference to the colony, but the downside is of course more complicated hive management – snegroving is fun! It looks like the hive has it’s pants down 😉


    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Jeavonna,

      Cheers for the comment and Happy New Year.

      Yep we start all our colonies off as single box, generally we have two full boxes and then use 3/4 for the honey supers.

      How are your bees getting on?


  3. Avatar photo
    Jim Baker says:

    I built 2 warre style hives this year but added frames. The bees seem to thrive in them. We will see what winter brings.

  4. Avatar photo
    Michael Jordan "The BEE Whisperer" says:

    I have three I like
    SUN HIVE is a cool conversation peace. expensive, but hand made.

    Slovenian hives are the best for the keeper and the bees. using old style keeping like book hives of old, but Slovenian hives have been around for ever.

    Turkish log or tube hives are the wave of the new era

  5. Avatar photo
    Laurence says:

    The three “disadvantages” you give for Top Bar hives are all wrong I’m afraid:

    1. Compared to the previous two types, Top-Bar Beehives produce more beeswax and significantly less honey;
    > a bit less yes but not a big issue unless you are a commercial honey farmer

    2. After every inspection bees need to rebuild their combs;
    > completely untrue – where did this come from?

    3. Because of the open design of the beehive, the combs are constantly exposed to the weather conditions.
    > agaiin, completely untrue

    great podcasts guys, but these “facts” are just plain wrong.


    • Avatar photo
      Adrian says:

      Agreed re TBH!
      Gary, there are many more than three types of hive commonly used in the UK. The National certainly very popular, the American Langstroth not so popular, with the commercial well ahead, and TBH have a small following apart from the Warre brigade, but not that many! As to the KTBH that you have shown, IMHO, this is one of the best of the TBH, but I think you will find it’s Canadian if memory serves me. The catenary hive may possibly be a better TBH, but much more difficult to make of course.

      In addition, comment on the National are not quite right either.
      Yes, we used to run brood & 1/2 or double brood. This was pre Deeps and TBH a pain, especially if you needed to find the queen!

      However a deep, some of which (mine) will take 12 14×12 is IMHO too big for struggling bees – 20 years ago and it would be different. They just fill them with honey, which reduces the brood space, negating their use!
      We have neurological issues with bees in the UK, probably due to Neonics. The bees do some crazy stuff!

      Running a dual colony with a Snelgrove board is fun though.

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