Sneak Preview of the Hive-Making Manual!

Edit – The book is now available! Click here to see more!

This manual, case due to be released on September 1st, includes a wealth of information, from the parts of a hive, to the dimensions and schematics, to the history of various different types of hives – and it of course includes specific instructions on how to make a hive, and hand-drawn illustrations to supplement the instructions. This preview includes a short piece from the History chapter of the book, and gives some fascinating information about where our current hives originated. Read on!

“In 1682, Sir George Wheler published the book, A Journey into Greece. In it, he described a Greek hive—an inverted skep with 1 1/2” (38 mm) wide wooden bars across the top to which bees attached their comb.[1] The sloping sides of the basket reduced the bees’ tendency to attach the comb to the walls, allowing the removal of combs with minimal disruption to the colony. The beekeeper could manage colonies in a manner that was impossible with European skeps and log hives. He could even remove half the combs from one hive and make another colony.  No one knows how long these top bar hives had been used. Dr. Eva Crane, author of several books on the history of beekeeping, suggests Aristotle may have used this type of hive in his observations… [2]

“The nineteenth century saw numerous attempts to invent a practical bee hive. Edward Bevan’s book, The Honey-bee, its Natural History, Physiology and Management (1827), strongly influenced Langstroth. Bevan used a top bar hive that resembles the modern hive… [3]

“In the mid-1800s and unaware of each other’s work, Dr. John Dzierzon in Germany and Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth in the United States worked on designing moveable frames. While Dzierzon worked out a practical system of commercial beekeeping, his hives required removing frames from the end, one at a time.[4] Langstroth’s hive design differed from others in that four sided frames were suspended from above, similar to Bevan’s top bar hive. You could remove any of the frames without disturbing the others. Langstroth is credited with first noticing that if a 1/4” to 3/8” (5-9mm)[5] space is maintained between the hive parts, the bees wouldn’t fill the smaller gaps with propolis or fill larger spaces with honeycomb.

“Other hive makers copied Langstroth’s moveable frame hive by using the bee space with their own hive dimensions. By 1900, there were at least eight hive styles in use.[6] These hives are no longer used, not because they were inferior, but because Langstroth’s dimensions allowed for widespread interchangeability, striking a balance between the bees’ and the beekeeper’s needs.”

You can purchase the Hive-Making Manual by Peter Sieling by emailing or calling 607-566-8558.

[1] ABC and XYZ or Bee Culture A. I. root Company 1972 p. 344.

[2] The Hive and the Honey Bee. 1976 Dadant and Sons. p.8

[3] The Honey-bee; its Natural History, Physiology and Management. 1827.

[4] Dzierzon’s Rational Beekeeping. 1882

[5] The bee space isn’t a precise measurement. The actual space ranges from a scant 3/16″ to 3/8″. In converting to metric, I’ve rounded down to the nearest millimeter.

[6] A.I. Root. The ABC of Bee Culture. 1901 p.186.

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