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There are lots of different beehives, but really only 2 major types - moveable frame beehives  and top bar hives (for information about top bar hives, click here).

In the Western world, moveable frame beehives are the most common, but there are dozens of different designs. Generally the parts of each are not interchangeable, so you are best to pick one type of beehive and stick with it.

The most common designs of moveable frame beehives are
This meant that the frame could be lifted out without destroying the hive, and was truly revolutionary. Rev Langstroth is still considered the "Father of American Beekeeping."

All modern beehives are still based on the Langstroth Hive, and the Langstroth hive itself is still the most commonly used beehive today - especially in the United States. It is a simple hive in construction and easy to maintain and, especially if it is common in your area, is often a good choice.

Beehives - Choosing The Best Beehive

Langstroth beehive
Before the invention of the modern beehive, bees were kept in upturned baskets called skeps. When the honey was harvested the colony was destroyed and all the bees killed, which was obviously not good for either the bees or the beekeeper.

In the mid 19th century, Reverend LL Langstroth patented a 'moveable frame' beehive. This was based on the idea of 'bee space' - if the correct space is left between the frames, the bees will neither build comb in the space nor cement it shut with propolis.
The Langstroth Hive
The National Hive is a variant on the Langstroth, and is the most common hive in the UK. It has a much smaller brood box than the Langstroth.

Some beekeepers argue that it has too little brood area for the modern productive bee. Although you can overcome this by adding on another super to the brood box (known as a "brood and a half"), one drawback is that it makes it more difficult to locate the queen.

The supers are also smaller, and this has the advantage that they are much easier to handle when full of honey.
National beehive
The WBC Hive is the classic traditional beehive, named after its designer William Broughton Carr. Unlike the other moveable frame hives which are single walled, the WBC hive is double walled. The outer part is made up of pyramid sections, giving the WBC it's distinctive look.  The inner part is separate loose boxes which contain the frames.

Its main advantage is that it stays cool in summer and warm in winter. Also, because it is double walled, the supers themselves are thinner and so lighter to handle.

The Langstroth Hive

The National Hive
WBC beehive
The WBC Hive
The main problems with WBC hives are that they are a complicated design and cumbersome to work with. To get at the supers, all the outer sections have to be removed first, so in practical everyday terms they really are inferior to the other beehives.
The Commercial Hive, as the name suggests, is best suited to commercial beekeepers. It is very similar to the national hive, except that the frames are deeper and so hold more honey.

While this can be seen as an advantage, it does make them heavy and difficult to handle manually when they are full of honey. For this reason, hobbyist beekeepers tend to stick to the lighter, more manageable beehives.
Commercial beehive
The Commercial Hive
There are many other beehive designs based on the Langstroth hive. The Dedant is popular in France, the Smith common in Scotland, and too many others to mention have their regional followers.

Which one you choose will be influenced by a lot of factors, including price, materials, availability, and local conditions. A good general guide is stick to what is popular with local beekeepers in your area -  a beehive which works for them will likely be a good beehive for you too.
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The Langstroth Hive
The National Hive
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The National Hive

The WBC Hive

The Commercial Hive
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