The use of beehive stands in the apiary is a perfect example of something you don’t have to have. However, once you learn the advantages of keeping your beehives on hive stands – you will understand why so many beekeepers use them.
Every piece of beekeeping equipment should help you do a better job of managing your colonies. As an experienced beekeeper, I know the importance of sturdy hive stands of the correct height – they make a big impact.
Benefits of Beehive Stands
Using hive stands can benefit the overall health of your honey bee colonies in several ways.
- improve ventilation
- protect from pests
- reduce moisture
- easy access for beekeepers
Ventilation & Air Flow
Honey bees have a great system for keeping hive temperatures within safe ranges for brood rearing. Having the modern beehive on a hive stand helps air flow freely vs sitting on the solid ground.
Hive ventilation is important during all seasons of the year – not just during the hot summer temperatures.
Protect from Pests & Predators
When positioned on a elevated hive stand, your colonies have a bit of protection from several things. Keeping ants out of a beehive is a struggle for some beekeepers. If you use a hive stand – you have more options for creating a barrier.
Also, small animals such as skunks can be a nuisance in the apiary. With the hive raised up off the ground – those little fellows will not be able to eat your bees at night.
Too much moisture can be a problem inside the control environment of the beehive. With hives sitting on the ground, water entering the interior during rainy periods is a real risk.
The hive that is raised up off the wet ground is less likely to experience moisture problems – some of which contribute to disease.
If you are over a certain age (that differs for all of us), you will quickly learn the major advantage of using beehive stands in your apiary. Bending doesn’t get easier for most of us – and beekeeping boxes are heavy! Save your back.
Types of Hive Stands
You will find many different styles and sizes of hive stands. Some are designed to hold only 1 hive while others may provide support for 2 beehives or more. There are two options for procuring one:
- buy a commercial option
- build your own – DIY
Commercially available stands for your beehives are nice because they are ready to use. And, if you choose one from a reputable company – they should be strong enough to support your colony.
The disadvantage is that the good ones are rather expensive (another cost of beekeeping) and they also may not be at the height you desire.
If you make our own you can customize it to fit your circumstances and maybe even use some of the materials you already have on hand.
DIY Beehive Stand Ideas
The material you use for your hive stand depends to a degree on the look that you hope to achieve. If you put a lot of thought into your bee yard design, you may wish for an elaborate stand that matches the décor.
Or, perhaps you want a minimalist look that blends into the scenery. Metal stands provide strength without a lot of visual effect. For those of us out in the sticks – looks may not be a factor.
The most important factor is to use sturdy wood (or metal) and proper bracing to ensure stability. Homemade bee hive stands can be better than purchased ones if they are constructed well.
Wood Hive Stands
I choose to use treated wood when building my hive stands. Yes, I am just a bit concerned about chemicals in the wood – however, the bees rarely come into contact with the wood of the stand.
The constant heat and rain in my region would cause regular wood to fail quickly. Using treated wood with a water based sealer allow the stand to last for years.
DIY Cinder Block Hive Stands
One of the easier ways to make a hive stand is by using cinder blocks. Beekeepers use them alone or in combination with wood rails or metal rails.
Various methods of stacking the cinder blocks are used. The only rule is to make sure the stack is sturdy and not prone to tipping.
Four 8″ cinder blocks stacked in a crisscross pattern for stability gives you about 16″ of height. I add 2 small pieces of landscape timber to hold my hive in place without damaging my screened bottom board.
If you want to make things pretty, instead of cinder block – use decorative stone. Using any type of stone is fine as long as the stand is level when finished.
Metal Hive Stands from Upcycled Goods
Sometimes we beekeepers need to use our imagination. Any strong sturdy form can function as a hive stand. I recently used an old metal base from a Craftsman table saw for a portable hive stand. It works great and has a wide base to resist tipping.
Size & Height
It is easy to customize the specifics of your hive stand to fit your own needs. Just keep in mind that the best or prettiest structure is worthless unless it is stable and strong.
Hive Stand Dimensions
Size matters. It is important to ensure your hives can sit comfortable on the hive stand with a little extra space to spare. You do not want to worry that it will fall if it shifts a bit one way or another.
For a one hive, a platform or base support of 24″ by 24″ is a good size for a Langstroth hive of the proper dimensions. If you want to have 2 beehives sitting on one stand add more than 2 x that amount to the length.
In addition to sitting the 2 hives on the stand, you have to be able to get your hands in there to manipulate the boxes during hive inspections.
In fact, my 2 hive stands are wide enough for 3 hives. This is very useful because it gives me room to sit down my top and inner cover or even a super box when I am looking inside the hive.
Level Your Beehives
Regardless of the material used to make your own beehive stand, you must take the time to level it properly. Don’t “eye-ball it”.
Use a level and ensure that the stand sits level in all directions. This makes the stand very stable and less likely to tip when the soil becomes wet.
Most beekeepers put some type of barrier under the hive and keep the area free of tall weeds or grasses. This becomes more important in areas with Small Hive Beetles.
The ideal total height of your hive stand is subject to personal preference with 16″ – 18″ from entrance to ground being the norm.
How tall are you? How high can you comfortably reach? How many boxes do you intend to stack on the hive each year? If you remove honey supers after they are filled you may only need to reach about 3 boxes high.
If you wait to harvest the honey crop all at once, you may end up with 4 or 5 boxes stacked up. Those pictures you see of 8 honey boxes stacked up 6 feet tall are adorable. But, when they are heavy and full, getting them down is hazardous.
A beehive hive stand is a structure that your hive sits on. It may be made of wood, plastic, metal or other materials. The main purpose of the hive stand is to raise your beehive entrance up off the ground.
A stand for a beehive made of stacked cinderblocks is one of the easiest and more sturdy options. They are not expensive and will last for years.
Ideally, the top of the stand allows the hive entrance to be about 16-18″ off the ground. This measurement is not too high and not too low for most beekeepers.
Beekeepers have successful managed honey bee colonies for years without the use of hive stands. However, they do make beekeepers tasks much easier and provide a healthier location for the bees.
After choosing a good location for your beehives, setting them up properly is a smart thing to do. Using a sturdy hive stand of the proper height makes beekeeper tasks more enjoyable. As long as the stand is strong enough to hold your hives and level, the material and design is up to you.