Do you use a hive stand in your bee yard? Bee hive stands are one of those pieces of beekeeping equipment that you don’t have to have. However, once you learn more about them you may find they are well worth the effort. Keeping your beehives on hive stands has many benefits. Some of the advantages of using them affect the beekeeper but their use may benefit your bees too!
What is a Beehive Stand?
A beehive hive stand is a structure that your hive sits on. The stand may be made of wood, plastic, metal or other materials.
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The main purpose of the hive stand is to raise your beehive entrance up off the ground. This is a bit different from the hive landing boards that you see in supply catalogs. Those sit under the hive and add more landing space but do not really lift the hive off the ground.
Beehive Stand Dimensions
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 hives or more.
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 the hive will fall if it shifts a bit one way or another.
For a one hive bee stand, a platform or base support of 24″ by 24″ is a good size for the standard Langstroth hive. 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.
Hive Stand Materials – Plastic vs Metal vs Wood
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.
Plastic, Metal or Wood serves well in making beehive stands. However, the stand must be sturdy.
A beehive full of honey and bees gets very heavy. Heaven forbid that your stand breaks causing the hive to topple over. Don’t underestimate the weight of full beehives.
How High Should a Hive Stand Be?
The ideal total height of your hive stand is subject to personal preference. 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 whole season a one time, 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.
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.
Do You Need a Hive Stand?
Honestly, yes you do need a hive stand for your beehives. I say this because the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. What type of stand should you use…that is up to you.
Do you have to use a hive stand? No. Bees have prospered in hives sitting on the ground for many years.
But, most beekeepers decide to buy a ready to use beehive stand or to build a hive stand for their bees. Commercial hive stand tend to be short. Beekeepers set them on cinder blocks to achieve the proper height.
Advantages of Using Hive Stands
- Makes hive inspections easier with less bending and lifting
- Protects wooden wear from rot
- Discourages ant problems
- Protect bees from predators – skunks
In addition to making inspections easier, raising wooden hive components off the ground helps them last longer. Elevated beehives have fewer problems with pest and predators such as skunks too!
How do You Make a Beehive Stand?
If you are constructing a DIY Hive stand from wood, there are many hive stand plans online to consider.
The most important factor is to use sturdy wood 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. Beekeeper 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 criss-cross 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.
If I was experiencing a problem with ants getting into my hive, I could place the metal legs into small pails of water or apply a trapping substance to small areas of the legs.
Level Your Beehives
Regardless of the material used to make your own hive 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 keep the area under the hive free of tall weeds or grasses. This becomes more important in areas with Small Hive Beetles.
Final Thoughts on Using Beehive Stands in Your Apiary
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.