Langstroth Hive Dimensions

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A standard in beekeeping, it is the Langstroth hive dimensions that make it special. Developed by Rev Lorenzo Langstroth in the mid 1800’s, this hive design revolutionized modern beekeeping. From frame construction to large buildings built to house equipment, measurements of a Langstroth (Lang) hive are considered in all areas of beekeeping.

Standard size Langstroth hives stacked in a bee yard image.

The introduction of the Langstroth hive changed just about everything about the way beekeepers managed their hives. Leading it to become the most popular piece of beekeeping equipment in use.

Dimensions of the Standard Langstroth Hive

The original measurements of the Langstroth hive have been honed a bit to try to get the very best plan. One of the key features of the Langstroth beehives is the ability to expand the hive easily.

By adding additional boxes, the beekeeper can increase the interior colony space. The beekeeper has the choice of using a standard 10 frame hive or the 8 frame hive and which boxes to use in the stack.

Deep hive body with dimensions image.

10 Frame Langstroth Hive Measurements

Most new hives begin with a purchased package of bees or maybe a captured swarm – installed in a basic setup. Bottom board, hive body, inner cover, and top.

*reference dimensions based on 3/4″ boards- manufacturer variances apply

  • External dimensions of a 10 frame hive box are 19 7/8” long and 16 1/4” wide. (varies by wood choice)
  • Internal dimensions of a 10 frame hive box are 18 3/8” long and 14 3/4” wide.

While all boxes on the 10 frame hive maintain the standard outside width and length, there are 3 different depths (or heights) of boxes.

  • deep box (hive body) 9 5/8″ height
  • medium (Illinois) 6 5/8″ height
  • shallow 5 11/16″ height

Measurements for 10 Frame Boxes

Langstroth bee boxes often called “supers”. Some beekeepers call a box a super regardless of the size (height) or purpose. Other’s only use the term for honey collection boxes.

Internal Measurements

Box – length – width – height

  • deep 14 3/4″ 18 3/8″ 9 5/8″
  • medium 14 3/4″ 18 3/8″ 6 5/8″
  • shallow 14 3/4″ 18 3/8″ 5 11/16″
Group of langstroth hives in field.

8 Frame Langstroth Hive Measurements

In recent years, 8 frame Langstroth hives have grown in popularity. They are cute, smaller and easier to life. These boxes are the same length (19 7/8″) but there are narrower (14″) and hold only 8 frames instead of 10.

*reference dimensions based on 3/4″ boards- manufacturer variances apply

  • External dimensions of an 8 frame box are19 7/8” long and 14” wide. (depending on wood choice)
  • Internal dimensions of an 8 frame box are 18 3/8” long and 12 1/2” wide.

Measurements for 8 Frame Boxes

The size of the boxes used for an 8 frame hive set up are the same length and width to allow them to stack together neatly.

Internal Measurements

Box – length – width – height

  • deep 12 1/2″ 18 3/8″ 9 5/8″
  • medium 12 1/2″ 18 3/8″ 6 5/8″
  • shallow 12 1/2″ 18 3/8″ 5 11/16″

Bottom Board Measurements

The bottom board of a hive comes in several styles. In addition to serving as a base, the bottom board serves another purpose. 

The side boards provide an entrance to the hive and therefore extends a couple of inches past the hive body – roughly 22″ total length. 

This enables the beekeeper to use standard entrance reducers when needed. When building your own beekeeping equipment, the sides of the bottom board should be the proper height – about 3/8”tall.

Wood Used for Hive Building

The type of wood used to construct beehives does vary a bit depending on what is available in your area. Pine is the most common wood with Cypress being another good choice.

For beekeepers who desire to build their own beehives, inside measurements are important. This ensures that purchased frames fit properly and are interchangeable with other hives.

Most beehive plans and measurements are set for a board that is 3/4″ thick. Using wood of a different thickness may throw off your measurements unless you make adjustments.

A ten frame hive body with self spacing frames image.

Self Spacing Langstroth Frames

Inside the modern hive, Hoffman-style self-spacing frames fit snuggly. These frames usually hold sheets of foundation (beeswax or plastic) to encourage the bees to produce straight comb.

The top bar of the frame is a bit longer than the internal dimension of the box it goes into. This is because the extra length allows it to sit on the rabbet or shelf that is cut into the wall to hold the frames.

Diagramed imaged of how to measure the dimensions of a langstroth frame.

Box – length – width – height

  • deep 19″ 1 1/16″ 9 1/8″
  • medium 19″ 1 1/16″ 6 1/4″
  • shallow 19″ 1 1/16″ 5 3/8″

When pushed together, the wider shoulders near the top bars are designed to give proper spacing between combs.

Having too much space between frames or between the frame and the outside of the box results in excess burr comb.

It can be scraped away but if the spacing is off, the bees will build it right back. If you assemble your own frames, be sure they are straight and square.

Importance of Standard Hive Equipment

Honey bees are known for their efficiency. We believe that is one reason bees use hexagonal cells in their comb – to get the most storage space.

For beekeepers, adhering to a type of beehive that uses standard measurements is a big bonus. While they may vary a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer, you can be relatively sure your Langstroth hive components will all fit together.

Knowing the size of your hives is a practical skill. No the bees don’t seem to care but it can make hive inspections easier for you. Need a hive stand? It’s good to know the approximate size of the footprint for your beehive.

The dimensions inside and outside the hive are important. When commercial beekeepers are designing buildings to house equipment or even full hives, they must take the size of the hives into consideration. 

Likewise, if you want to build a trailer to take a few hives to a special nectar or honey flow, you need to know how big they are.

Special Section Comb Supers

Beekeepers that produce comb sections use special containers with foundation. They can purchase a 4 ¾” deep box to hold the special compartments.

The exact arrangement depends on the comb systems. This is not the norm and most hobby beekeepers do not try to produce comb sections.

Final Thoughts

No matter the hive style you choose, it is good to understand the proper sizes of dimensions for each part of the hive. Even with horizontal beehivesWarre Hives, or others- compatible components are important. While slight differences exist between manufacturers. Thankfully, the difference is usually so small that no great harm is done.

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