A manmade hive is built to imitate the space that bees leave between their honeycombs in nature. The dimensions are fairly standard and should be copied exactly if you decide to make you own beehives. The following equipment is used within a hive:
Bottom board: a wooden stand that the hive rests upon. Bottom boards can be set on bricks, concrete blocks, cinder blocks, or any stable base to keep the hive off the ground.
Hive body or brood super: a large wooden box that holds eight to ten frames of comb. In this space, the bees rear their brood and store honey for their own use. Up to three brood supers can be used for a brood nest.
Frames and foundation: frames hang inside each super or box on a specially cut ledge, called a rabbet. Frames keep the combs organized inside your hive and allow you to easily and safely inspect your bees. Frames hold thin sheets of beeswax foundation, which is embossed with the shapes of hexagonal cells. Foundations help bees to build straight combs.
Queen excluder: a frame made with wire mesh placed between the brood super and the honey super, sized so workers can move between the brood super and the honey super but keeps the queen in the brood super, so brooding will not occur in honey supers.
Honey supers: shallow boxes with frames of comb hanging in it for bees to store surplus honey. The honey supers hold the honey that is harvested from the hive.
Inner cover: placed on top of the honey super to prevent bees from attaching comb to the outer cover. It also provides insulating dead air space.
Outer cover: placed on top of the hive to provide weather protection.
The following equipment is personal gear:
Smoker: a beekeeper’s best friend. A smoker calms bees and reduces stinging. Pine straw, sawdust, chipped wood mulch, grass, and burlap make good smoker fuel.
Hive tool: looks like a small crowbar. It is ideally shaped for prying apart supers and frames.
Bee suit or jacket, veil, gloves, and gauntlet: this is all protective personal gear worn when working with bees.
Generally you need light-colored over-gear to keep your clothes clean and to create a barrier between you and the bees. Bees are not threatened by light colors, so the color of the suit makes a great difference as to whether the bees will attack or not.
Thin, plastic-coated canvas gloves, rather than the stiff, heavy leather commercial gloves, are supple and allow you more movement. Gauntlets are long cuffs that slid over your gloves to keep bees from climbing up your sleeves.
Ankle protection—elastic straps with hook-and-loop attachment to prevent bees from crawling up your pants leg.
Feeders—hold sugar syrup that is fed to bees in early spring and in fall.