Doug and Katia Vincent run the beekind boutiques in San Francisco and Sebastapol, a quaint California town located about 50 minutes north of the city. Their store specializes in honeybee products, including honey, candles, beauty care products, bee hive plans, and starter kits.
In this insightful video demonstration, the Vincents visit Torrey Olsen’s apple and pear orchard at Gabriel Farm in Sonoma County, California, to show how anyone can build their own bee hive. In 2008, the FruitGuys Farm Steward program donated $1,400 worth of bees and equipment to Olsen’s farm to support his local ecosystem—that’s about 48,000 bees!
Starting with a screen bottom board—which provides better ventilation, as well as a way for excess debris and mites to fall out of the hive—a basic hive body is created by placing a wooden box (also known as a ten frame box) on top of the board. Next, eight frames and two boards (or “dummy frames”) are inserted inside the box so that bees can build a comb foundation. The dummy frames provide better air ventilation and insulation from extreme temperatures. An inner cover is also laid on the hive to increase insulation, followed by a telescoping cover, which protects the hive from rainfall.
As the hive grows, its layout can expand by adding more boxes. After doing this, the bees will use the bottom box to raise their offspring and the upper box to store their honey. Once the honey is harvested, the frames can be reused so that bees have their own supply of honey for the winter.
Using a package of bees—which contains one Queen and roughly 10,000 bees—the hive can be established by first securing the Queen to the middle frame. Before putting any other bees inside, the Queen must be mounted separately in her own cage. Next, the package of bees can be inserted in the hive. As the bees consume a can of syrup placed above the inner cover, their wax glands will start to produce beeswax, which they can use to build their comb.
A week later, the comb will contain pollen and nectar, and the Queen may already be laying her first eggs. At two weeks, the hatched larvae will be visible. From then on, it’s time to enjoy the hive. The Vincents’ bee hive plans are simple and easy to follow, but will produce a healthy colony of honeybees in no time.