Since 1852, the Langstroth beehive has been America’s favorite beehive.
Through TV Shows, comic strips, and even at the white house itself, these original 10 frame beehives have solidified their place in American history.
If you love the Langstroth hives, you'll be happy to hear that there is now a smaller, easier to handle 8 frame version that costs a bit less out of pocket.
Here are 7 solid reasons why you might choose an 8 frame hive over the traditional 10 frame Langstroth hive.
Smaller Space to Heat
Experts agree that one of the steps to winterizing your bees is to condense your hive by taking off your extra boxes. This helps your bees by limiting the amount of space that needs to be heated.
To take this idea one step further, we suggest that not only could you limit the height of your hive, but also the width. Having a smaller hive can help your hive's heat efficiency just as much as having a shorter hive can.
An 8 frame beehive helps your bees survive through the winter by providing a smaller space to heat.
It seems like the bees already know this. If you take a look at the picture on the right, you'll see a healthy hive in the middle of winter. The bees cluster into a space that is about 8 frames wide. The two farthest frames are unused. This shows bees only use a space of about 8 frames even in a 10 frame hive set up.
Bees Like Moving Vertically
Have you ever wondered why your bees move up to the next layer before fully filling out the farthest two frames of a standard 10 frame hive?
It seems like they instinctively know they don’t need 10 frames of space. Many times, the bees naturally choose to utilize only 8 frames before moving vertically unless it’s a year with heavy flow.
Bees would much rather move vertically up the hive boxes to follow the heat rather than horizontally from frame to frame within the same box. This mimics living in their favorite natural habitat - the hollow of a tree.
Closer Food Sources
Another way 8 frame hives help your bees winterize is through keeping your bees closer to their food sources.
With all 8 frames full of bees, your colony can easily find their honey without having to break their winter cluster to get to the 1st or 8th frame.
Keeping the cluster together is essential for trapping in the heat that they have worked hard to produce.
Some beekeepers even go as far as to prepare their hives for winter by moving all the honey together in the middle of the hive. Doing so allows them to cluster tighter in the winter and move up, instead of out, towards where there is more heat.
Weighs 20% Less
Each box on an 8 frame beehive weighs 20% less than a 10 frame box does - which makes it easier on your back and knees to lift them.
This can be a huge benefit if you’re a beginner and you’re trying to prevent long term back and knee pain.
A 10 frame deep bee box filled with honey can weigh up to 90 lbs. A 10 frame medium bee box filled with honey can weigh up to 60 lbs. With 2 less frames, you'll have less weight. With less weight you are also less likely to drop one of your boxes – which prevents harm to your bees.
Many commercial beekeepers favor an 8 frame hive over 10 frame hives because they spend most of the day picking up heavy bee boxes.
Easier to Carry
Not only do 8 frame beehives weigh less, but the center of gravity is also closer to your body when you're carrying them. This makes 8 frame hives easier to transport than a 10 frame hive.
Regardless of if it's while you’re choosing a spot in your yard for your new apiary, or if you're moving your hives across the country to your next almond orchard. The closer the center of gravity is to your body, the less likely you are to drop your hive bodies while transporting.
Smaller Space Needed
This may not be the biggest factor for you, but might be if you're tight on space in your backyard, apartment rooftop, or apiary.
Every 8 frame beehive is a little over 2" shorter than their 10 frame counterpart. This means for every eight 10 frame beehives you have, you could have nine 8 frame beehives instead.
This means that you can save more bees in a limited amount of space.
Same Likelihood of Swarming
Swarming in an 8 frame hive is no more likely to happen than if you use a 10 frame hive.
The reason most colonies decide to swarm is because the hive is so jam packed of bees that the workers can't smell the queens pheromone anymore. When they can't smell the pheromone, they think there is something wrong with the queen or that she is weak. Once the workers have received this weak signal, they decide it's time for a new queen so they continue some of the larva on the royal jelly diet.
If you keep adding on more bee boxes when the previous bee box is 80% full or more, then your worker bees will be able to disperse and the queen's pheromone can spread out freely through the hive.
An 8 frame hive has many benefits to not only the bees, but to the beekeeper as well.
The bees tend to prefer to use 8 out of their 10 frames throughout the year anyways - especially in the winter when they condense down into a cluster. They also prefer to move vertically rather than horizontally. When they move horizontally, they break the cluster and can freeze. For the beekeeper, the 8 frame hives weigh 20% less and will help the beekeeper lift, inspect and carry hive boxes.