The 7 Best Beehives 🐝 [2020 Reviews & Buyer’s Guide]

Beekeeping, also known as apiculture, is a serene, immensely fulfilling occupation.

If you are toying with the idea of keeping bees, this guide is here to help you get started. In addition to learning everything you can about bees, you will need a good beehive kit.

Our editors have put together a list for you of the seven best beehives for beginners, along with detailed reviews of each, tips, a guide for buyers, and frequently asked questions.

But proceed with caution, because beekeeping has been proven to be an extremely addictive pastime!

Best Beehives For Beginners

 VIVOHOME Wooden 20Official Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6 FrameApimaye Insulated Bee Hive Set
editors choice
Construction:LangstrothLangstrothLangstroth
Material:Cedar, Pine WoodWestern Red CedarUV-resistant plastic
Foundations Included:Yes; 20NoNo
Size:21.7" x 18" x 20.5"19.7” x 13.8 ”x 9.65”27.5” x 24” x 19.3”
Weight:48 Pounds37.5 Pounds50 Pounds

For more of my sustainable living recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Chicken Coops, Rain Barrels, Composting Bins.


Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Beehives For 2020

  1. VIVOHOME Wooden 20 Frames Langstroth Honey Bee Hive
  2. Official Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6 Frame – Langstroth Style Beehive
  3. Honey Keeper Beehive 20 Frame Complete Box Kit
  4. Hoover Hives Natural Bees Wax Coated 10 Frame Bee Hive
  5. Apimaye Ergo Plus Langstroth Size Insulated Bee Hive Set
  6. Natural Bees Wax Coated Hoover Hives 8 Frame Bee Hive
  7. Happybuy Langstroth 4 Layer 20 Frame Beehive

Our reviews of the top rated beehives with our comparison table and buyers guide will help you choose the right one for you.


Beehive Reviews

The VIVOHOME 20 Frame Bee Hive offers a complete home for your bees which will meet all of their needs.

This beehive kit is a great starter for beginners, as it contains everything needed for a proper beehive (apart from the bees).

This Langstroth hive is constructed of high quality cedar wood and uses pine wood for the frames within.

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Furthermore, the outer lid is covered with a preassembled, waterproof galvanized metal top to keep your bees dry and the elements out.

It’s even snow proof! The hive comes with one medium box and one deep box, with 10 included frames per box. And all of the frames include foundations made from black food grade plastic.

The premium construction with dovetail joints (which are best put together with the help of a rubber mallet) will keep your bees warm even in the cold winter months.

The whole thing can be assembled within 10 minutes. Each of the boards has been sanded down so you can use it safely.

The bottom board is detachable and includes an entrance reducer to protect your bees and enable easy cleaning of the hive. The kit also includes an inner cover and a queen excluder.

If you are a beginner, this beehive provides everything you need to get started at quite a reasonable price.

This kit is even good for expert beekeepers. More boxes can be stacked on top as your hive grows.

VIVOHOME Langstroth Honey Bee Hive at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Cedar Wood, Pine Wood
  • Foundations Included: Yes; 20
  • Size: 21.7″ x 18.1″ x 20.5″
  • Weight: 48 Pounds

The Flow Hive was invented due to the desire to allow beekeepers to extract honey from their hives more easily without harming any bees.

This ingenious design featuring patented flow technology makes life significantly easier for both beekeepers and bees.

This 6 frame model, the Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6, is an improvement on the classic Flow Hive.

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The Flow Hive 2 is based on the Langstroth design and can be easily converted to such.

If you wish to convert it to a Langstroth hive, it is compatible with 8 frame Langstroth equipment.

The roof is sturdy and gabled, keeping the elements out while offering a classic, aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The exterior includes multiple observation windows which enable you to monitor the health of your bees and watch them do their fascinating work without disturbing them.

The medium box includes six patented flow frames, and the deep brood box includes 8 frames. The Flow Hive also includes a screened bottom board to keep out pests.

The best part of this hive is the honey collection system. The hive is held up by adjustable feet, which are manufactured with a slope of 3 degrees toward the honey outlets to allow for optimal harvesting of honey.

Video overview of the Flow Hive:

Flow Hive 2 - walk through the features with Cedar Anderson

So the whole hive is slightly tilted to allow the honey to flow (but adjustable in case of an uneven surface).

In order to collect honey, you simply insert the flow key, turn it, and watch the honey flow directly from the flow frames through the taps into your jars.

There is no heavy lifting required. You don’t have to remove the super (which can weigh as much as 40 lbs) to get the honey, as you would for a Langstroth hive.

You simply let gravity do the work and let the honey flow into your jar, without moving the supers, removing the frames, or disturbing the bees.

The Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6 incorporates all the advantages of the Langstroth hive design and eliminates the major drawbacks: the heavy lifting required and the fact that the bees are disturbed and/or harmed.

This flow hive basically combines the best of all worlds. Unfortunately, it comes at a price: this ingenious, convenient, impeccably designed hive is the most expensive hive on our list by a long shot.

But if you want a Langstroth style hive but don’t want (or are unable) to do the heavy lifting required, you will find this hive well worth the investment.

 

Official Flow Hive 2 Cedar – Langstroth Style Beehive at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Western Red Cedar Wood
  • Foundations Included: No
  • Size: 25” x 21”x 9.1”
  • Weight: 37.5 Pounds

Honey Keeper is a well-known brand among beekeepers, and for good reason.

They produce high quality beekeeping equipment. This complete beehive box kit from them is no exception.

This 20 frame Langstroth beehive is solidly constructed from fir wood with pine wood frames.

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The outer telescopic cover is topped with galvanized metal to provide a weatherproof roof for the hive.

The hive includes one deep box with 10 deep frames and one medium box with 10 medium frames.

The foundations for all frames are included; the foundations are pre-cut, unwaxed plastic with hexagonally shaped surfaces.

The kit also includes a solid bottom board, the inner cover, an entrance reducer, and a queen excluder. The entrance reducer regulates the movement of air and keeps out mice.

Basically, this kit is everything you need to start beekeeping as a beginner (aside from the bees, of course).

And as your colony grows and you gain more and more experience, you can easily add more boxes to the top (right underneath the inner and outer cover) to give your bees more overhead room to expand.

This beehive will serve you well, whether you are a beginner, an expert, or somewhere in between.

 

Honey Keeper Beehive 20 Frame Complete Box Kit at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Fir Wood, Pine Wood
  • Foundations Included: Yes; 20
  • Size: 23” x 18.25” x 19.75”
  • Weight: 46.5 Pounds

This simple yet gorgeous beehive from Hoover Hives is an excellent and affordable choice for the aspiring beekeeper.

This Langstroth hive is constructed from fir wood with pine wood frames, and the entire exterior is coated with real beeswax to create an attractive, non-toxic, weather resistant, protective exterior.

It includes a telescopic metal capped top cover to shield the hive from the elements.

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It also includes not one but two deep brood boxes with 10 frames each, as well as 1 medium box with 10 frames.

All 30 of the frames have food grade plastic foundations coated with beeswax for speedy bee acceptance. And of course, it has the requisite inner cover, queen excluder, bottom board, and entrance excluder.

This hive is perfect for a beginner or expert beekeeper and is available at a great price.

 

Hoover Hives Natural Bees Wax Coated Bee Hive at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Fir Wood, Pine Wood
  • Foundations Included: Yes; 30
  • Size: 22” x 16” x 30”
  • Weight: 48 Pounds

This beehive from Apimaye may not look like a conventional hive, but it performs just as well (or better). The whole thing is made of food grade UV-resistant plastic.

This provides a weatherproof home for your bees, insulating them and keeping them warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer without allowing moisture buildup.

The active ventilation system gets rid of moisture and prevents fungal growth.

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Each box has capacity for 10 frames and includes frame spacers to prevent sliding when you are carrying a box with fewer than 10 frames.

This Langstroth hive does not come with frames, so be sure to purchase wooden or plastic Langstroth frames.

It does include a screened bottom board, an entrance reducer, and a queen excluder.

It also includes a top cover feeder which can be easily used to feed your bees with syrup or candy without disturbing or opening the hive.

This hive is on the pricier side, especially when the lack of frames is considered, but the quality and excellent design more than justifies its cost.

 

Apimaye Ergo Plus Langstroth Size Insulated Bee Hive Set at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Food grade UV-resistant plastic
  • Foundations Included: No
  • Size: 27.5” x 24” x 19.3”
  • Weight: 50 Pounds

This hive from Happybuy is another attractive, all-inclusive beehive that is great for everyone from beginners to experts.

The best feature of this hive is its expanded capacity: instead of one deep brood box and one medium super box, it includes two deep boxes and two medium supers at a very reasonable price.

The exterior is made of fir wood with a metal telescopic roof cover.

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The kit contains everything you will need to build a Langstroth hive, such as 20 deep and 20 medium pine frames with plastic textured cell foundations included, an inner cover, and a bottom board with entrance reducer.

This is a great product for the price, with a large starting capacity for bees.

 

Happybuy Langstroth 4 Layer Beehive at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Fir Wood, Pine Wood
  • Foundations Included: Yes; 40
  • Size: 22″ x 16.3″ x 39″
  • Weight: 83 Pounds

Another top-notch entry from Hoover Hives, this 8 frame beehive is almost identical to the above 10 frame one from this company in design.

It has all the advantages of the other Hoover Hives beehive described above, such as the attractive exterior  completely coated in a protective, weather resistant layer of genuine beeswax.

Also  the metal covered roof, the two deep brood boxes, and the one medium box.

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It also comes with all the necessary frames and food grade plastic beeswax-coated foundations to fill the hive.

The only difference with this model is that it is an 8 frame construction, which means that the super will be lighter and somewhat easier to manage. Another stellar offering at an affordable price from Hoover Hives.

 

Hoover Hives Natural Bees Wax Coated Bee Hive at a Glance:

  • Construction: Langstroth
  • Material: Fir Wood, Pine Wood
  • Foundations Included: Yes; 24
  • Size: 22” x 16” x 30”
  • Weight: 46 Pounds

Bee Hive Comparison Table

Beehives MaterialFoundationsSizeWeightRating
VIVOHOME Wooden 20Cedar Wood, Pine WoodYes; 2021.7" x 18.1" x 20.5"48 lbs4.0 / 5.0
Official Flow Hive 2 Cedar 6Western Red Cedar WoodNo25” x 21”x 9.1”37.5 lbs4.4 / 5.0
Honey Keeper Beehive 20Fir Wood, Pine WoodYes; 2023” x 18”x 19.75”46.5 lbs4.3 / 5.0
Hoover Hives NaturalFir Wood, Pine WoodYes; 3022" x 16” x 30”48 lbs4.6 / 5.0
Apimaye Ergo Plus Langstroth
Food grade UV-resistant plasticNo27.5” x 24” x 19.3”50 lbs4.8 / 5.0
Happybuy Langstroth 4 Layer 20Fir Wood, Pine WoodYes; 40
22" x 16" x 39"83 lbs4.5 / 5.0
Hoover Hives NaturalFir Wood, Pine WoodYes; 2422” x 16” x 30”46 lbs4.4 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Beehive: What to Know Before You Buy

best beehive for beginners

In order to help you make an informed decision about which beehive best suits your needs, we have put together a list of specifications and features for you to consider when buying a beehive.

General

Before you start beekeeping, be sure to read up on the life cycle, behavior, and biology of bees.

You should learn as much as possible about bees if you are serious in your designs to keep bees.

Design

A good hive should protect your bees from the elements and keep them warm in winter and cool in summer while also providing enough ventilation to get rid of moisture.

It should also allow you to tend to the hive with minimal disturbance to your bees.

Versatility

Consider selecting a design that is compatible with standard accessories and equipment. In this department, the Langstroth design is an excellent choice.

Weight

If you cannot lift 40 lbs, a Langstroth hive will be difficult for you to keep, as it requires removing the entire medium super box to get the honey.

Consider a modified Langstroth design such as the Flow Hive or a top bar hive, which is discussed below.

Honey Collection

Since you are most likely keeping bees for their honey, the design of your hive should facilitate its collection.

Langstrom hives allow for collection of honey via centrifuge, which saves the comb for further use.

And the ingenious patented Flow Hive enables you to collect honey without any heavy lifting or disturbance of the bees at all.

Video: Beginners Guide to Beekeeping

Beekeeping for beginners and what you need to get started

FAQs About Beehives

Q: Which way should a beehive face?

A: The entrance of a beehive ought to face away from foot traffic.

Facing the beehive entrance in the opposite direction of any foot traffic will create a calmer environment for the bees.

This is because they will not perceive the people and the pets walking by as possible threats if the entrance is directed away from the foot traffic.

Some beekeepers advise facing the entrance of beehives to the southeast if possible.

This is supposed to allow the bees to derive the greatest benefit from the morning light and begin their activities earlier.

However, studies of beehives in nature have found that bees do not seem to exhibit a particular preference for beehives with entrances facing any particular direction.

Furthermore, commercial beehives face their entrances in all directions and do not appear to get higher production from the beehives that are facing in any particular direction.

So the advice that some beekeepers give to face the entrance of the hive toward the southeast ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

But it certainly can’t hurt to avoid facing the entrances of your beehives to the north. Facing them to the south or southeast are still (in general) considered a better practice.

But it is most important to face the beehive entrance away from the direction of foot traffic.

Q: What are the different types of beehives?

A: The three most common types of beehives in use today are the Langstroth beehive, the top bar beehive, and the Warré beehive.

Langstroth Hive: The Langstroth is the most common type of beehive in the US by far. In fact, when you think of a beehive, you are probably picturing a Langstroth hive.

It is known for being a good beehive for everyone from beginners to commercial beekeepers. It was invented in 1852 by the Rev. L. L. Langstroth.

A Langstroth hive acts like a chest of drawers, with boxes which stack on top of one another and which contain removable vertical frames.

It consists of an outer cover, an inner cover, supers containing vertical frames, a bottom board, and a stand. It may also include a queen excluder and foundation sheets.

The major downside with this type of beehive is that it is difficult for those with physical limitations or who cannot handle lifting heavy objects to use it. Supers full of honey may weigh as much as 40 pounds.

Top Bar Hive: The top bar beehive is the oldest style of manmade beehive. It consists of a long, horizontal box with inverted trapezoidal sides.

It rests on a stand with legs which keep the box raised off of the ground. Wooden bars are laid on the top of the horizontal box.

These wooden bars are the top bars, and the bees build their honeycomb down from these top bars into the horizontal box.

Unlike the Langstroth, the top bar hive does not use foundation sheets.

And it is much easier to handle in terms of weight; instead of lifting an entire super full of frames with comb, the beekeeper needs to lift out only one top bar (which may weigh around five to ten pounds).

The top bar hive is by far the easiest on a beekeeper’s back and is thus the most viable option for those with physical limitations.

A distinct disadvantage of the top bar hive, however, is that honey must be collected by removing both the honeycomb and the honey, so the bees will have to produce new comb every year.

Warré Hive: The Warré hive was invented by Émile Warré in the middle of the twentieth century. This hive also utilizes a top bar, but it is a vertical design with stacked boxes.

Bees build comb from the top bar downward into the hive, and empty boxes are added to the bottom of the stack to give the bees more space.

Unlike the Langstroth design, in which new boxes are added to the top of the hive. This more closely imitates what bees do in nature.

The advantage of this design is that it disturbs the bees less and allows them to form comb as they would in nature.

The major disadvantage of the Warré hive is that the entire hive must be lifted up in order to stack a new box underneath.

This requires multiple beekeepers with strong backs to accomplish. All the hives we have selected for this list are Langstroth beehives.

This is due to the fact that they are the most popular type of hive in the US, and there is a great deal of information about them.

They are widely considered to be the best type of beehive for beginners.

So the Langstroth design is quite a safe recommendation for the United States, given the plethora of information, resources, and beekeepers who utilize it.

The Langstroth may not necessarily be better than the other two types of hives for every situation, but its popularity ensures that there will be no lack of knowledge or help for beekeepers who choose it.

Q: Should beehives be in the sun or shade?

A: The question of whether to place a beehive in a sunny area or a shaded area is a bit more nuanced than one might imagine.

In nature, bees will oftentimes prefer to build their hives in shaded areas, such as under trees. But beekeepers prefer to keep bees in areas fully exposed to the sun.

This is because warm bees will begin their activities earlier in the day. Thus, in theory, the warmer the bees are, the more active they will be and the more honey they will produce.

Bees in nature obviously are not worried about the amount of honey they produce and are just fine with keeping their nests in the shade.

But, assuming that you plan to keep bees for their honey and your intention is to maximize their honey production, it is perfectly appropriate to keep beehives in full sun (throughout the entire day), and many beekeepers do so.

If you are in a particularly warm climate, you might consider placing the bees in an area where they are in the sun for most of the day but will receive a bit of shade in the late afternoon.

Either way, the bees will have no trouble surviving and thriving (whether they are in the full sun all day or whether they have some shade in the afternoons).

Just try not to keep your bees fully in the shade.

Q: How far should a beehive be from a house?

A: Unfortunately, there is not a simple, straightforward answer for this question. It depends on where you live, the dimensions of your dwelling place, and the surrounding area.

It is important to exercise sound judgement and common sense when determining where to place a beehive.

Bees require approximately six feet of horizontal distance from the beehive in order to gain an altitude of six feet.

You want your bees to be able to fly in all directions in search of nectar, so keep this calculation in mind when you calculate the distance from your house or other buildings.

If the bees are unable to attain altitude in one direction, they will not fly in that direction, and they will not get the nectar that could have been derived from that direction.

Also, it is important not to place your beehives near a sidewalk, near clothes lines, or near the property of your neighbors.

Honey bees are relatively docile and will tend not to bother anyone, but if there is a sidewalk directly in their flight path, they may cause the people walking on the sidewalk to become terrified with their buzzing.

Or a curious bee may freak out your neighbor or family member by flying into their hair, which can result in an accidental sting.

If a neighbor becomes bothered by your beehives, he or she may complain to the city or to people in authority and get all your beehives shut down.

It is also important to consider children when placing your beehives.

Children may be easily frightened by the buzzing of bees or by one or two curious honey bees flying around them, and this can cause them to swat at the bee and receive an accidental sting.

So, if possible, place your beehives out of the reach of children and the areas where they normally play.

To recap, beehives should be kept far enough away from buildings to allow the bees to attain enough altitude.

They should also be placed away from sidewalks, foot traffic, clothes lines, children’s play areas, and neighbors’ houses.

Exercise judgement and common sense when determining where to place your beehives.

Q: Can you mow around a beehive?

A: Yes, you can mow around a beehive. Most bees are typically not that bothered by a lawnmower (even one that gets within one foot of the hive).

However, it is better to mow the lawn in the early morning before the bees become active or at night when the bees have settled down for the night.

If you are nervous about mowing around the hive, you can wear a bee suit as a precaution. But know your own bees!

If you have the kind of bees which react aggressively to noise and/or vibrations, then you might consider smoking the hive or wearing a bee suit.

In addition, putting a fence that is six feet tall or higher around the hive to forces the bees to fly in an upward direction upon leaving the hive, which can reduce aggressive behavior considerably.

Notice:

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