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HomeBeeKeepingThe last word hive stand? - The Apiarist

The last word hive stand? – The Apiarist

Synopsis : A hive stand gives a powerful and secure assist for hives, an area to work and safety on your again. A effectively designed hive stand ought to be simple to assemble, rot proof and in a position to deal with uneven floor. Right here’s one I made earlier.


Beekeepers could be passionate advocates of their specific selection of hive kind, the fabric it’s made out of, and even the orientation of the brood frames. Equally fervently they might criticise the alternatives others make. They’ll argue about one of the best ways to clear supers, the quickest approach to construct frames, or the necessity for touchdown boards on the hive entrance.

However they not often, if ever, say very a lot about what the hive is sitting on.

Storms anticipated and I’ve run out of hive straps

The hive stand … probably essentially the most passive and neglected merchandise within the apiary .

At its most straightforward, the hive stand will not be a lot ignored as omitted altogether. The hive is simply positioned on the bottom.

You may simply establish beekeepers who don’t use hive stands; they both have unhealthy backs or soiled knees.

Which neatly makes the purpose that the hive stand does extra than simply perform as one thing to face the hive on.

The aim of a hive stand

I can consider a number of capabilities {that a} good hive stand gives, or any hive stand ought to present. These embrace:

  • protecting the hive off the damp floor
  • stopping vegetation from blocking the doorway
  • offering a secure, degree or adjustable platform for the hive and – in a very good season – its teetering tower of heavy supers
  • area to put frames faraway from the hive throughout inspections
  • extra working area for bins (supers, second brood bins and many others.) when inspecting colonies
  • positioning hives at a greater peak to forestall, or delay, beekeepers again.

Not each hive stand gives all these, and a few provide little multiple merchandise from the checklist above.

Not even each hive stand I’m at present utilizing gives multiple factor from this checklist 🙁

Maybe that’s why they’re largely neglected? Even poor hive stands work. Up to a degree.

Which isn’t the identical as saying that we shouldn’t aspire to one thing higher.

I’ve been giving this some thought as my beekeeping actions increase on the west coast. The hive stands I’ve simply accomplished are a major enchancment on something I’ve used earlier than.

I reside on the aspect of a hill. There’s virtually no degree floor. Even the sitting room slopes a bit, and it’s so much worse in what I laughably name the ‘backyard’ .

It’s additionally a humid hill.

I needed a hive stand that wouldn’t dissolve into mush over a few seasons.

However earlier than discussing what I at present assume will resolve nearly all of my issues right here’s a fast overview of a number of DIY and industrial hive stands … the nice, the unhealthy and the ugly.

A pictorial overview of hive stands

I’ll whizz by these and make a remark or two on every.

The ‘no hive stand’ hive stand

All effectively and good till the grass grows and obscures the doorway.

The ‘no hive stand’ hive stand i.e. the bottom

In my defence, these had been analysis colonies and we’d utterly run out of something appropriate on this specific apiary. By no means good on your posture … which is why we’ve PhD college students to do a lot of the bending, lifting and carrying .

On a optimistic observe, hive stands like these gained’t value you a lot 😉


These present a handy flat floor. Nevertheless, it’s solely a horizontal flat floor if the bottom beneath is. Or in the event you spend time wedging stones or bits of wooden in the best locations to make the highest of the pallet degree.

A pallet hive stand

Even two stacked pallets leaves the hive at an uncomfortable working peak for anybody taller than 4 foot one (125 cm). Since I’m six foot one the setup above was decidedly momentary. As well as, though the snow isn’t deep, it’s already protecting the hive entrance.

Abelo poly hives on pallets

Pallets are quickly overgrown by the encompassing herbage in summer time. The picture above was taken in January. That apiary was mown annually however the hives had been virtually invisible by June.

Nicot promote a plastic pallet designed for 2 (European, not Nationwide?) hives that may be stacked, is rot proof and could be moved with a fork elevate truck … not not like a wood pallet you’ll get free along with your subsequent giant order of jars from C Wynne Jones 😉

I’m not a fan of pallets although I often use them.

Tyres and milk crates

I’ve used each. Outdated tyres truly make fairly good hive stands and it’s comparatively simple to wedge issues beneath them to make them degree. Two is an affordable working peak, however three may endure stability points. Larger tyres with flat sidewalls stack higher.

Poly bait hive on a hive stand of outdated automobile tyres

There’s no situation with them rotting and you may ‘work’ the hive from any angle if the bottom surrounding is appropriate. Nevertheless, this additionally implies that there’s nowhere handy to stability a body or two when you full your inspections.

Arguably they’re additionally probably not aesthetically pleasing … a sentiment I agree with. I wouldn’t have used these for the bait hive (above) had I not discovered them discarded beneath the rhododendron I cleared from the location.

Under offer ...

A bait hive on a milk crate

I’ve solely used milk crates for momentary bait hives. The footprint of a Nationwide hive is bigger than a regular milk crate and a full hive, with shops, can be unstable. For bait hives they’re nice … and commendably gentle.

DIY and industrial ‘correct’ hive stands – with ‘legs’ and horizontal bars

I’ve grouped this lot collectively because it covers a really wide selection of broadly comparable designs. Two horizontal wood or metallic rails supported at or close to every finish with wood or metallic legs, or by a stack of breeze blocks.

Breeze blocks and metallic rails

Virtually all the hive stands I’ve used have been of this form of design. They go well with my beekeeping. A number of hives sit on the stand, with area between them to put frames or dummy boards. Typically there’s extra area to stack supers as effectively.

A wide range of selfmade (rickety) wood hive stands

A number of producers produce hive stands which are comparable in design. Thorne’s promote one for 2 hives for £92.50 that appears as if it actually wants flat floor as a result of design of the legs. Abelo have what appears to be like like a properly designed set of adjustable metallic legs (you should present your personal wood rails) for £125.

Abelo hive stand

I’ve not tried both of those hive stands . Each seem fairly effectively designed although I believe there are enhancements that could possibly be made that I’d need to see for the form of cash they’re asking. I observe that each are at present out of inventory suggesting that many (beforehand rich) beekeepers purchase them.

Levelling up

Not the ‘defining mission’ of our present authorities … as an alternative the necessity – or not – to have your hives standing on a flat and horizontal floor.

When you solely use foundation-filled frames then it doesn’t actually matter if the hive stand slopes a bit – left to proper or entrance to again. Or each.

Some beekeepers who use stable flooring tilt the hive so any moisture can drain out of the doorway, moderately than pooling in the back of the hive. That is clearly irrelevant for these of us who use open mesh flooring.

Nevertheless, in the event you use foundationless frames it actually helps to have the hive horizontal, at the least within the orientation perpendicular to the frames. Bees draw comb vertically in relation to gravity. A hive tilted forwards, with frames the heat method (i.e. parallel to the doorway) would find yourself with comb at an angle to the aspect bars. This implies you would by no means reverse a body, or use it in one other hive that wasn’t equally angled.

Comb is drawn vertically on foundationless frames.

And once I say ‘may’ I (in fact) imply ‘can’.

I’ve completed this and it’s infuriating 🙁

So, though a superbly horizontal hive stand will not be a necessity, the possibility of with the ability to simply make the stand horizontal is helpful. The Abelo stand described above seems to be adjustable in 1.5 cm increments … so horizontalish, however probably not actually horizontal until you dig a gap for one foot, or place a shim underneath one other.

I believe we are able to do higher than that 😉

Clickbait and originality

Let’s get a few necessary factors cleared away earlier than I get to the large reveal.

  • the title of this put up is rhetorical and/or just designed to drive up web page views so I can rake in but more cash from this web site’s extremely intrusive promoting and sponsorship . I’m more than pleased to just accept that there are higher/cheaper/extra adjustable/taller/lighter hive stands on the market … however I’m not conscious of them and this is the most effective design I’ve made.
  • an important function – the legs – aren’t my thought. Common reader Calum Grigor despatched me a photograph of a really comparable design virtually six years in the past . I appreciated it then, I appreciated it once I first talked about it in passing in a 2018 put up, and I prefer it much more now I’ve lastly bought spherical to creating a pair. It’s not the primary time Calum has handed on a good suggestion to me, and I hope it gained’t be the final . Thanks Calum!

Design options

I believe the 2 most necessary options of a hive stand are its stability and energy.


On the peak of the season a full hive may weigh 100+ kg (double brood field plus 4 full supers). A stand that may safely assist that form of weight must be robust and securely assembled.

Numerous full, heavy supers

When you intend to have a number of hives on the identical stand then the load will increase accordingly. Bear in mind, they’re all more likely to be at full energy/most weight at about the identical time.


As well as, nearly all of the load is within the supers, that means hives could be very ‘high heavy’.

Hive toppled by a summer time storm

A hive stand with the ft positioned shut collectively will in all probability be unstable. On this regard, the Abelo stand pictured earlier is excellent (and the one within the {photograph} above is – clearly – moderately poor).


The rails must be spaced appropriately for the hive flooring. Nevertheless, it additionally helps if they’re sufficiently far aside to accommodate eliminated frames throughout inspections .

A bit wider would be better

A bit wider can be higher

This can be a handy approach to hold a body secure and out of the best way as you undergo the rest of the field. Nevertheless, inserting the body like this actually requires two palms.

Frames could be positioned like this with one hand

I subsequently normally stability the body at an angle – on one lug and the underside bars (see above) – one thing I can simply obtain one handed.


If there’s any danger of the hive being uncovered to robust winds it must be strapped down. I often strap hives front-to-back i..e. with the strap throughout the hive entrance.

Strapping hives down. L) Entrance to again round rails, or R) aspect to aspect with a bar beneath hive.

Nevertheless, it’s extra handy to have a bracing bar beneath the hive so it may be strapped side-to-side. This additionally makes it simpler to strap down poly nucs that are normally longer (entrance to again) than a Nationwide hive.

The last word hive stand?

The unique picture Calum despatched me is reproduced beneath.

Scaffolding 'feet' for legs

The picture despatched to me again in 2016 …

4 ‘legs’ and simply 4 bits of wooden. I just like the hive roofs.

Scaffold jacks

The legs are termed scaffold jacks, scaffold levelling jacks or typically screw jacks.

These are sometimes 600 mm in complete peak, rated to 4 tonnes and manufactured from galvanised metal. The outer thread diameter is 38 mm and there may be an infinitely adjustable nut that runs on the thread, and is retained by a defect within the thread about 100 mm from the highest i.e. offering 500 mm of adjustable peak (~16 cm greater than the Abelo stand pictured earlier).

The last word hive stand?

Scaffold jacks could be bought new for about £12 every , or secondhand for a smallish jar of honey (although my expertise means that most individuals promoting scaffold jacks favor beer tokens).

Rail helps

To assist the longitudinal hive rails I constructed lateral helps from 4 x 2 offcuts. I drilled a 40 mm gap by them to take the scaffold jack screw thread. I used a centre distance of fifty cm, leaving precisely 46 cm to accommodate a Nationwide hive. Looking back, making these rail helps a bit longer would have supplied a wider, and subsequently extra secure, base .

It might additionally enable my favoured poly nuc (Thorne’s Everynuc which has an extended dimension of 58 cm) to be positioned anyplace on the stand. Maisemore’s poly nucs are additionally 50 cm lengthy so can’t be positioned straight according to the scaffold jacks (although additionally see beneath).


The intention is that I’ll finally use stress handled 4 x 2 (and even 6 x 2) timber because the longitudinal rails on most of those hive stands. I’m ready for some constructing work to be accomplished so I can use the bigger offcuts.

Within the meantime I’ve repurposed a set of metal gateposts. These are 2.4 m in size and extremely robust. They’ve 8 mm threaded captive nuts constructed into them for the hinges. Conveniently this implies I can bolt by from the underside of the rail assist into the captive nut, recessing the bolt head in order that it doesn’t foul the scaffold jack peak adjustment nut.

Recessed bolt head underneath the rail assist

The place of the captive nuts within the gatepost dictates a definite overhang at one finish. I’ll use this to hold frames and/or place the supers apart.

The overhang … the bars may also assist the body on ‘one lug and the underside bar’ as proven earlier

The metallic posts are robust sufficient to hold 4 full hives, 18 cm aside. Or three hives plus ample area to stack supers or brood bins.

Nevertheless, I can see some benefits in utilizing 6 x 2’s as rails. They may elevate the hive flooring above the tops of the scaffold jacks (at the least if these are adjusted appropriately) and so will accommodate the poly nucs simply. As well as, they’ll present a deep ‘skirt’ underneath the open mesh flooring – a bit like standing the hive on an empty tremendous – and so scale back draughts . These wood rails will both be bolted by or held in place with galvanised L brackets.

Ending touches

I added a diagonal cross brace to maintain the stand sq.. Sooner or later (i.e. once I can discover some appropriate wooden) I’ll add one other. These make strapping hives to the stand very simple.

The angled cross brace retains every thing squared up

The highest of the scaffold jack screw thread is designed to suit inside a scaffold pipe. It’s subsequently unfinished and mine had very tough edges. With out modification this may lead to lacerations to my bee go well with and everlasting scarring to my palms.

Whereas making espresso previous to placing the angle grinder to work I seen {that a} inexperienced plastic milk bottle high appeared about the identical measurement because the scaffold jack screw thread.

Patented beesuit and hand protectors fitted

And it’s.

Ninety seven cappuccinos later I had the 4 milk bottle tops essential for the legs on one stand. Not solely do these forestall shredding your bee go well with, gloves and flesh, however in addition they cease water working down contained in the leg .

However, I wager they’re not UV secure and can degrade in a yr or two 🙁

So … extra espresso 🙂

Transportable? … sure, nearly.

Scaffold jacks are fairly heavy. Nevertheless, in the event you’re robust sufficient, the element components could be disassembled and simply transported by automobile. The one I’ve constructed with metallic rails will match inside my little automobile and could be put collectively in about 5 minutes with a single spanner.

Uneven floor … no hassle. This stand is ready for longer and stronger rails.

Or it may be taken to a sheltered and distant a part of the backyard to accommodate mating nucs.

As soon as the legs are positioned on stable floor, the rail helps and rails are added and – utilizing a spirit degree – every leg in flip is adjusted till the rails are horizontal and degree. There’s no have to dig holes, or wedge stuff underneath the jacks. This takes one other 5 minutes.

Ought to the bottom subside a bit, or get compacted with the load of the hives, you may simply elevate or decrease the suitable a part of the stand to get issues degree once more.

Job’s a very good ‘un 🙂

Be aware for Fb followers

Fb has modified the best way posts listed here are automagically additionally posted there. I don’t use Fb and haven’t bought a Scooby Doo tips on how to repair this, so it’ll keep damaged for the second I’m afraid.

Followers on Fb are strongly beneficial to both subscribe by e mail (use the little subscription kind in the best hand column of each web page right here) or on Twitter.

Of the 2, e mail might be extra dependable … 🙂

STOP PRESS … maybe it really works in spite of everything? I randomly clicked some stuff and checked some checkboxes. If you’re a Fb follower and by no means see this put up, please contact me.



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