How to stack hives properly

by Darryl Tyner
(Auburn, KS)

I have constructed my hive and installed the foundations in all the frames and am confused as how to stack them. My intent is to put the deep boxes on the bottom and shallow on top to harvest honey from. Where should the queen separator go? There is a board w/frame and a oblong hole in the center, it is also marked this side up, what is it and where should it go. Thanks for your help.


Hi Darryl,

Yes, the conventional configuration is to put deep supers (boxes) on the bottom, and the shallow on top. So your intention is correct.

Typically the deep supers are used for the brood nest, and the shallow supers are used for honey storage, with the intention of harvesting honey by removing the shallow supers.

What you're referring to as a "queen separator" is actually called a queen excluder. Its job is to keep the queen from laying eggs in the supers that are to be used for honey harvest. That's to avoid the inconvenience of having brood mixed in with the honey at harvest time.

Starting out, though, you won't need the queen excluder (some beekeepers never use them at all). You won't need the shallow supers either.

When you start your hive, one deep super will be plenty of room. You won't need to add more room for quite a while. And though it's not impossible, it's somewhat improbable that you'll be harvesting any significant amount of honey the first season. So you may not need the shallow supers until next season.

If you start your hive this season, and it builds up nicely and stores honey enough to make it through the first winter, I'd consider that a very successful first season.

Almost forgot - the board with the oblong hole in it is the inner cover. It goes between the outer cover and the top of the top super. Inner covers come with an oblong hole so that a bee escape can be inserted. Bee escapes are sometimes used during honey harvest. (Though there are better ways to use bee escapes than with the inner cover.)

The hole in the inner cover is sometimes also used for feeding. A feeder jar or bucket can be inverted over the hole, and an empty super placed on the inner cover, and the outer cover placed on top of the empty super.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

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