Sweet Pines Apiary
Honeybee Observation Hive

HOME - Back to Sweet Pines Apiary home page or look for us at www.tianca.com.


Due to our eminent move to Michigan, I will not be building any observation hives this year.


Sweet Pines Apiary offers standard and custom Observation Hives. Our hives have been designed to meet the often-conflicting requirements of both the honeybees and the viewer. A number of years of experience maintaining observation hives led to a series of design improvements. Our hive designs combine beautiful wood furniture pieces with serviceable observation hives to create an attractive and educational display secure enough for a public environment.

Educational Displays

There's no better attention-getter than live honeybees, safely behind a wall of glass. We are, at the same time, attracted and repulsed. Young and old alike are fascinated by this social insect.

We can also provide supplementary materials including:

·  Hands-on materials

·  Detailed pictures and posters

·  Lesson Plans, quizzes, and activity sheets for different ages

·  or information and trivia reproducibles.

Let us help you make your program and facility more interesting through the addition of a living honeybee display with educational materials as backup!

Observation Hive Setup and Maintenance Guidelines


Have you ever considered establishing an observation hive for honeybees but were concerned about lack of knowledge and possible complications? This booklet covers setup alternatives and considerations for public displays, including displays managed by non-beekeepers. It is written for the non-beekeeping staff of museums and nature centers so they can evaluate the potential of establishing an educational observation hive at their facility. This booklet does not provide sufficient background to keep bees. Many good books have been written on that subject. This booklet deals with the very specialized area of observation hive setup and maintenance requirements, for planning purposes.

Observation Hive Rental & Maintenance Service


Sweet Pines Apiary provides an observation hive maintenance service on Long Island New York. We adjust the schedule according to the knowledge level of the facility staff and can either provide just support as needed or take complete responsibility for maintaining the observation hive. We also have portable observation hives available for short term rental.

Portable Observation Hive


Our portable observation hive is built to be rugged, yet attractive. It holds two deep frames of honeycomb with only one frame thickness so that the queen can generally be found on the comb surface. This hive is great for maintaining an observation hive for a small period or during warm months. It takes substantial effort to maintain bees in this hive all year in a temperate climate, but it can be done. This is an ideal unit when you need to take your show "on the road" to visit classrooms or fairs. This hive can be moved easily and setup in a classroom with a flight exit tube to a nearby window for short-term study. Side "glass" is Plexiglas for safety in the mobile application and is further protected by slide-in wood panels. The feeder bottle is accessible from beneath the jar through a tunnel.

Single Frame Width Ensures Queen Can Be Seen


Most of our permanent installation observation hives are mounted on a turntable for flexible viewing. This allows installation against a wall for easy bee-exit hookup but still allows the hive to be turned to locate the queen or hive study. A single frame thickness is normally used to allow observation of the queen on the comb surface. The whole hive can be lifted off the turntable for easy maintenance. The unit pictured is four frames high and can be maintained year round in a temperate climate in a heated building. Glass is "auto" glass, two sheets of glass with an interior layer of plastic, for safety. Glass is easier to clean and doesn't scratch or fog like Plexiglas. I no longer build this model unless a special modification from a standard unit is desired. Draper's Superbee Apiaries provides a very nice unit for a very competitive price and I often wind up recommending them when there is no special need for my added features.

Double Frame Width Improves Wintering Survival

Some installations do not have sufficient thermal control to maintain the area around the observation hive heated properly. This doublewide (two frames wide at each level) unit allows the bees to better control their own environment by clustering across the width of the hive. This greatly improves the survivability and ease of care of the bees over a winter. The problems with this hive are that the queen is often between frames, and so is not as often observed, and the hive is a two-man lift. This is often the "winter hive" paired with a single width "summer hive" and exchanged spring and fall. My current design uses a single hardwood outer shell with interchangeable internal spacers for single or double width. This greatly reduces the installation costs for a setup having both single and double thicknesses.


That is a big word today. Due to many requests from a number of nature centers and schools, I have designed a hive with security designed in. It uses tamper-resistant fastener heads on all hardware, has table lock-down to prevent vandalism by bouncing the turntable up off the exit tube, and has removable plywood panels over the glass doors to secure when unattended. This has become my standard offering. It has a 5/4 inch solid hardwood outside frame, sized for three deep brood frames in height, and the interior interchangeable spacers for single or double width.

Turntable Lock-down Increases Safety


Every advantage seems to have corresponding disadvantages. The flexibility offered by the turntable mounting and easy lift-off for maintenance opens an avenue for pranks of bumping the hive up and allowing bees to escape. We have provision for a lock-down that still allows the turntable to be rotated completely.

Hive-top Feeder Eases Care


Locating the feeder at the bottom of the hive, and thus the cluster, makes it difficult for the bees to access the feeder at cooler temperatures. Dead bees also easily block the feeder access tube at the bottom. The hive-top feeder makes it much easier to maintain the bees at cooler temperatures. It is removable and can be used for providing water for air conditioning if shut-in on a hot day, sugar water for supplemental feeding and administration of medications when needed. The hive top feeder is removable and is compatible either single or double width hives. This design also includes internal spacers to allow either single width for visibility or double frame width for winter survivability without requiring the purchase of two observation hives.

Audio Tape - Our Friend the Honeybee


Many years of speaking to groups of all ages has led to the development of a short (15 minutes) but very informative presentation on this marvelous insect. This tape has the same recording on both sides so that it can be put in for continuous play and everyone stopping by for 15 minutes can learn a lot!.(The photo is just part of the gang around a show display.)

size=2 width="100%" align=center>

HOME - Back to Sweet Pines Apiary home page or look for us at www.tianca.com.

Contact Us: