There is a reason why bees choose to make their hives in trees, and it’s not for humans to find them more easily. Honey bees often select trees for their hives because of the relative safety of being up high rather than on the ground. So why do beekeepers insist on keeping hives on the ground? Here’s everything you need to know about bee hive stands, including which five picks are worth the money.
Our Top Picks for the Best Beehive Stands
- Bee Smart Designs Ultimate Hive Stand
- Mann Lake HD-709 Adjustable Hive Stand
- Harvest Lane Honey Plastic Bee Hive Stand
- Toughtimbers 10-Frame Hive Stand
- Janolia Beehive Frame Holder
Why Do I Need a Beehive Stand?
Although most beekeepers make their bees’ safety a priority, there’s only so much a honey bee can do to protect itself against predators. Therefore, the primary role of the beekeeper is to make sure the honey bees have a safe hive to live and produce honey in. Here’s why beekeepers (and their bees) need beehive stands.
Protection from Predators
All kinds of predators, from birds and reptiles to bears, love to eat honey and can potentially destroy the hives. Fortunately, a beehive stand can help mitigate some of the risks to honey bees’ wellbeing.
A hive that is higher off the ground will keep smaller predators from accessing the entry points. Small rodents cannot enter if the stand keeps them from climbing up, and insects have longer to travel the higher up a hive is.
Many stands also offer the benefit of reduced contact of the hive with the ground. Fewer points of contact mean fewer access points for termites and other unwanted visitors. Plus, with a secure hive, bees can spend less time stressing out and trying to protect themselves and more time focusing on making honey.
Weathering the Conditions
Hive stands can also protect beehives from environmental conditions. If the ground is soggy, for example, the hive may not dry out enough for the bees to live comfortably. A wet home isn’t an optimal place for honey production, and severe weather conditions that involve flowing water may even carry the hive away.
With a hive stand, streams of water can flow under and around the hive without disturbing the bees. A weighted stand can also prevent the hive from toppling over if winds are heavy. These measures may prevent hive loss and keep them from rotting or otherwise becoming unhealthy for honey bees to live in.
Bees also benefit from the adequate airflow, since honey-making is a delicate process. Too much wetness and the bees won’t be as efficient at making honey. Giving bees the best environment in which to work involves enough airflow that the humidity remains at a desirable level.
Temperature is another concern with honey bees. Many beekeepers have experienced loss of hives due to placement on cold surfaces such as concrete or frozen ground. Keeping a hive on a stand may eliminate contact temperature issues whether heat or cold is the problem.
Beekeeping can prove a dangerous endeavor, but it’s not only because bees can sting. Moving around the beehives and tending to the bees can put stress on a beekeeper’s body. Especially when beehives are on the ground, excessive stooping, crouching, and kneeling can prove hard on the joints, no matter your age.
A beehive that is higher off the ground can be easier to maintain while also easier to access for human visitors. You may also notice that your hives and the surrounding materials benefit from increased airflow and circulation, which can help prevent dry rot, mold, and other problems.
What to Look for in a Beehive Stand
Bees have a lot to offer their keepers, but part of the responsibility of a beekeeper is keeping the hive safe from predators and environmental dangers. For that reason, a beehive stand is a crucial piece of beekeeping equipment. Here’s what to look for when shopping for beehive stands.
Although beehive stands that use natural materials are often friendlier to the environment, you will also want a stand that will not break down in the elements. A rusty or rotten beehive stand won’t hold up your hive, and you may have to replace the materials more often if you live in a humid or cold climate.
Many hive stands use recycled materials in their construction, and in some cases, the materials are from a sustainable source. Consider the materials when shopping for a stand, and keep in mind that there is a balance between environmentally friendliness and functionality.
Many wood stands, for example, are sustainable or recycled, but a weather-proof coating can help protect them against the elements. Often, recycled plastic helps molded stands to resist warping and weathering.
Most commercial ranches or farms must keep their hives at a specific height to meet certification standards. For home beekeepers, however, it’s up to you how high to place the hives. But keep in mind that naturally, bees will settle higher off the ground whenever possible.
Elevating beehives not only keeps potential pests away from the honey, but it can also protect your bees from predators. For example, skunks enjoy eating bees and their larvae. For homesteaders who deal with skunks often, the higher, the better when it comes to your hives.
Plus, keeping bees off the ground makes it easier for them to defend against termites, ants, mice, or any other critter that wants in. Depending on your local climate, you may also want to keep bees above snow level. However, if you have a secure location for your bees that is free from predators, a lower hive may prove more beneficial.
Also, consider how tall you want your hives to reach. While many beekeepers stack hives one on top of the other, that might mean you will need a ladder to access the top. For many beekeepers, the idea of climbing a ladder in full protective gear is an unwelcome one. Therefore, you may need to spread out your hives if you currently have them in stacks beginning at ground level.
Although most homesteaders are capable of building a rudimentary beehive stand, store-bought stands offer higher functionality. For example, some models can snap together to hold multiple hives together. Other models may work with hives that have different size bottom boards.
Also, consider whether you want a hive stand that requires assembly or one that arrives ready to use. Some products may arrive folded and set up quickly, while other models might need tools to assemble.
Along with the materials and assembly of the stand, also think about how heavy the stand will be. If you must transport the materials a long way to set up your hives, a lightweight stand may prove a better fit. However, if weather or predator conditions mean you need a sturdier base, then a more substantial frame might be more efficient.
5 Best Beehives for Homesteaders
While a large-scale beekeeping facility may need to follow the rules and regulations when it comes to height and location of hives, homesteaders and other small-scale beekeeping operations have more freedom. Therefore, making the right choice for your beehives is important for maintaining the health and production of your hives. Here are our top five choices for beehives for homesteaders.
Bee Smart Designs’ Ultimate Hive Stand raises the hive a full foot off the ground and uses recycled materials that are naturally pest-resistant. A built-in drain also helps keep the hive and its components dry.
With large foot pads plus ballast ports for added sand or water, Bee Smart Designs’ hive stand allows you to add weight to keep the stand stable. This is ideal for windier environments or other unpredictable locations.
Assembly promises to be quick- under two minutes- and requires only a screwdriver. Along with the recycled plastic frame, metal rails support and distribute the weight of the hive. The frame holders swing out for easy access to the hive bodies.
- Fits any bottom board
- Technopolymer construction with textured surface resists wear
- Uses recycled materials
- Built-in drains
- Minor assembly required
A simple design that lifts the hive 6.5 inches from the ground, Mann Lake’s HID-709 Adjustable Stand is compatible with both 10-frame and 8-frame hive bottoms. The construction is like that of a bed frame, with frame pieces, brackets, and small hardware.
Thanks to its steel construction, the frame is relatively lightweight while maintaining its strength. However, its weight-bearing capacity comes down to how securely you fasten the hardware, so some technical knowledge may help with assembly.
One universally positive feature is the round “feet” at the base of the frame, which resist sinking into the ground and allow for the application of pest deterrent at the base of the hive.
- Compatible with two sizes of bottom boards
- Zinc-plated steel resists weathering
- Sturdy circular “feet” won’t sink in soft soil
- Assembly required
- Relatively low height
Heavy-weight plastic and metal hive rest comprise Harvest Lane Honey’s Plastic Bee Hive Stand. The four pieces slide together without tools, making assembly simple, and the metal rests help distribute the weight of the hive across the entire surface.
The stand lifts a hive 12 inches off the ground, securing bottom board with four screws for a snug fit. The metal rests distribute the weight of the hive and allow for frames to hang on the side, eliminating the need for additional equipment.
Although its “feet” are relatively narrow, the four contact points help reduce pathways for pests to travel. And while the plastic frame is of heavier construction, it still allows for airflow beneath the hive thanks to cutouts in the material.
- Tool-free assembly
- Frames can hang on the metal hive rest
- Some assembly required
- Relatively narrow “feet”
If you hope to keep your beehives closer to the ground but want to prevent bees from missing the entrance on the way in, Toughtimbers’ 10-Frame Hive Stand fits the bill.
A wood frame that arrives in pieces with pre-drilled holes and all the hardware you need, this stand is a quick fix for accessibility issues that bees might face when carrying lots of nectar. It raises the stand just a few inches, but the pine boards are smooth and clearly marked for assembly.
Pre-drilled nail holes and the accompanying hardware make assembly quick. For extra durability, you might consider applying a weatherproof coating on the pine boards before assembling.
- Low stand specifically for easing bees’ entry
- Solves bee access issues and keeps hives looking clean
- No predator protection from larger critters
- Assembly required
If space-saving is your goal, Janolia’s Beehive Frame Holder can help eliminate the need for storage space. The stainless steel frame allows you to hang up to three frames on the side of existing beehives, saving space.
The weather-resistant steel frame resists bending, breakage, and weather conditions to keep your hive functional year-round. Two clips fasten the frame to the edge of your hive, and the fitting will also work if you place your hives on top of stands before use.
If you have limited space for your beekeeping endeavors, combining one of Janolia’s beehive frame holders with your existing hive setup can help save space and make maintenance of your hives easier. You can also avoid disrupting the bees further by using the side rack space rather than traveling across your field or garden with the frames.
- Frees up storage space
- Holds up to three frames
- No assembly required
- Does not raise hives, only adds storage space
There are many steps beekeepers can take toward ensuring happy, healthy, and productive bees. Fortunately, beehive stands are an easy first step toward better honey production and increased safety for your honey bees.
Don’t forget to increase your own personal safety when dealing with your bees. Nothing sucks more than trying to help out the little yellow fellas and getting stung for the favor. If you’re looking to stock up on beekeeping equipment then check out these reviews we did:
- Best Ventilated Bee Protection Suits for Sale
- 5 Best Beekeeping Hive Smokers
- Best Honey Extractors
- 9 Best Bee Feeders
Taking your unique beekeeping setup into consideration, adding one of these bee hives stands to your operation might be worth the investment, especially if you are noticing production or bee health problems in your hives. A stand may also make your job easier when it comes to collecting honey and keeping your bees’ homes clean and organized.