Why Do Managed Honey Bee’s Live In Boxes?

Some have asked this question – why do beekeepers keep their honey bees in wooden boxes?

Honey bees prefer sheltered, darkened areas to build their nest. A tree cavity is a common natural site for finding honey bees, even though they will select many different areas – sometimes in house walls!

Even though most honey bees live in live tree cavities that create fungal action on the inner wood – managed honey bees are placed in thick wooden boxes(in most cases) – these boxes are best if not treated wood – but rather untreated wood like cypress, pine, or others.

While true that some species of honey bees live outside – this happens in much warmer areas near the equator. In regions like the United States, managed honey bees are kept in wooden beehives; the most commonly used is Langstroth hives.

Remember that managing honey bees have been going on for thousands of years! The earliest known records of “managed honey bees” are found in Egypt, where honey bees were kept in pottery containers. These containers and others were primitive since the honey bee’s nest would have to be destroyed in order to extract honey. The Bible often references honey in many areas; the promised land was expressed as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Honey has been a part of the human diet for many years!

In the mid-1800’s Lorenzo L Langstroth invented a way to keep honey bees, and during extraction, the colony would remain intact! This was revolutionary. He did so much research on honey bees biology that the current Langstroth hives we use today are very similar in design since the late 1800’s!

So, why have the managed hives we use today similar since the late 1800’s? Because they consider the biology of the honey bees and the need for honey extraction in a single design.

Research has shown that the more the honey bees managed home is closer to a natural site, the better the honey bee’s health will be. This is what Lorenzo Langstroth did, and others are doing.

The main modification to the Langstroth hives design we sell considers this same logic. One of the things we do is carve out tree-like groves on the inside of all boxes of our hives. In nature, honey bees will ‘seal’ the interior of their home(where these groves are) with propolis, which research has shown increased the immune system of honey bees.

Honey is here to stay, and the wooden boxes for managed hives will most likely be the system we use for a long, long time since it considers the balance between a need for honey and the health of the honey bee.


  1. The Beekeepers Bible: pages 59 – 63
  2. Honey Bee Biology: page 17

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