Starting With Multiple Hives

With a single hive, we lose many options as beekeepers

One question all beginner beekeepers face is just how many hives they should install when starting out. While there are many questions a new beekeeper will need to consider, this is one of the more important. An apiary can consist of just one hive. But even if your goals and motivations are to maintain a small operation and to keep bees as a hobby, having only one hive misses a great deal of opportunity.

Beehives in a field
Multiple beehives in a filed

Why complicate matters with additional hives when you already have so much to consider as a new beekeeper? The simple answer, believe it or not, is it makes things easier.

No two beehives are the same. With just one hive, and as a beginner, it will be very difficult to tell if your hive is in trouble or if you have a strong, booming hive. With two or more hives, direct comparisons are possible. This can help a beekeeper identify and address problems and, critically, before it’s too late.

Additionally, two or more hives allows resources to be moved between hives. With the removable, cross-compatible frames of the modern beehive (given the standardized dimensions of the Langstroth hive), bees and/or honey stores can be moved from a strong to a weak hive. As an example, if one hive has a failing queen, brood frames from a strong hive can be swapped in and hopefully a new queen will be raised.

Having more than one hive allows you to learn faster, accelerating your knowledge as a beekeeper and increasing the chance of over-wintering colonies. So, we strongly recommend starting with at least 2 hives, putting you on the right track towards long-term, year-on-year success.