Originally Posted by chicken19
Thank you. Should I build my own hive or buy one?
It depends on what you're looking to do. Are you keeping bees to pollinate? Are you keeping bees for honey? Are you physically strong and foresee being strong for the next decade? How handy are you with tools? How accurate are you with cutting and forming? Do you have the right equipment to build your own or do you need to purchase tools to make the job faster/easier/safer? What's your budget? (A suit and smoker will cost about $125, bees are about $200 per starter nuc and up; hive equipment can be very pricey - foundation is $2+ a sheet when you include taxes, and shipping).
There's basically two types of hives - the white boxes (Langs) and topbar or Warre hives. Topbar and warre beekeeping is gaining in popularity because there's minimum storage of materials (everything's kept in the hive); one can make a hive in an afternoon; because it's typically made from materials on-hand the cost is lowert, etc. Langs are popular because it's standardized equipment which is available from multiple suppliers (warning - not all suppliers items fit together well!), but you have storage issues with 'spare' equipment; and the cost is fairly high; time to put the frames together alone can be high, let alone the boxes if you opt for flat shipping of your hives.
If you build a hive - what type of hive are you building?
For Langs, I recommend building what are called 'deeps'. A strong hive is 4-5 deeps tall - three for brood and stores for the bees, two for emergency honey and you take it in the spring if it's not used. However, a full deep - 10 frames - is about 100 lbs full. That's a lot of weight to work with. There are ways to work these large hives without hiring a full-time chiropractor to keep your back ok....but most folks don't teach this way any longer. They recommend 'mediums' - yes, lighter, but less healthy for the bees.
For topbar or warre hives. Easy, inexpensive - but you don't get the masses of honey off them like you would the Langs. You don't get the honey as much, because to obtain the honey, you must remove the comb and all - which is taxing on the hive's production overall. But if you're not in it for the honey - each top bar is about 8-10lbs to lift - and you don't really lift them out much at all (think searching through a closet for a favorite shirt - you move the hangers around, but rarely pull the hangers out).
If you buy equipment - used is sometimes tricky because there are diseases which can live in the hives wood. So if you buy new, ask around at www.beesource.com - they'll tell you what works and what doesn't.