Keeping bees is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, with the bonus of some delicious honey at the end of the season. You can keep bees in an urban or country garden, on a sheltered rooftop or on an allotment, as long as you have lots of 'forage' plants nearby - plants that offer plenty of pollen.

In order to keep bees, you will need to invest in some kit, including, of course, a beehive. In the wild, bees make their nests in cavities in hollow trees and holes in rocks, and beehives were developed to make it easier for humans to collect bees' honey. Beehives are larger than the cavities that bees would nest in naturally, to encourage a swarm to stay.

There is a variety of beehives to choose from, but the the most common is the national beehive. At the bottom is the brood box, where the queen lives and lays eggs in cells. The top section is called the super and is where the honey accumulates. A queen excluder between the super and brood box ensures that the supers at the top contain only honey (and no eggs).

Monitoring varroa mite is essential for beekeeping. A good hive should also come with a varroa tray at the bottom of the hive, for monitoring any varroa that fall down from the hive.

There is a lot to learn when keeping bees, so before you embark on keeping them, it is a good idea to go on a beekeeping course.


The best bee hives to buy for your garden

AGS National beehive

AGS National beehive

This national beehive is made of top quality pine and comes flat packed for home assembly. It comes with a standard brood box and two super boxes with metal runners, a varroa floor (including mesh) with a slide out inspection tray, plus an entrance block with summer and winter holes. The roof has breather vents and a robust steel cover. This national bee hive does not include frames or beeswax foundation, which need to be purchased separately, from the same supplier.

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This national beehive measures 55cm x 54.9cm x 23.7 cm.

WBC Hive Empty Kit

Bee hive from National Bee Supplies

A traditional beehive with a classic look, this WBC hive is double-walled and would make a lovely garden feature. You can have this one delivered pre-assembled which is a bonus if you’d rather not have the hassle of building the hive yourself, but the option of purchasing it flat packed (for £345) is also available if you’re keen to roll up your sleeves.

Beehaus Beehive

Bee hive from Omlet

The Beehaus beehive is a great option if you have a rooftop space and fancy providing your bees with a modern pad. It is straightforward to use so it’s ideal if you’re new to the world of beekeeping.

There is space for as many as 22 frames and the hive comes with four supers. For easy handling and lifting, the super boxes are supposed to be lighter and smaller than more traditional bee hives.

The bright and cheery yellow colour works well if you want to add a vibrant splash of colour to your garden.

Cornish Top Bar Bee Hive

Bee hive from Heather Bell Honey bees

To give your bees a high-rise living space, bolt on legs can be added to this bee hive.

The kit includes a varroa mesh floor and inspection tray as well as a gabled roof that can be lifted off with one hand, so this hive has been created with beekeepers in mind.

If you fancy jazzing up the hive and tailoring it to your needs, you have the option of adding an observation window. You can also choose from a variety of paint colours from sage green to poppy red.

Easipet National Bee Hive

Easipet national beehive

This flat packed national beehive is made from top quality cedar. The pack contains a complete set of instructions so that you can build the hive easily yourself (it does not include nails). The pack contains an two super boxes, a brood box, entrance block with summer and winter holes, a varroa floor (including mesh) with a slide out inspection tray, metal runners, queen excluder and crown board with cut outs for two porter bee escapes. The attractive, gabled roof has an aluminium cover. You will need to buy brood frames and brood foundation sheets separately.


Katie DuttonStaff Writer

Katie is a Staff Writer for HomeStyle magazine and She previously worked on Gardens Illustrated magazine and has written for various other lifestyle magazines and brands. She particularly enjoys writing about indie and eco homeware brands, interior styles through the ages, urban gardening, and decor hacks for small spaces. She is also responsible for HomeStyle's buyer's guides, so you'll often find her testing out the latest homeware gadgets and kitchen appliances.