Queen marking colour for 2017 - YELLOW

BeeBase British Beekeepers Association

Nationals usually have a flat roof which can be turned upside down and used to rest hive parts on. The hive is square so hive boxes can be warm way or cold way, i.e. frames sit parallel (warm way) or at right angles (cold way) to the entrance.

The majority of National hives are bottom bee space but they can be manufactured with top bee space.

The National hive


The National hive, sometimes called the British Standard National (but British Standard no longer exists) or Modified National. This single walled hive is widely used by beginners as it has long lugs on the frames which make the frames easier to handle. The brood box takes 11 frames 14” wide by 8½” high.  It is most convenient to adopt a self spacing Hoffman frame and take up the space left in the brood box with a dummy board.

This amount of comb is adequate for a moderately strong colony but not sufficient for a very prolific colony. However, you can always use two brood boxes, which may make colony inspections more difficult but provides more convenience for swarm control and other hive manipulations.

Alternatively you could use a ‘brood and a half’, that is a brood box plus a super used for brood (not recommended as the two frame sizes are not interchangeable) or you could upgrade to 14” x 12”, a Deep National.  The extra depth yields a comb area similar to a Commercial (see 14 x 12 and Commercial slides).

This model of hive therefore has plenty of options to suit your beekeeping.

Which Hive?

There is a bewildering selection of hive types to choose from.  How do you decide which one is right for you, especially if you are a Beginner?

In the East Devon area there are mainly four types of hive in use by hobbyist beekeepers, and as you are more likely to obtain bees on frames from one of them we will consider these four types.

They are:

National,   National 14 x 12,   WBC,   Commercial

Hive data


National 14 x 12



Brood frame

14” x 8½”

14” x 12”

14” x 8½”

16” x 10”

Super frame

14” x 5½”

14” x 5½”

14” x 5½”

16” x 6”

Frames / brood box





Cells / brood box





Lug length






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