hive stands and structures

Hive stands that defy the wind

After last week’s post about wind-toppled bee hives, lots of beekeepers explained how they managed to reinforced their hive stands, and a few sent photographs. I’ve gathered the photos together below so you can take a look and “bee” inspired.

Nancy Baker

This is my summer set up. During hurricane season and through the winter storm season the hives have one ratchet strap going around each hive, side to side, and one front to back holding the hive to the stand. A local beekeeper makes the brackets that hold the 2 x 6 stringers to the t-posts. The t-posts are well set in the ground. This set up has withstood 20 MPH gusts and 30 MPH sustained winds. In our area most beekeepers anchor the hives to the ground in some form or fashion as we get at least one hurricane per season.

Hive stands that defy the wind.

© Nancy Baker.

Sonja Percival

I live in the high plains of Colorado. It’s very windy sometimes. I kept adding heavy rocks and bricks to the tops but the covers would still blow off. I now strap them down through the holes in the concrete blocks I use as a stand. I have the bottom board centered on each block so I have a strong base and can also use the block to set down a frame, hive tool, or whatever. It’s been working well for several years now.

© Sonja Percival.

James Hagerman

I have a hive stand design that I use for my hives that will solve the problem of hives blowing over. It involves a 4-by-6 or 4-by-4 post set in a post hole, sanded in to set. The post is cut at a 16- to 18-inch height and two cross members are lagged on the front face and back of the post. Over the two cross members I nail (2) 2-by-4’s the length of the hive for direct support. Set the hive over the 2-by-4’s, strap down as needed and let the wind blow.

That thing on the hive lid is a LED light with a photo cell that comes on at dark for illuminating the local skunks. I have noticed them poking around and it seems to put them off. Also fun to look at the hive in the backyard garden from our deck at night. The hive stand idea was originally about the clean look and how it looked in the landscape. I couldn’t help it with my architectural training and all.

© James Hagerman.

Click here for a diagram of James’ set up. © James Hagerman.

Keith Schultz

I built a bee shed. I am in Northern Michigan so the weather here is a bugger at times. The rain turning to ice and the wind and snow have been an issue. And near the ground there is a lot of dampness.

We happened to have some lumber getting old so I put it to good use. The shed has four 4-by-4 foot windows facing east, with 3 hives per window. The bee room is 14-by-20 feet. So wind rain, dampness, skunks, and ants are hopefully taken care of. I did see bear track at the shed, so now the way up is barb wire and nail boards.

© Keith Schultz.

© Keith Schultz.

© Keith Schultz.

© Keith Schultz.

© Keith Schultz.



  • Hi all

    For security and wind, strapping them to a heavy pallet is good. I think the disadvantages of placing hives on tall stands outweigh the advantages. Adding extra height to the hives, makes the work much more difficult. I use individual pallets about 4″ high, or pieces of scrap 2x4s which adds only an inch and a half.

    Pete ?

    • Pete,

      My permanent hive stands are engineer designed and built and they would probably withstand the uncapping of Mt. Rainier. However, they are about 18 inches high. If I put three supers on top of a double deep colony, I can’t even see inside. I have no idea what’s going on up there. And when they fill with honey, there is no way I can lift them off by myself. So, yes. I agree.

  • I put bricks on my covers because everyone says to, but so far (knock on wood, spit spit) wind doesn’t seem to be a problem here. I saw a neighbor’s hive with the top open, but they didn’t know if it was wind or animals.

    I do love that bee shed.

  • This is good stuff! Mine blew over after I first put them out, and now I’m using straps. This is the first winter, so we’ll see what happens.

    @James Hagerman, what is that device on the front of your hive, at the top? At first glance I thought it was a small solar panel, but I can’t tell. What is it, and what do you use it for, if I may ask?

    Thanks for another great article, Rusty!

    • Frank,

      James wrote, “That “thing” on the hive lid is a LED light with a photo cell that comes on at dark for illumination the local skunks. I have noticed them poking around and it seems to put them off. Also fun to look at the hive in the backyard garden from our deck at night.”

      I added his description to the post. Thanks for asking.

  • I have to ask. Is Keith building an apartment or a honey room under his shed? At first I thought maybe he routinely gets 8 feet of snow, but then I saw the additional construction.
    Will he leave the windows open all winter or close them off some?
    It looks fantastic.

  • Those are some great ideas…the shed, however, is bigger than my house, so I don’t think I’ll be building one real soon. I liked the post sunk into the ground, etc. That seems like it would really hold well…up til now I’ve been doing the pavers or heavy rocks thing, but I know one of these winters it won’t be enough… Thanks for the photos! (I live in N coastal CA).

  • There is a bee research team out of Chapel Hill or UNC in North Carolina that I think is studying neonics and places hives all over the country including hundreds in bear country. They use cargo straps and neither wind nor bears can topple them.

  • I had to chuckle at the comment about 20 mph wind w/ 30 mph gusts. That’s hardly even considered wind here. I like the idea that several beeks mentioned of strapping the hive around whatever base it’s sitting on; though I’ve never had a hive topple over either. I suppose it could be an issue in a hurricane or tornado. Having a good sturdy base that supports the hive as close to the front and rear seems to work well. It doesn’t seem logical to support the hive in the middle like a teeter-totter (sp?).

    (PS- Rusty, I could not see how to place a pic w/ this)

  • When I started early this year, everything (I thought) I read/heard/learned was to raise the hives enough to keep raccoons and skunks (et al) from having too easy a time getting to the hives. I decided to use the “cinder blocks on end with 4 x 4 rails” method. Is it actually better to have the hives lower to the ground? (On the other hand, at my age, I’m liking not having to bend over so much.)

    • Frank,

      There is no right answer. Everything in beekeeping is a give-and-take. Given a choice, a bee colony likes an entrance about 8 to 12 feet up, but as you know, they do fine lower down. Raccoons and some other creatures are not put off by a few feet of space. I’ve got raccoons here dropping out of trees to get to the hives. They will always find a way. So what it comes down to is what works for you. I like my hives up off the ground when they are short in winter, and I like them down low when they tower above me in summer. It’s up to you, but I can almost guarantee there is no perfect height because hive height varies with the season.

  • I should have gone further back in my beekeeping history! My hives withstood Hurricane Matthew, which we clocked in as sustained winds of 60 MPH for 6 hours with some gusting. Total storm was over 10 hours. My mind was full of the freak windstorm we had 2 weeks ago where out of the clear blue we got 30 MPH gusts from 3 different directions in 30 minutes. That mini-storm did more damage than Irma!

    • Nancy, what kind of t-posts do you use? That looks a lot less labor intensive than my plan to dig postholes for my stands next spring. Is there a particular gauge, length or spec I should purchase? Thank you for sharing your solution 🙂

  • I’ll reply on the shed.

    Size is only 14 feet x 20 feet it looked big until I started putting the bees in. I have 12 hives in it and 8 of them are 8 Frame and 4 are 10 frame. It would not hold 12 of the 10 frame. we Plan to store lumber and implements under the roofs and main structure. I have a tiller and brush hog that would do better out of the rain and snow. I still have the other roof to install but ran out of time this year. the little window on the end will have a work table the same height as the window and I plan to put together NUCs on the table and just slide them over to the window. for queen breeding. the windows are going to never have glass, with glass the bees would gather on the window like flies do and perish. By the end of November, The ends will be blocked with 1/2 plywood, the windows are 4 feet wide to make the materials come out better. the front windows have the awnings, the last 2 are done just not put up. The awnings are adjustable, up in the summer for air flow and down in the winter for weather buffer. I have cut 4- 2 foot by 4 foot 1/2 plywood for the front windows so the bees will not have direct wind on the entrance but will have a 8 to 10 inch hole for winter elimination flights. In the spring I will, in phases remove the blocked window covers. I will attempt to get some winter pics and send to Rusty to add to the collection. It was a labor of love. I like wood working and building things. Most of my hives are homemade. I am thinking of a long top bar type single height hive placed in front of one of the end windows, made to look like a table with a work top, for a future project. Then I can fit one more hive in the same space. Or maybe one of those bee beds 🙂

    Keith Schultz

  • Wonderful pictures and wonderful ideas!! My concern is that hives shouldn’t be in the path of winter wind even if they are strapped down. The winter wind can chill the hive (especially nucs!) and a better idea is to put hay bales around the sides and back of the hive if there is nothing else to block the wind.

  • The picture by James Hagerman. What is the little plastic piece at the top of the hive that is sticking out? Looks like it collects? Also is one of the layers at the top a moisture board or candy board?

    Thank you so much. Rusty I love your information and look forward to reading the Honeybeesuite when it arrives in my mailbox.


    • Tammy,

      That thing on the hive lid is a LED light with a photo cell that comes on at dark for illuminating the local skunks.

  • OMG! I’m jealous of the bee hive shed!

    I live in Santa Fe, NM and the winds get gusty. I have my top bar hives in stands that let wind pass through plus I add pavers on top of the roof…and bungee cords/straps. No losses so far!

  • To discourage skunks, I twist up chicken wire and peg it to the ground in a few places. My hives are on pallets. If hives are at 18”, the skunks get their tummies stung!!

  • This year, the beekeeper who puts the hives in our backyard is leaving 4 hives to see how they do over winter. I will be building stands for them, trapezoid so the feet are wider than the hive, and a layer of foam insulation under the bottom of the hive for insulation as the hive will be off the ground by some amount (probably around 12 inches), We will see what happens. The 12 hives this year together produced around 800+ pounds of honey – is that good or bad?


    • Fred,

      I don’t know. You have to compare your averages with the averages in your area. Every place is different.

  • This is such a great subject! And I’m glad it’s being addressed. I have been thinking long and hard about how I’m going to secure my stands to. My ground is just about solid rock and digging a hole is out of the question.

    I’m thinking I’m gonna build my stand but put a t-post behind the stand and strap the hive around the stand and to the t-post. Every hive will have its own t-post.

    We folks here in Arkansas have hurricane force straight line winds and micro burst storms so it gets violent at times. Plus I plan on building a pallet wood fence as a wind break.

    The t-post idea kinda gives me pause because if the hive rocks it can move boxes around and the core of the hive could get exposed. But I think rocking and moving about, is better than crashing to the ground!

    Thanks, Rusty,
    You’re a gem 😉

    • Vivian,

      Well, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe you can find a local person to do it. Have you asked around at your local beekeeping club? Surely someone does a bit of welding.

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