Structure of the Colony of Bees

A domesticated colony of bees is usually housed in a rectangular hive body, in which eight or ten parallel frames house the honeycomb’s vertical plates, which contains the larvae, egg, pupae, and food for the colony. If you will cut a vertical cross-section through the hive, the brood nest would look like an ovoid ball covering five to eight frames of comb. The two combs outside at each side of the hive tend to be used exclusively for long-term storage of pollen and honey.

Within the central brood nest, one frame of comb will typically have a central disc of larvae, eggs, and seated brood cells which may widen almost to the frame’s edges. Above the brood patch are cells filled with pollen which extend from side-to-side, and above that a wider arch of cells filled with honey extends to the top of the frames.

Aside from the honey stored in the central brood frames, the bees keep extra honey in combs that are above the brood nest. In modern beehives, the beekeepers put ‘supers,’ separate boxes, above the brood box, where shallower combs are provided for storage of honey, enabling the beekeepers to remove some of the separate boxes during late summer. This also enables the beekeepers to extract the excess honey harvest, without destroying the bee colony and its brood nest below. If all the honey is harvested, including the quantity of honey required to survive winter, the beekeepers must substitute these stores by giving the bees corn syrup or sugar during autumn.