Helpful books, information sheets, and images about observation hives


An observation hive found on website
Photo of an observation hive by Tom Rearick at Used with permission.

If you search the internet for "images of observation hives" you will find a vast number of them. Most of these images are of the same few commercially-available observation hives, or of homemade variations on these same themes.


However, it seems that creative beekeepers have also made observation hives in every imaginable size and shape, using every available transparent material. Some of these observation hives hold just a single frame, others are full-size hives with windows in their sides, and still others have no relation to any standard hive.

Among this multitude of images, there are also several good instruction sheets listing things you should consider when purchasing or building and operating an observation hive.




Information Sheets

Starting an Observation Hive of Honey Bees - University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Observation Hives as described by Michael Bush
Improved Ulster Observation Hive -
Building and Operating an Observation Beehive by WL Gojmerac and MW Allington (a PDF file)
Constructing an Observation Bee Hive - University of Florida IFAS Extension
Vital Stats and Materials List for Four-Frame Observation Hive by Howland Blackiston
Setting up an Observation Hive - North Carolina State Department of Entomology (a PDF file)
Practical Beekeeping - Observation Hives - by JD Yates, reprinted on the APIS UK website
Observation Hives - Beekeeping in a Nutshell - by JD Yates, reprinted on



There are two books currently available in English about setting up, maintaining, and using observation hives:

New version now available at! Linton, F. 2017. The Observation Hive Handbook, published by Cornell University Press

• Webster, T., and Caron, D. 1999. Observation Hives, published by the A. I. Root company

A third book is aimed at beekeepers with a woodworking shop who are interested in designing and building their own observation hive:

• Middendorf, W. 2016. Observations HIves: Design and Construction, published by William J. Middendorf


There's a lot going on in a honey bee colony; with an observation hive you will get to see it. To get a better understanding of what you are looking at, I recommend these two books:

• Winston, M. L., 1987. The Biology of the Honey Bee, published by Harvard University Press
• Seeley, T. D., 1995. The Wisdom of the Hive, published by Harvard University Press


Of course the classic beekeeping references are also practically a requirement:
The Hive and the Honey Bee
The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture
Both are available from beekeeping suppliers and online booksellers.



Videographer Phil Frank has constructed an observation hive in his kitchen. He describes it in a video here:

View this video on Vimeo.



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On the website, a moderated forum on observation hive construction and management.



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