Think of the modern beehive as an expanding multistorey factory increasing in height as the bees require more space. Each 'floor' performs certain tasks but all work together as a single entity. As the colony grows, extra 'levels' are added to accommodate the work force and provide a warehouse storage for the honey. During autumn the height is reduced as the population declines, reducing the heating bill.
The beehive is made of certain key components. It consists of a floor board, a brood chamber, honey box (known as a super), frames, a roof covering and of course the colony of bees. A queen excluder and division board are optional extras and sometimes used by the beekeeper.
Up until recently, these components were made of wood. Today plastic hive parts are available. Some amateur beekeepers are using plastic hive ware as it offers an easier non construction solution when getting started. 'Older' traditional wooden materials are in wide use and 'preferred' by the bees. In nature bees select hollow tree trunks to live. Some commercial apiaries are moving toward plastic.
Working from the bottom up, on top of the floorboard is placed the brood chamber (2 boxes), a queen excluder, a honey super (box), division board and a roof covering.
A basic beehive consists of a floor, frames, a brood chamber, honey boxes and a cover.