Advances in Bee Technology


Langstroth Two Box Comb Hive. Made by Utah Company, Eco Bee Box. Albert Chubak, 2018.

Beekeepers began experimenting with “upright” or “box hives” in the early-1800s. Unlike with skeps, bees did not attach the hive directly to the walls. However, they would make extra wax to cement the combs together. In 1851, Lorenzo Langstroth discovered the “bee space.” He found that when given 6–9 mm or 1438 inch between combs, the bees would not build extra comb for cement. Langstroth altered and enhanced previous designs for upright hives and patented his new “moveable” hive in 1852.


Hive Frames in Half Langstroth, or Nuc, Hive. Made by Utah Company, Eco Bee Box. Albert Chubak, 2018.

The Langstroth hive, still used by beekeepers today, consists of evenly spaced (6–9 mm or 1438 inch), removable, rectangular frames that bees build combs in. These frames hang vertically in upright boxes that are stacked. The removable frames give beekeepers easy access to honeycombs without destroying the bees or the hive. Additionally, beekeepers can readily inspect the bee colony for disease or parasites. 

The Langstroth hive revolutionized beekeeping. In a short time, moveable frame hives replaced skeps. Even though they were no longer used, skeps were, and still are, utilized as a meaningful symbol.

From the Arc-"hives": Skeps are primarily associated with Utah’s pioneers. However, pioneers hardly ever used skeps and only did so in the very early days of arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.


Utah Beekeeper, Christian Otteson with His Hives, circa 1900. Utah State Historical Society, 2008.