I don’t know how many honey bees can live in a typical Langstroth hive. I’ve had experienced beekeepers tell me that 25,000 to 30,000 bees can live in a single deep super. Assuming that a typical Langstroth hive consists of two deep supers, that’s 50,000 to 60,000 bee per hive. I’ve heard those numbers thrown around more than once. But who was the first person to count the number of bees in a hive? How were those numbers confirmed? I have no idea.
This topic came up in a conversation I had with a someone on Google Plus today. I threw out the 50,000-bees-per-hive number I’ve been told many times, and then I immediately questioned it and decided to take some measurements and crunch my own numbers. This is what I came up with:
• Each deep frame has 3,300 cells on each side. I counted the cells on a sheet of plastic foundation. The exact number was 3,276, but I rounded up to 3,300 to account for the cells that are used to fill the edges of the frame.
• One bee-length is 3 cells long. How do I know? I went outside and brought in a five dead bees. The average length was 1.6cm, the exact length of 3 cells on the foundation. (I measured that too.)
• Therefore each side of a frame provides enough surface space for 1,100 bees.
• A frame has two sides, so that’s 2,200 bees per frame.
• 10 frames per box means 22,000 bees per box.
• Two boxes per hive = 44,000 bees.
That’s probably a more realistic number, at least for a hive with 10-frame spacing restricted to two deep boxes. I can imagine the population of my full hives got higher than 44,000 this year, especially after the honey supers gave them more room.
But does anyone have any hard data on the typical population of honey bees inside a Langstroth hive…? Anybody?