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Stewarton Octagonal Bee Hive

Designed in 1819, Robert Kerr's Stewarton hive was octagonal. He lived in Stewarton, Ayreshire and the name is derived from that.

Octagonal hives were not a new idea... The octagon is not far different from a circle and both circular skeps and wicker basket style hives had been in use for many centuries. Notable among those were William Mewe, John Gedde, Christopher Wren and Robert Hook

The boxes that were used to make up this type of hive were in two basic depths:-
Although the terms 'brood box' and 'super' were not used at the time, for simplicity I use them here.

The boxes used for brood were nominally 7" (178 mm) or 8" (203 mm) in height. Whilst shallow boxes of nominally 4" (100 mm) were used for honey storage.
Slide bars These were rebated to allow permanent retention, its is also probable that in the original equipment the slides would not be interchangeable. The modern production of these is accurate enough for complete interchangeability... If that was ever necessary.

Observation windows... We may think it quaint to have shuttered windows in hive boxes, but it was common in the 19th century and kerr's Stewarton had ?? windows in each honey box, that could be covered by sliding shutters.

Rev. Bartrum ... Outer cases

This page is part complete
If the missing information covered under this subject is of importance to you... please use the email button in the strap at page bottom to request early completion.


Will Messenger has been researching the Stewarton and other early designs of hive. He will actually manufacture one to order, but be prepared for a long lead time and a high purchase price.

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Originated... 13 Aug 2002