Bees build hives in trees and elsewhere without the thought that this will be their “permanent” home, according to beekeeping expert Jim Tew.

Tew spoke to the Blount County Beekeepers Association August meeting on Aug. 11. One of his presentations concerned why colonies are “stressed,” and in explaining that he talked about what happens when bees build their own hives.

This five-minute video shows that part of the presentation:



Tew made the following points:

  • In nature, there is no “standard” hive.
  • Unlike what humans want bees to do, bees in nature build hives for the short term, not the long term.
  • To build a natural hive, bees look for a cavity of about one cubic foot, dry, not on the ground and with a defendable entrance.
  • The boxes that humans build and put bees into does not offer a lot of protection for the bees.

In 2011 Tew retired after 34 years as the Ohio State Extension Beekeeping Specialist at Ohio State Univ. He has taught and has conducted applied research on honey bees and their behavior, specifically pollination behavior.

He writes monthly articles for Bee Culture and has written two books,Beekeeping Principles and Backyard Beekeeping. He enjoys woodworking, photography and feeding ungrateful birds. He can be reached at:, and

Previous articles about Tew’s presentation to the BCBA are here:

Tew: Beekeeping is different from what it was 30 years ago

Beekeeping expert Tew talks about bees and their environment at August BCBA meeting


Key words: bees, beehives, natural beehives, beehives that bees build, Jim Tew, Ohio Stat University, Alabama Extension Service, permanent homes for bees, casting swarms, Bee Culture magazine