The Freedom Hive

FREEDOM_HIVES_BEE_KIND_HIVES_MATT_SOMERVILLE_March_2016_photo_Mark_Somerville (6) copybw

The “Freedom” hive is a new development by Bee Kind Hives for 2016.

It has the advantages of using log hives but weighing only 17kgs, can be hoisted easily into trees or put on a tripod stand.

The hive body is a 12 sided cylinder with a volume of 55 litres.

I make the hives from Western red Cedar which is a light durable timber with good insulation properties.

The sides of the hives are a combination of wood/compressed shavings/wood to give thick warm insulation with an inspection board on the base and a thick cedar board on the top from which the bees will build their comb downwards.


The  inner layer is made of rough sawn cedar which is encourages the bees to deposit propolis, vital for their health.

Comb and propolised walls

A freedom hive on a stand with a conical straw hat or”hackle”.

Or strapped to the trunk of a tree

Entrances are three one inch holes. The top is just over halfway up and this is where bees tend to take in the pollen and nectar, using the bottom hole for ventilation, especially fanning away moisture when ripening honey.

58 thoughts on “The Freedom Hive”

    1. Yes in theory. Bees like us, prefer a position that is sheltered and facing South East to get the morning sun (northern hemisphere). They can be put on stands but I am busy putting them up about 3m in Oak trees. More posts will follow on how this done.

    1. The price is on the website. A basic hive is £550 and £150 is for legs and a hackle, straw hat. Delivery and help setting it up is possible depending on location,

    1. Hello Dolly, Not at present but if you were able to work out the shipping ,I would be happy to.
      Best Wishes

  1. Matt,

    I would be interested in purchasing the plans for your Freedom Hive and to begin making them available in the USA. I have spoken to Heidi Hermann and she thinks that if it is alright with you it would be a wonderful thing to get them in use in the US. I also sent you an email on 09/09/2016 with regards to this.
    Thanks for your time and consideration.


  2. Are these allowed in the US? My understanding is that the frames or combs must be removable for inspection for disease/pest control in order to be considered “legal” hives.

    1. Hi Leslie
      Living in England I have to say I don’t know the laws in the US but then I would suggest that the bees don’t know either. What we are trying to do is give the bees a habitat where they can survive through natural selection away from the manipulations of Humans. So in a sense you are not a “beekeeper” if you put up a log hive and bees make the decision to move in by themselves.. They are wild creatures and should be treated the same as if we put up an owl box. There are many people who are doing this already in your country or have them occupy their buildings. Have you come across Micheal Thiele, Gaia bees?

    2. Hi Leslie, did anyone find out if these are legal in the US? Inspectors of trees or bees? Curious to know if the need to inspect beehives defeats the purpose of a natural, man-free bee saving operation, no?

  3. Do you have to put sticks across the top to give the bees something to draw comb on?

    1. Hello Tom,
      I don’t put any sticks or top bars for the bees to draw comb as I assume that the bees wouldn’t have it in a wild hollow tree and so let them decide how they want to arrange their comb. When I set up the hive I do place some old brood comb in the top board which is in line with the entrance holes. However I have noticed that the bees pull this down and grow fresh comb attaching it to the top board.
      I have also put some spales about 8″ down for them to grow comb round which might help in supporting it. This again probably isn’t necessary as it wouldn’t be in a natural hollow.
      I hope this helps,
      best wishes

  4. Hello, How is the floor of the hive constructed? Do you have a removeable “varroa” drawer? Do you have a mesh installed? Kind regards. Erik.

    1. Hello Erik,
      The floor of the hive is solid wood, which can be dropped to clean if necessary. I do not treat any of the hives for Varroa, and I don’t have significant winter losses or cases of DWV. When I look at the floor occasionally I don’t see significant numbers to worry about..
      The bees originate from wild swarms which may have already adapted to living in balance with varroa. I also don’t keep multiple hives in one area which also helps reduce the spread of diseases.
      I hope this helps answer your question.

  5. hello

    I know this will sound incredibly naive but I know nothing about keeping bees, yet I have a huge desire to have a Freedom Hive in my large rural South Yorkshire garden just for the sake of giving bees a home, helping them survive and live how they want to live. I’m not interested in imposing my will on them or taking any honey from them. I am very interested in minimal intervention!

    Would a Freedom hive work for me? What would be required of me to keep one?

    I think the construction of this hive is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

    Many thanks

  6. What are the rough dimensions? It looks like it’s 4′ tall and about 12 across. It also looks like the outside wall is 1″ thick and the inner wall is much thinner.

    I’m in the US and I make all my own equipment and lots of habitats for preserves in my local area. I’d like to wing it and put a few of these up in the preserve down the road from me.

    1. Hi Mark, The rough dimensions are length 32″ width 18″. The outer wall is 1″ and the inner wall 3/8″. I am sure you can work out how to make them from the photos.
      For more help email me at

  7. Hi Matt,

    I’m going to try and build one of your Freedomhives.
    The design seems quite clear to, except for the entrace holes.
    I was wondering if you use some kind of tube or the likes, because if I would just drill through the walls, the bees will enter the space between the two walls.
    How did you make this work?

    Thank for sharing your knowledge and enthousiasm. I hope to be able to do the same in The netherlands.

    1. Hi Toon,
      Thanks for getting in touch. The solution is quite simple. The gap between the outer wall and the inner timber is about 40 mm. So I make some timber the same thickness and put this on the inside before I place the inner wood sleeve and fill with shavings. Then when all done I can drill holes through “solid timber”.

  8. Beautiful design and respectful approach to Bee Stewardship. Thank You for sharing. I do hope we can make some to use here, in the USA.

    1. No, these are conservation hives. They are for the bees to produce healthy workers drones and a community of bees adapted to the local environment. In the UK I have had success in bees populating these by themselves and thriving with out interference from man.
      I catch swarms from these to use in golden hives… Post will be written shortly about this in more detail.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, I havent had much trouble with wasps. I tend to put them up in late Spring after queen wasps have chosen where to nest and bees occupy them normally in the first year. Of course there will be exceptions!

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