CDB Beehive
Image credit: The Native Irish Honey Bee Society

Beginner’s Introduction to the CDB Beehive

With the many beehive types out there, it may at times be overwhelming to know what to settle for. For starters, the type of hive you choose to raise your honeybees in may impact directly your chances of succeeding in the business. Modern hives are ideally designed to make your work much easier as the beekeeper. One such choice is the CDB beehive, one that has been much hyped of late. Other popular choices among beekeepers include the Warre, Langstroth, British National, Top Bar hive, WBC hive, and many others.

As a general rule, always start small, irrespective of the style of hive you settle for. That way, you cushion yourself from hefty losses, if things do not go as you expected. This also provides an easy exit in case you reconsider shifting methods along the way. In this article, we shall delve into the nitty-gritty details of the CDB hive.

History of the CDB Beehive

‘CDB’ are initials that stand for Congested Districts Board. This is the committee that was set up to help tenant farmers in Ireland as well as Scotland. However, the brain behind the CDB beehive is Abbot Bros in 1894. The main intention behind the design of the hive was to meet the requirements laid down by Congested Districts Board. The design was aimed at countering the rain and winds that were common in the specific region in Ireland.

Features of the CDB Beehive

Some of the notable features of the original CDB beehive include:

A-shaped roof

This is accompanied by a ridge set up at 30 degrees slope on its top. This deep slope gives the roof some weight and ensures it does not blow off easily.


The floor and the stand are combined with 4 well-spaced legs for best stability. The distance between the legs are approximately 9 inches, this is similar to what you find in a WBC beehive.

Brood box

The brood box can hold 11 frames, designed in Abbot Style. Available also on the brood box is a rain shedding feature near the alighting board. An additional lift is provided to overlap the brood box by about half an inch. This is supported by internal cleats, with its main purpose being to act as a double wall that secures the brood box. This will come in handy during wet and cold months.


There are no supers but rather sections crates. These are placed inside the lift, above the brood chamber. The section crates can be substituted by doubling boxes. These are also referred to as super boxes and have the same internal dimension with the brood boxes. The only difference is that the super boxes are made of thinner material to make them fit snugly within the lift.

Queen excluder

There was no queen excluders in this hive design.

Winter ventilator

This 4-inch winter ventilator is positioned on the floor of the hive and can be closed during hot summer months. It has a flight board comparable to the WBC.

Benefits of the CDB Beehive

The double-walled CDB hive has some benefits such as:

1. Double Wall

Double-walled hives bring in some benefits along with the warmth the honey bee colony can enjoy. The bees do not have to work so hard in maintaining hive temperature within the required level. This will also help counter strong winds that can overturn the hive or even get through to the honey bee colony. Overall, the beehive is weatherproof. More so, its lift can be overturned and slid down to cover the brood chamber thus giving some extra protection during cold months such as winter. Furthermore, doing so will reduce the height of the hive, making it unreachable to the wind.

2. Imitates Wild Bee habitat

The CDB hive is designed to mimic the wild bee habitat. For instance, the absence of a queen excluder is meant to give the queen bee freedom to move around the hive and instinctively choose where to lay brood eggs. Most beekeepers do not like the idea of placing a queen excluder in a beehive. This has led to the term “honey excluders”, a term that depicts the worker bees focusing on the brood chamber instead of the honey supers/super boxes.

Bees tend to be more productive when human intervention is decreased to some extent. The bee colony is thus more productive when raised on a CDB beehive. In a natural beehive, the honeybees always store honey at the top of the beehive, while the brood is reared at the bottom. Honeybees instinctively do this. As for the CDB beehive, the frames super boxes or sectional crates have been placed on the top of the brood chamber. This, therefore, means the honeybees instantly feel at home when brought into this hive. They will make themselves at home and begin utilizing the available space.

3. Excellent Aeration

Good aeration is essential for the survival of the honeybee colony. It helps keep a check on the prevailing humidity and temperature inside the beehive. It is for this reason that the CDB hive is built with a winter ventilator that is closed during hotter months. The overall design of the beehive also ensures the hive is well-aerated.

4. Compact Vertical Design

The CDB beehive is quite simplistic and small by design. Its vertical design in particular makes it possible to have a number of these hives within a small space. Those with small spaces like the backyard can use this hive without being limited by the small space.

5. Very Stable

The CDB beehive has a stable base. The floor of the hive is combined with the 4 legs that spread 9 inches apart. This design makes the beehive very stable and will not easily topple over. This is particularly ideal when dealing with predators that easily overturn unstable beehives. The entrance to the hive is also tiny to discourage invaders from sneaking into the hive. It also helps prevent cold currents from getting into the bee colony.

6. A-shaped Roof

This is a design that ensures the hive is not easily blown off by heavy winds. The roof is elevated at 30 degrees which is ideal for securing the hive from strong currents.

7. Optimum Production

The CDB beehive comes with 11 Abbot-styled standard frames. These are sufficient for raising stronger honey bee colonies. This makes it possible for the honey bees to accumulate enough honey for the colony and still provide surplus honey for the beekeeper. The super boxes or section crates that are used instead of supers placed on the top of the brood chamber are made of thinner material and will perfectly fit inside the lift. This ensures maximum utilization of the available space inside the beehive. Ultimately, the colony’s productivity is greatly enhanced.

8. Elevated Hive

The CDB beehive features a stand with 4 well-spaced legs. These will help keep the beehive off the ground. This makes it so much easier to work on the hive. The hive is not too tall, but rather comfortable for most beekeepers irrespective of height.  The hive also stands firmly on the ground and is elevated in a manner that prevents grass and weeds from growing into the beehive entrance or gaps. Additionally, the elevated beehive becomes away from wet grounds which can cause the wooden structure to rot.

Pros and Cons of the CDB Beehive


  1. Great hive when it comes to heavy weather such as extreme winds and wet seasons.
  2. The CDB beehive boasts a decorative design that will complement your backyard.
  3. Mimics the wild honey bee habitat. There is no queen excluder.
  4. Ideal for raising productive honey bee colonies.
  5. Easy to manage.
  6. Well-secured and stable. It cannot be overturned by predators.
  7. Easy to inspect and harvest honey.
  8. An economical choice. Does not require sophisticated materials to make.
  9. You can DIY one at home.
  10. Ideal for anyone including those with small spaces.


  1. Some of its parts are made of thin pieces of wood.
  2. Has some extra weight when compared to hives such as the National hive.


The beginning of anything might not be easy, and the same applies to keeping honeybees. An investment in a beehive never comes cheap, whether you decide to buy individual components or get a starter kit. A much easier option would be to build your own hive from scratch. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to build their own hive.

The bottom line is that there is no easy path when it comes to getting started with keeping bees. Each of these options has its share of challenges and that will be apparent once you begin. It is however wise to ensure you consult with an expert if you feel uncertain of how or where to get started. Considering its features and benefits, the CDB beehive is definitely an excellent one for raising honey bees. It has been in use for years in Ireland and Scotland and can work anywhere else.

What are your thoughts on the CDB beehive? Leave a comment below and let us know.

About Michael Simmonds

Michael Simmonds is a beekeeper from the United States, with over 20 years of experience in the field. He developed a passion for beekeeping at a young age and started his own apiary when he was just 15 years old. Over the years, he honed his skills and gained extensive knowledge about honeybee biology and behavior.
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Eamonn Corcoran
Eamonn Corcoran
1 year ago

Sounds like an excellent choice for hobby type Beekeepers.
If the dimensions are slightly modified it can accommodate national supers. The double wall keeps the Bees very comfortable during cold wet winters.

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