From a library book we learned that this type of hive is quite common in Africa. Beekeepers like it because the bees build the honeycomb directly onto a set of slats/bars that lay across the top of the box. See pictures below.
This makes harvesting honey quite easy. You also get a lot more beeswax for making candles that way. I am thrilled by the idea of making candles. I think this would be a great activity to do with children in the cold winter months.
The first set of pictures shows the bees being put in their new home on the day of their arrival in our backyard April 19th.
The second set shows the hive less than a month later. Watching the bees every day, I came to a much better understanding of the phrase "busy as a bee". They are such cool animals. The children are very excited. Every day they run outside and check on the progress of our new pets. 10 000 of them... Contrary to what most people seem to believe, honey bees are very peaceful. Nobody in the family has been stung or bothered by them. They go about their work every day never paying any attention to us watching or even standing close by.
We even got a little lick of honey when we opened the hive. Yummy!
I will keep you posted on the first harvest!