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The Sun Hive - In the Form of the Bee

The Sun Hive (Weissenseifener Haengekorb) forms the core of the Natural Beekeeping Trust's commitment to bee guardianship.  Based on the principles of bee-centred apiculture, the Sun Hive is an ideal conservation hive for our pollinating friends the honeybee.  Although one may be favoured with some suplus honey from time to time, honey 'production' is not the main purpose of the hive.

Made from an ingenious combination of skep baskets woven from rye straw with wooden support structures, the Sun Hive is intended to be installed at a height of at least 2.5 metres (8 feet). The bees are thus in their aerial realm and fly above the heads of passing onlookers. The shape of the hive harmonises with the movement gesture of the bee colony and enables the bees to design their brood nests according to their own innate criteria.

The hive was designed by German sculptor, Guenther Mancke, and represents the fruits of many years of research into the nature of the honeybee colony. In the introduction to his book "The Sun Hive" he says: The impetus for its development came from the need to free the bees from a principle at once earthbound and cuboid, one that goes against every law of form - we are dealing here with laws that are particular expressions of a creature's life. There are many reasons for bees' present-day afflictions. We can be sure, however, that one of these reasons is the fact that the creature, as a physical and ethereal entity, can no longer live its life as it is meant to. Our attempts have therefore been directed at counteracting the debilitation of the bees' vital forces by means of those stabilising forces that are inherent in form. These latter forces act subtly in a generally therapeutic way on the living organism that is the colony, but they must be supplemented by methods of animal husbandry that abandon some of the old customs and replace them with new ones. On the one hand, the new skep we have developed allows the bee to live its life in a way that accords with its being, and on the other hand the system of movable combs offers the beekeeper the means of laying hand to the hive and taking any appropriate action that may be necessary. The Sun Hive is therefore an intermediate form between a fixed-comb hive and one with a movable comb system.


The Trust occasionally holds workshops to teach groups of people to make the hive; these are open to experienced beekeepers; beginners by arrangement - please contact us for further information.  The workshops - organised jointly by the Natural Beekeeping Trust and Tablehurst Farm - take place over two and a half days at our base in Sussex and involve weaving the straw skep baskets, which are built to precise measurements. The courses are led by Rachel Hanney, whose tutorial skills are unsurpassed and whose passion for the hive has inspired numerous beekeepers, who have joined our workshops from all over the world. Please meet her here. 


  • Images from previous workshops on our Facebook page
  • Sunhives and related initiatives by our friends wordwide here
  • The first swarm of the year 2012 introduced to a Sun Hive here 
  • A short film of the first inspection of a Sun Hive  here
  • Find out more about Tablehurst Farm
  • A beautiful foto documentation compiled by one of our students here

Brood comb of a sunhive colony