Ratcliff Horizontal Hives

Handmade in California

Finely Crafted and Functional Horizontal Langstroth Hives


The Ratcliff Horizontal Hive offers big advantages to both bees and beekeeper.  First and foremost our hives are built with thick walls and a generous well-insulated roof.  This reduces the thermal regulation challenge facing the bees, a challenge which is substantially greater in typical Langstroth boxes than in hollowed out logs and other natural environments where bees have evolved to make their homes.  The Ratcliff Horizontal Hive is built to insulate and protect your bees from the extremes of all seasons, making for happier and healthier bees that, ideally, require less maintenance and intervention from the beekeeper.

Another large advantage for both bee and beekeeper is that all the frames are kept on one floor.  This allows the beekeeper to access the whole hive with only the tip of the roof, and without the lifting of heavy boxes.  This is a significant advantage from the perspective of the bees as well as the beekeeper more easily avoids squishing bees.    

A final advantage of the Ratcliff Horizontal Hive is that it is beautiful.  As an artist and a craftsman, Stuart brings a level of attention and care to the construction of these hives, which is not found anywhere in commercial hive products.  Every hive is a handmade work of art.  

We build these hives with the intention of honoring our bees and yours with a home that is better built to meet their needs, more practical and convenient for beekeepers to work with, and beautiful ornament to your yard.  


The Ratcliff Horizontal Hive holds up to 26 Langstroth deep frames.  It comes with a large tilting gable roof with premium cedar shingles, sturdy attractive legs, entrance reducers, a queen excluder, a following board, a drop-down magnetic frame holder and hive tool magnet, a blanket box for holding cedar shavings in the winter time, a side window, and ceiling windows made out of acrylic and Sapele wood.  Stuart painstakingly roughens the interior surfaces of the hive with a wheel brush to encourage the bees to coat the interior of the hive with propolis making for a more hygienic environment for the bees.  We use only the highest quality materials in the construction of our hives.  We build these to last for generations.

Hive features:

Viewing Window:  As beekeepers we know you look at your bees a lot, but sometimes it’s fun to have a peak at the activity of your bees when you’re not working.  This is a great addition for families with kids or for the beekeeper who enjoys sharing a view of the bees with friends and neighbors.  The window is  9”x14” and is positioned on the side of the house giving a full view of one frame.                        

Acrylic Window Ceiling:  This ceiling allows you to look at the activity of your bees across the full hive without disturbing them at all, which is both convenient and really fun.

Frame holding rack and hive tool magnet:  Do you ever find yourself leaning frames willy nilly while inspecting your hive?  We’ve devised a wooden frame holding rack that conveniently drops down from the roof when it’s in the open position and allows you to suspend a few frames temporarily while you’re working through your hive.  Next to the frame holder we also attach a hive tool magnet so your hive tool is always where you need it when you need it.

Blanket Box: This serves as top ventilation in the summer and a moisture control device in the winter.  Simply fill with cedar shavings and position over the brood area in the fall.


Hive Models for Purchase:

The Sugar Pine Hive......$2800

Made from locally milled sugar pine, containing all the above mentioned features, and painted with three coats of the best white exterior paint, this hive is beautiful and functional.  Lead time is two weeks. 

The Redwood Hive........$3200

Built from sustainably harvested redwood from Gualala, California, this is a very special and particularly beautiful hive adorned with a few additional aesthetic features and is our most popular and durable hive.  Lead time is two and a half weeks.

The Cedar Hive..............$5500

For something extremely special we offer a hive built from extra thick clear-grain cedar treated with the Japanese burning, brushing, and oiling technique (shou sugi ban).  The result is a deep rich brown colored hive built with more advanced construction techniques and additional attention paid to the aesthetic features of the body, roof, and interior.  This is my masterpiece.  Comes with upgraded hardware and other additions.  Lead time is 4 weeks.

If you're interested in a simpler version of one of these hives for a discount please talk to Stuart (916) 450-9387


  1. ($160) Beautiful Hardware.  Want your house fit for a queen?  We’ve found some beautiful Victorian hardware that goes very nicely with our hives, and we sell it at cost (it’s fancy).

  2. ($300) Under Cabinet.  If you'd like to keep all of your beekeeping supplies (your veil and smoker etc.) in the same place as your hive, I offer this cabinet option.  It has the effect of making your hive look especially deep, like a two story house.

Stuart Ratcliff


Purchase a hive

If you're interested in purchasing a hive, I'd be glad to talk with you and answer any questions you have.  All hive orders start with a $200 deposit by PayPal or Venmo.   Balance is due upon completion.  Lead time is around 10 days. Shipping to anywhere in the contiguous US costs around $300.  Thanks for visiting my site!
-Stuart Ratcliff


Get in Touch

2740 Laurel DR, Sacramento, CA,95864