Beesource.com, The Self-Sufficient Living and Mother Earth News all offer free plans for building a beehive. Prospective beekeepers can choose among various types of hives, with the most popular choices being the Langstroth, the top-bar and the Warré.
Langstroth hives are the familiar-looking stacks of boxes that are most common in beekeeping circles. The bees' brood nest is located at the bottom of the stack, and the upper boxes hold honey. Because this is the standard way to raise bees, lots of support and supplies are available for this kind of hive. However, it can be unwieldy, and working with the bees or collecting honey can be disruptive due to the hive’s design.
Top-bar hives hold the hive on a vertical plane, with the brood on one side and the honey on the other. Collecting honey and working with the hive is less disruptive to the bees with this design, and it is less bulky than the Langstroth. This type of hive doesn't offer as much protection against the cold as other hives do. Apprentice beekeepers may find it more difficult to find support or advice on dealing with this sort of hive.
The Warré hive looks a bit like a little house, with square hive bodies and an angled, vented roof. The hive walls hold the combs in this sort of hive, and the walls are not removable. It is a good choice for cold climates and considered a more natural environment for the bees.