From the bees' perspective, the differences between a Bee Tree Hive and a conventional Langstroth hive are so profound and fundamental that it is difficult to do a simple side-by-side comparison. It's not just apples and oranges, it's apple crates and oranges.
A Langstroth hive is basically a stack of thin-walled, over-sized, smooth pine boxes that have virtually no insulative or hygroscopic qualities. And, in a Langstroth hive, a honey bee colony exists as an isolated organism in a sterile environment. This is the apple crate.
A Bee Tree Hive, on the other hand, is designed to be a living thing... an orange.
The Eco-Floor provides a way for you to add detritus from a fallen, rotting tree in your region. This adds thousands of indigenous organisms - an entire ecology - to the floor of the hive, just like would be found in the bottom of a hollow tree cavity where honey bees would choose to build a hive in the wild. We have not yet begun to understand all the ways that the symbiotic relationships within this micro-ecology contributes to colony health.
The more-than-double-thick, western red cedar hive bodies provide a cavity with a smaller volume that is more in line with what honey bee colonies choose in the wild. The hive bodies are also many times more insulative and many times more hygroscopic than pine Langstroth hive bodies. And, the rough interior surface of the Bee Tree hive bodies helps to promote a propolis coating that creates a vibrant, healthy, anti-microbial envelope for the bees to live in - again, just like in the wild.
The inside-the-hive feeder in a Bee Tree Hive allows you to feed honeycomb back to the bees, any time of year, without breaking a propolis seal.
And the insulated, ventilated hive cover gives the colony complete control over both the amount and route of their ventilation. And it's not static; they can adjust it throughout the year by adding or removing propolis from the screened vent holes. And they do!
All of the components of a Bee Tree Hive, together, provide a much more natural hive cavity that better supports the way honey bees are designed to live.
All that said, from the beekeeper's perspective, there are no limiting factors to a Bee Tree Hive. Bee Tree Hives use standard Langstroth frames, and are built on an 8-frame footprint. If a beekeeper lives in a region where honey bees can actually produce a surplus of honey, there is no reason that honey supers cannot be added to a BT Hive during the appropriate portion of the nectar flow season.
Questions? Please email me, Scott Sailors, at BeeTreeHives@gmail.com