A bee house is a building or a place in which we put beehives under a common roof. In beekeeping with stacked beehives, the bee house has become indispensable. The most suitable form of bee house is a wooden agricultural building. Wood is the most suitable material to provide the best living conditions for bees. Wood enables a relatively simple and cheap prefabricated and mobile construction, because sometimes one may need to move the bee house.
The wooden bee house suits most Slovenian settlements and landscapes best, both materially and visually. Only in the Karst and the Slovenian Littoral area is it partially substituted by stone. The bee house does not merely represent a residence for bees, but also the place for the beekeeper’s work. Often, we can find bed in bee houses, intended for the beekeeper. Nowadays, many have used the favourable microclimate of the bee house for the implementation of apitherapy.
The Kranjič is a low, wooden beehive with fixed combs. Such beehives used to be put tightly together into some form of a stack, in several rows. The traditional way of combining such beehives, which enabled the adaptation of the beehive space to the development of the bee colony, marks the beginning of box hive beekeeping.
The beehive panel is a painted wooden board that closes the kranjič beehive at the front and is a Slovenian beekeeping speciality. The first painted panels appeared in the second half of the 18th century. In the 19th century, the art of panel painting spread widely across the Slovenian lands before slowly dying down at the beginning of the 20th century, as beekeeping in traditional Carniolan beehives was abandoned.
Nowadays, the idyllic kranjič will not be found in Slovenian bee houses, as the modern leaf hives prevail, known as “žnideršiči” or AŽ-hives in short. It has been approximately one hundred years since this beehive was invented and offered to Slovenian beekeepers by the merchant, powerful landowner, industrialist and major beekeeper Anton Žnideršič from Ilirska Bistrica. The new beehive quickly became popular due to its practicality and soon spread across all the Slovenian regions, then across the neighbouring Croatia. It remains the best beehive for transporting and is particularly suitable for older beekeepers, women and even for the handicapped, and is therefore also very popular abroad.