One of the answers to colony collapse disorder in bees is a renewed interest in top bar hives. They are an old method of raising bees. It is still used today in many third world countries. A simple box with bars across the top that the bees hang their honey comb from. Pretty much what they would do in a hollow tree.
A top bar hive cuts down the build up of pesticides in hives. In a “traditional” hive the wax is reused for years. Slowly letting pesticides build up. In a top bar hive the wax is collected along with the honey. There might be traditional” hives today that still have DDT residue. Bee keepers today report a loss of up to 30% of their hives, so chances are all of the old hives are gone. When I first raised bees in the seventies you hardly ever lost a hive. That is no longer the case.
The top bar hive also allows the bees to build the cell at any size they want. So they could build different sizes for brood then they do for honey. Not so with the “traditional” commercial hive. The draw back is you get a lot less honey with a top bar hive, but you do get a lot more wax. One of my favorite wood finishes is a mixture of mineral oil and bees wax. Wonderful for cutting boards. I wont have any problem using the wax.
I built two hives from some old growth pine from a shed of my dads, that he let me tear down. You could raise bees in just about any thing. A plywood box or even old barrels cut in half. I wanted a furniture grade hive so I built it with box joints and love. I used a linseed oil finish on the exterior and a bees wax, mineral oil finish in the inside.
The only problem I have is no bees! My bee supplier changed his mind, so now I have two garden sculptures. Anyone want to raise bees?