Re: An odd thought about a natural observation hive.
If you're wanting to do a long hive (counter to ceiling) I think it would be nearly impossible to have it be removable/accessible. My TBH's have a viewing window, but what about doing an entire TBH out of plexiglass? What about a thin metal skeleton, coated with glass that could be removed while still keeping the hive intact?
I would just be sure to use plexiglass or something shatterproof. Last thing you would want in your imaginary store would be an imaginary disaster where someone knocks something into a glass beehive and unleashes chaos.
Here is another thought. If you want it to be BIG, how about you do a section of the wall where it is like a natural wall cavity (6-8" thick). Make the inside glass, so people in the store could see. Make the outside like a door, where if needed you could simply open the door and access the entire hive. You risk brace comb ripping loose, but it wouldn't be enough to collapse the combs. Plus, like this, when you do have to work the hive, you would access it from outdoors, so you wouldn't have to worry about bees flying through the store. Making the cavity long, narrow, and tall would enhance the construction of long impressive combs since they would quickly need to build down.
I like where you are going with this. It will be neat to see what you come up with. Good luck.
One package to 4 hives in 3 months. After 12 months I'm over a dozen hives and growing. Head over heels for bees!!!