Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
[ Member listing ]

Building Beehives

One person's demolition project is another's construction project.   A friend of mine added a garage to his house and in the process demolished part of the porch.  The porch ceiling and floor were both made from cedar boards.  They were headed to the burn pile but he offered them to me.  I saw beehives!

One of "the winter projects" is to build 7 beehives.  I'm wanting to expand the apiary and I think 10 is a good, reasonable number of hives for a novice beekeeper.  I've been waiting for warmer weather to continue working on the boxes, and every day I think it will be warm enough but today I decided to just do it although the high for the day was only 31 degrees.

My woodworking shop is on the back porch so I put on down-filled overalls and jacket and started up the table saw.

All the sawing was done outside, and the glueing and nailing done in the warmth of the house.

The boards are not wide enough to make a medium box (I use all medium 8-frame supers) so I'm gluing two of them together then trimming it to size.  The piece that is trimmed off the glued boards is then cut at an angle on one side to shed water and then glued and air-nailed over the seam--voila! a dual purpose handle and joint reinforcement.



The ends are notched to accommodate the frames and allow for "bee space".   Corners are glued and nailed with finish  nails.

Finished box, sitting on top of the crude jig I made to put these boxes together.

FullSizeRender (2)The handles are ending up at different positions on each box but I don't think that's going to be a problem because every time I look at the them I'll know they are in the "free" position!

Plans are to just let the hives weather.  Can't wait to get back in the bees and the gardens!


Completing the beehives

So I'm a compulsive list maker......checking tasks off of my lists gives me a feeling of accomplishment and it helps me to not forget things I really want to get done.  One of the wintertime items on the list was to get the hives ready for the bees' arrival in the spring.

The last post was about building the boxes and assembling the frames.  The hives have been sitting on the back porch (in the way, I might add) waiting for me to get back to them.  With the holidays over and the upstairs floor at least nailed down (not finished yet) I was able to get back to the hives.  The quilt is nothing more than a rectangular frame, just slightly (like 1/8";) smaller than the supers.  This facilitates the burlap being stapled to the outside of the quilt and still maintain airflow to the roof cavity.




First off I used a piece of burlap that's about 3 inches larger than the bottom dimension of the quilt.  There just so happened to be a piece of burlap in my fabric stash, so I stapled the selvage edge first along one long side of the quilt.  Then it got stretched really tight and I stapled the other side in a few spots just to hold the fabric tight, then the excess was trimmed and the edge turned under to keep it from raveling.



One of the quilts was fabricated from some scrap oak that was laying around and it was really difficult to get the staples to go all the way in.  It's also quite a bit heavier than the other one, which is made from pine--but---it was scrap.

Here is the hive with the quilt in its proper position--wood shavings go in when the hive gets set up in the apiary.   Bees keep their hives really warm during the winter--I think around 95 degrees or so.  When the warm air hits a cold roof cover the moisture in the air condenses and drips back down onto the bees, which could chill them and kill them.  The quilt absorbs the heat and humidity so condensation doesn't occur, plus it provides insulation from the cold and heat in the summer.  I've read that some people treat the burlap with a flour paste to keep the bees from shredding it.  That will get done closer to "bee-arrival" time.



You can see the burlap stapled to the outer edge of the quilt.  Don't worry, the roof will cover that.....


In fact, the roof covers the entire quilt and part of the top box.

Here is the first completed beehive.  Rough sawmill lumber was used for the roof gable ends because the lumber  purchased from the sawmill wasn't wide enough for the peak of the roof.  There was a board left over from the house siding (hemlock) so I used that.  It soaked up a lot more of the wood sealer than the finished boards.  The roof has a flat board inside that rests on top of the quilt so mice can't get into the nice nest of shavings.  A screened bottom board will allow for ventilation through the hive, and the little ramp at the bottom is for when the bees are tired and they can stumble into the hive (that's what I've read, anyway).  An entrance reducer will be added to keep the opening smaller when necessary or opened up all the way.  I'm not sure about all that yet, but I'm still learning.

I decided to name my hives after the signs of the zodiac--not that I believe any of that--but it made a convenient way to keep the first twelve hives separate for recordkeeping purposes.  A woodburning tool made the name permanent, rather than paint.  The Happy Hoer was born in the sign of Virgo :-)


What WAS I thinking?

Okay, so I got bitten by the "I-wanna-keep-bees" bug last summer.  I've been studying all about them and after pricing  beehives from several different sources, I decided to build my own hives.  It was going to be EXPENSIVE to get two hives set up, and the fact that I'm doing a little different twist on these hives made the decision easier.

A sort-of local sawmill (about 40 miles away) had dressed and kiln dried pine boards that were 1x8x8.  The Subaru veggie wagon was loaded!  The owner of the sawmill ended up giving me several extra boards that were odd lengths--lucky me :)  The lumber has been stacked in the dining room to keep it nice and dry.  Construction began a few days ago:


First, all the boards are cut into the proper lengths for the sides of the boxes.

Then all the boards get ripped to the right width for the medium box depth.  It's easier for me to rip the short boards rather than try to rip a long board.

After getting all the boards cut to size it was time to glue and screw.  I bought some star bit exterior tan-colored screws to fasten the boxes together.  A good smearing of wood glue is applied and clamps to hold the boards in place while fastening is necessary.  A small framing square is very helpful which pilot drilling and inserting screws at the corners.

A word of advice:  Do not cut the tip of your forefinger on a cardboard box while Christmas shopping with your mother the day before attempting this project.  It really makes it harder to do all this detailed work with an "ow-ie" on your finger.  Anyway, as the boxes were completed, they were stacked back in the dining room, only they take up a lot more room than they did as a stack of lumber!

I'm making 6 boxes for each hive and one extra box to make a swarm box for the swarm of bees I'll find next year :)

I also put together an entire case of frames (100) --they are everywhere, just waiting for the boxes to be painted.

Next come the "quilts"......

RSS feed for Wild Things Farm blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader