build your own beehive

last year I received an email 6 times asking me to sign a petition to save the bees. I couldn't see how signing a virtual petition would do any good and asked myself "what can I do?" I decided to get busy with a little bit of research, some scrap wood and with the help of my family, we built a beehive in a day. 

I chose a "top bar beehive" design and chose to adhere to natural bee keeping methods. That means very little intervention. We haven't yet harvested any honey but rather provided a space for the bees to live. We put the hive out on the mountain behind our house in Feruary. Less than 6 weeks later the bees moved in.

Here is a guide to building your own hive. Search for top bar beehive or natural beekeeping and you will find lots of information and lots of detailed designs.

 

The bottom piece will measure 25 cms x 100 cms. The two long sides will measure 45 cms x 100 cms. The two end pieces will be triangles measuring 25 cms at the bottom and 60 cms at the top.

Screw the pieces together to give a triangular shaped box, thinner at the bottom.

We left a "landing platform" by allowing the bottom piece to protrude by a couple of centimeters.

We also built an observation window, so the kids could have a peek inside the hive.

We cut a regtangular hole in one side.

Made a little hinged shutter

and stuck a bit of perspex over the hole with silicone.

With a screw and a bit of wire, we made a clasp so that the window can be left closed when not viewing. An open shutter could overheat the hive and the bees like it dark.

We cut an entrance slot 5 cms above the landing platform

we insulated the wooden roof with polystyrene and covered it with an old sheet  of aluminium

 

 

The top bars need to be made from a hardwood. They will have to hold a lot of weight once the bees build coms on to the and fill them up with honey or brood.

The bars should measure 60 cms wide.

 

 

Next, we made a groove down the middle of the inside of the bar. This acts as a guide for the bees to start building onto. We added thin pieces of wood to act as a guide.

Next, using a soldering iron, we baited the hive with some wax that we got from a neighbour bee keeper. The wax should help to attract bees and also acts as a guide for the start of the combs. It is much easier for inspection purposes if the bees build their combs staright along the bars so they can be lifted out one at a time.

Here is the finished hive, roof on, window open

We put it up the mountain

Six weeks later, our first bee arrived!!!