Pick the Correct Wood
We went to our local lumber yard to pick up Some beautiful Macrocarpa wood to make some more kiwimana Bee Hives. The Macrocarpa tree is a is a species of cypress which a native of California. I thought we might write about how we build bee hives and show you the process involved.
The first step is selecting the correct wood. We need to select wood that doesn’t have knots, where joints will go and make sure the wood is straight. We use Macrocarpa as it is naturally protected from the elements. Never use treated timber inside your colonies.
The next step is planing, we plane the wood ourselves to ensure all the pieces are the same thickness. This ensures that joints don’t have any gaps. Which is important to keep out the wind. And reduces places for the evil wax moth to lay their eggs.
Cutting out the main parts
The two main parts of a hive are the sides and the front/back. We cut the wood to standard sizes for these. The length of these are 405 mm for the front/Back and 485 mm for the sides.
Getting the height correct, we make hives at full depth (238 mm) three quarter sized (185 mm) and half depth (133 mm). It’s important that all parts of the hives are the same height. So you have no gaps when used with other boxes.
You can find the official New Zealand Bee Hive box sizes on this page from the Wellington Bee Club
Being aware of direction of the Heartwood
When wood warps, it will bend away from the heartwood. If the heartwood is facing the inside of the hive box, any warping can cause the corners of the board to pull the screws or nails out. Which could lead to openings in the hive box and a possible entry point for pests, such a German wasps (Yellow Jackets).
Gary Moment : Think of it like this, the bees love should also be pointing to your heart (Outside the Hive Box).
Branding the BeeHive Boxes
Cutting the Box Handles
Cutting the handles. A handle is important on a hive box to make it easier to lift the box. A full sized box can weigh as much as 40 kg when full of honey. We use a plunge or drop saw to cut the handles.
Cutting the Side and Top Slots
The sides and the frame groves are the next task, the sides grooves form one half of the rabbet joint that the sides are attached too. The frames groves are what the frames sit on.
The measurements for the joints are 10 mm and the frame grove is 13 mm.
Assembling the Hive Box
The next step is the assembly, it’s important that all parts of the box are even. The boxes need to fit with the other parts of a standard langstroths hives. We use galvanised screws. Which we feel makes them look nicer and should provide years of rust free life.
Screws maybe more expensive than nails. Using screws makes it easier to disassemble the boxes in the future, if you need to perform a repair. Wouldn’t it be crazy to have to throw away a box, because one part is damaged or rotten?
Painting the Beehive Boxs
The final step in the oiling of the boxed to provide another layer of protection we use boiled linseed oil. This brings out the different shapes of the wood grain. Which provides a visual guide for the bees. Having all your boxed one colour is akin to living in an block of houses that all look the same. This can cause bees to drift to other hives. Drifting can spread dieases throughout your apiary or lead too some hives having a lower population of field bees.
Here’s is what the finished product looks like:-
You can buy our boxes here:-
Well I hope you found this useful in making Beehive Boxes. Do you make your own boxes? What tricks do you use to make them?
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