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Can I use flat galvanized steel sheets to make a hive body?

 
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mischief
House Bee


Joined: 06 Nov 2013
Posts: 19
Location: South Waikato,New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:38 pm    Post subject: Can I use flat galvanized steel sheets to make a hive body? Reply with quote

Hi, I have been busy reading just about everything I can get my hands/eyes on while I am getting to practise with a friends hives.

I have been looking around here to see what I could use to make my hives with over winter.

I have quite a bit of flat galvanized steel sheeting and was wondering if there was any reason I should not consider using this.
I dont know if this material is poisonous to bees or not.

One reason I thought it would be worth considering is that in New Zealand we have a ruling that any and all hives found to be infected with AFB must be burnt to destroy this completely.
Sheet metal can be burnt without necessarily destroying it.

I'm wondering if it is practical to make the inner hive body with this, which in the unlikely event of getting contaminated, could be lifted out of its windbreak stand and burnt.

Worth thinking about some more or not?
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biobee
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Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No no no no no!

Metal heats and cools with the sun and will make life extremely difficult for the bees. Read the threads on insulation, condensation and the reasoning behind hive design.
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J Smith
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Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mischief, as Phil so eloquently puts it, no- not a good idea.
Because you would not be creating a hive- so much as a sweat box. Ever seen any of those old POW movies where the prisoners are thrown into a corrugated iron sweat box? This is what you would be asking your bees to do. During Summer days it would be heated to way beyond comfortable and at night it would chill to dangerous levels- especially during the Winter.
Try and stick with timber construction, timber at least an inch thick.
If you are "handy" enough to consider making a hive from flat tin sheet, you should be able to handle a timber hive with simple hand tools.

Cheap recovered or recycled timbers can be used. Think pallet wood or the like, maybe second hand building materials, just make sure that it is not treated for exterior use pinus.
New timbers are not that cost prohibitive for all you would need. Macrocarpa boards would be a good choice- better than untreated pine.
You can (and I suggest you do) use treated timber for the hive legs.

The other option (and one Phil is also not that keen on) is a hive made from half a 44 gallon plastic drum. Being in the Waikato, there should be plenty of these kicking around dairy farms near you.

Your flat sheet galv material will come in handy for weather tight roof cladding. You just have to think of ventilation- air gap and insulation under a metal roof to stop heating the top bars and comb connection during mid Summer heats and causing the comb to collapse. Wink
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mischief
House Bee


Joined: 06 Nov 2013
Posts: 19
Location: South Waikato,New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok.
I probably should have been more specific.

What I intend to build is a double skinned hive with some of the ceiling insulation I have between the two layers. This is a sheep wool product treated to repel insects.(18 years old) Its quite thick at around 2 inches.(surplus to requirements in my ceiling). The roof is also going to be double skinned and insulated.

The hive body itself, (the inner casing) is going to be made as a separate unit and will sit inside and on the outer casing with the holes lined up and either a pipe or woodblock with the hole drilled through it.
Having spoken to great length with a friend who, years ago, had an old style bee shed on their farm property, the entrance will be at the top like theirs were.

I'd love to get hold of their bee inspectors note books on their shed- he was quite fascinated with it.(getting a little of the subject here,. Each time I talk with them about it, they remember more about how it looked and worked. I will do a little write up for you on this shed when I think I've got everything they can remember about it).

I am aware of the issues with condensation. However having read that bees will also set up homes in metal structures, I wondered if there was an issue with the galvanizing itself, rather than it being metal.

I have noticed that wooden hives can also have problems with condensation to the point where some rot from the inside out.

So.....with the sun not hitting the metal casing and being well insulated, with a sliding drawer style mesh floor and drainage holes drilled in beneath this....... does that change things?

The only thing I cant see how to put in is the observation window,so far.

Hi J, was busy explaining myself when you posted.
Yes we have a lot of plastic everything lying around and no I wouldnt consider using this as I believe plastic to be detrimental to anythings health due to outgassing.....and there would still be the heat and condensation issues to deal with!!
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R Payne
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Joined: 11 Apr 2011
Posts: 123
Location: USA, Kansas, Wichita

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't want to use galvanized. If you heat that, you will burn the zinc off and that can lead to heavy metal poisoning if you breath any of the fumes. And if you don't get sick from that, them you will no longer have galvanized metal and it will rapidly turn to rust.

Bad idea.

ron
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you use something like PVC, then yes, out gassing is a major issue. If you made a hive out of plastic, you should use polypropylene, which is what most food grade plastic barrels will be made from I would think. If you want to see polypropylene, take a look at any of the snap-on-lid plastic food tubs in your food cupboard. Indeed, polypropylene is replacing PVC in most plumbing products now precisely because it is so inert.

Last edited by stevecook172001 on Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mischief
House Bee


Joined: 06 Nov 2013
Posts: 19
Location: South Waikato,New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, good points.
I'll leave it for the roof covers.
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mischief, you are touching on the subject of "polypanel" as I hive material I have mentioned here before, the "Rudnev" panel used for food prep areas, processing plants, dairy sheds and refrigeration plants. It is a double metal skinned polystyrene panel and i believe it could be used for hive construction.
However, making a double box with insulation between seems a complicated method of construction and it would be cheaper in man-hours to stick with timber. You do have the option of timber interior (untreated ply?), your insulation and galv sheet exterior.

Yes, burning or flaming galv(as to welding galv pipe) leads to very toxic fumes that are not good for you or bees.
If your main basis for the double skinned metal hive is to allow for flaming to "cure" AFB, then I would suggest there will be creases/joins/crevasses that your flame will not reach and the "burning" would not be thorough.
Complete destruction is called for to be legal. Easier to do with a timber hive. Wink

As Steve states, if going plastic, you must be sure to have the correct plastic. The wall thickness of those barrels is sufficient to negate thermal heat build up (I have run thermometers inside side by side plastic and wood hives to compare), but serious thought has to be given to ventilation to help control condensation.
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stevecook172001
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Joined: 19 Jul 2013
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Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mischief, I don't know if you've already come across one of these, but here's an instructable for one of the plastic HTBH's made from a food barrel, so should be polypropylene.

http://velacreations.com/food/animals/bees/38-honey-cow.html

As J mentioned, a concern of mine would also be condensation leading to pooling of water in the bottom, I suppose that could be offset by drilling some small holes in the bottom maybe? I'm thinking out loud here, by the way, and so my "advice" should be taken as no more than that. I'm not really much further, if at all, on the curve of learning in bee-keeping than you are. I've personally gone down the Warre hive route and have built my own out of wood.
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mischief
House Bee


Joined: 06 Nov 2013
Posts: 19
Location: South Waikato,New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do like the holy cow!! I could do that quite easily....but...
From reading the NZ Beekeeper forum, those that have the standard sized TBH's seemed to find that they were not long enough.
I'm not sure yet if their problem stems from being newbies or using a new system or that they need to be longer here for some reason.
I was going to do a 5 foot one, the barrels are also around 3-4 foot, so I wondered if I would run into the same problems.

I have been given two food grade barrels to act as overflow barrels for my new water tank. These have removable black lids held on with the wrap around metal clip on ...thingy.
I really only need one and did wonder if the other could be used some how.
The barrels are of a similar length but even cut in half would be deeper, which I thought might give me problems with comb breakage.
The final straw in not looking further with the barrel was that it was plastic and if I did happen to get infected with AFB, this would have to be burnt.
Burning plastic is to say the least frowned on, which would put me in a catch 22 situation. So no plastic of any sort hives.

On the non treated PINE timber.
One thing the old bee inspector mentioned to my friend was that bees dont really like pine, which is why I started looking at other alternatives.
I'd love to find out which hollow trees historically were preferred by bees.
I am guessing things like Oak and Beech. Old pine doesnt normally form hollow trunks like they do.

Having noted more than one person on the NZ Beeks forum mention rotting hives, I wondered if this is also due to them being made of pine rather than a hard wood.

I do have a very old freestanding Oak wardrobe I have been eyeing up. Not really wanting to pull it apart though, cos its part of the history of my old house.
It has a bit of borer in it though and I'm not sure if this would cause problems.
Its around 1750mm high and 400mm wide with only the doors and back wall not solid wood. So there might be enough to work with.
I'm told it dates from the 50's so probably not treated.
This is beginning to look like the best option.
I've got til August to figure it out.
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J Smith
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Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mischief, I sent you a PM in regard to a lot of this.

The barrels are deeper and wider than most timber TBH's so the volume is around the same.

NZ TBH's are usually suggested to be made longer as there is a long season of nectar flows here, coupled with mild Winters, early Springs and bees still gathering well into Autumn, they can require the extra room. A good strong colony can fill a 900-1100mm long hive quite easily most seasons, (especially up your end of the country) and if they do not- it can be controlled with follower boards.
The thing is, if they need the room, you have the chance with a 14-1500mm hive to allow them that extra space, but you can govern it down to 900mm if needed. If the space is not available, you might have to look at supering somehow.

The Oak wardrobe would be a good choice- if you can bring yourself to do so. The sides base and top should be solid timber of around 20-22mm thickness and should yield enough for one hive. Does involve a bit of demolition and re-manufacture though. Macrocarpa boards already milled to size might be easier.
I agree, pine that has been freshly milled and still has a high resin content is not that bee friendly, but older second hand pine is fine- paint the exterior to weather proof it.
Next best option is recycled Native, like Beech. Again, I would suggest painting the exterior, but these old timbers are sound, well seasoned and heart Beech is borer resistant.

Bees in the wild head for pretty much any tree hollow that suits their needs, I have a colony here quite happy in a Weeping Willow. It is more the suitability of the cavity than the specific species of tree.
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just took my new Warre hive to Barbara's apiary (a regular poster on here who is also an experienced HTBH bee-keeper) to have her colonise it with one of her summer swarms.

She showed me a brilliant HTBH she'd made from a second-hand, tall wooden corner cabinet. She'd put it on its back, took the doors off/shelves out, put some top bars on, put four legs underneath it and put a roof on. The damn thing was basically a HTBH without hardly needing to do anything to it. Pretty cool eh?

An example of the type of cabinet I mean is below:


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mischief
House Bee


Joined: 06 Nov 2013
Posts: 19
Location: South Waikato,New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks J,
Just sent you a 'Hi, this is me and what I am about' email.

Hi Steve,
OMG doesnt that look fabulous! and I know somebody with that type of thing too. I might just go visit them.
Has she posted pics of it here that I could look at?
hmm, a good reason to go Op (2nd hand) shopping!!

Thanks for all the input, much appreciated.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

My corner cabinet actually turned out to be veneered chip board rather than that lovely pine one Steve has kindly posted a picture of. It's now coming into it's 3rd season and holding out very well as I made the roof overhang quite a long way, so the weather doesn't really get at it. I'm afraid I don't have a photo as I'm a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology and the digital age. My camera, when I last saw it, requires film cartridges to be inserted Rolling Eyes

I hadn't seen a hTBH when I built it, but I understood the basic principle. The corner cabinet had been given to me 2nd hand as one of the glass doors was broken. I initially sawed the point off the back and stapled mesh over it, but have subsequently fitted a deep litter box....really wished I had kept the bit I cut off and just hinged it, but being chip board the dampness in the litter would have rotted it very quickly I suppose. The 90degree angle isn't ideal, but the whole thing works fine and the bees are doing well in it.
I think the key is not to get hung up on the details and be prepared to think things through rather than just follow plans.

I would much rather recycle something than build using new and the bees don't care for new timber anyway and it has a tendency to twist, so it's a win, win, win situation. Free or very cheap, environmentally friendly and happy bees.

Good luck whatever you decide to use and don't get too hung up on the whole AFB thing. I'm sure our bio security here in the UK is not nearly as strict as yours in NZ but we burn for AFB too. Cases of it are pretty rare, that it really isn't something that the average hobby bee keeper gives much consideration to, unless there is an outbreak near by. If you keep your bees at your own home rather than a communal apiary and don't practice migratory beekeeping then the chances of getting it are very slim. Here outbreaks are usually traced to cheap imported honey at food production units where empty containers are not washed out and bees get access to them. I would assume NZ doesn't allow the cheap imported honey into the country in the first place.

Best wishes

Barbara
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biobee
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:


I think the key is not to get hung up on the details and be prepared to think things through rather than just follow plans.

I would much rather recycle something than build using new and the bees don't care for new timber anyway and it has a tendency to twist, so it's a win, win, win situation. Free or very cheap, environmentally friendly and happy bees.



Quite so. Work on understanding the principles: volume, energy cycle, brood cycle - then you can modify with those in mind.

On AFB - Since I started beekeeping, the only time I have seen it is in the lab (Central Science Laboratory, York) during a course. I have only seen EFB in the wild in a TBH once (not mine) and it was a very small incident, dealt with (I think) by shook swarm and possibly re-queening.

Focus on health rather than disease, and understand what helps to keep bees healthy. Chances are, you will never see AFB or EFB in your hives.
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mischief
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes... I do tend to 'pre-think' things through a little more than most people.
I like to have things well thought out before I start, not having to double back or re do things and have at least a couple of solutions or ideas in place before I need them.

For example, it was suggested to me that in NZ we do need slightly bigger length due and that I might like to consider supering my TB hive.
If this is something that I may need to do, I need to know now, because where I intend to put the hives and how I had thought to make the base for them would make it difficult to lower the height to compensate for the extra height of the super. If I just went ahead with my original plan, later on I will run into trouble fixing this. I need to work it all out before hand.

With AFB, I get the idea that it is more prevalent here than people would like others to think.
This is based on a thread I read dated 2012 on the NZ Beeks forum and from a comment made by another person I know who has afew hives to the effect of ...'you've got to watch out for AFB, because its around'. Unfortunately, they were on their way to work so I couldnt get specifics from them and havent seen them since talk to.( I did get that they didnt really want to say more on it).

If this is a situation, I need to have some kind of strategy in place for likely contact and contamination scenarios.
For example,
I understand from various sources that the prime cause of AFB spreading is infected hives being robbed out, the keepers themselves and the practises of not keeping equipment to each hive.
No mention has been made of the likelihood that the inspectors could be a vector. They go from hive to hive checking for disease. There doesnt seem to be any checks on how they prevent themselves from spreading this.

I agree that it is better to concentrate on insuring healthy bees than worrying about disease and that is generally the way I do look at most things.

I'm off now to continue my reading marathon. Very Happy
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I can say is that, whatever hive you end up with, there will almost always be something that you wish you had done differently.
New ideas are emerging all the time.
Colonies of bees act differently even in the same conditions, so it's more of an evolution, particularly when you first start beekeeping. Once you have had bees for a few years you will start to figure out what works best for you and your bees in your location. Yes you will learn a lot by reading but only the bees will tell you whether it's going to work or not.

A colony in a hTBH that is 4 ft long will not fail just because you have a long season and a good nectar flow. It just means that you may need to harvest a little honey regularly(rather than a lot all at one go) or the colony will swarm sooner. Either way, it's not a big deal.

I may be mistaken but from what I have read, the whole AFB worry in NZ seems to be perpetrated to discourage people from the Natural Beekeeping/TBH route. The honey production industry in New Zealand, which is big business, are worried that novice beekeepers with TBHs are going to be a reservoir of disease which will threaten their livelihood. I understand their concern but the way to do it is not to frighten people about the threat it poses, but to encourage and inform people of what signs and symptoms to look for.

Here in the UK, "Bee Base" lists the number of outbreaks of AFB and EFB recorded, month by month and anyone can log in and see where the outbreaks have occurred and how many hives were affected and if there has been an outbreak in your location. Furthermore, if you are registered with them you get email alerts if there is an outbreak in your region, so that you can be more vigilant for signs of the disease in your own hives. To me this is a more enlightened way to tackle the problem than scare mongering, which I think is what you have experienced. I would be interested to know if the information about the number of outbreaks of the disease is available in NZ through a government organisation, as it is here with Bee Base, so that the actual threat can be quantified.

Of course the advantage of using recycled products for your hive is that should you be unfortunate enough for such a disease to hit your apiary, at least you are not burning something that has cost you a lot of money.

Regards

Barbara
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