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Making top bar hive

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New Bee

Joined: 25 Feb 2018
Posts: 8
Location: Tameside uk

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:20 am    Post subject: Making top bar hive Reply with quote

Hi Folks Im going to try and make a couple of top bar hives as per Phil Chandlers Plans firstly do I need special timber ie Western Red Cedar or can ordinary 25 mm thick timber be used and coated with a protective substance such as shellac or linseed oil otherwise have any of you used Marine plywood and if so did you coat it and if so with what
Thanks for your help I have national hives but I want to move in your direction Mike
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Mike

I've used all sorts to make TBHs including a veneered chipboard corner cabinet and tongued and grooved wood panelling that I reclaimed from a shop refit (it was quite thin, like wainscoting, so I made it double thickness with interior pieces running horizontally and exterior vertically). The tongue part provide a perfect rebate for a Perspex observation window to sit in.
I've also made small TB hives from plastic trough planters that I lined with plywood and I've used sterling board for hive ends and MDF for follower boards.... I use whatever timber I have lying around or can dig out of skips providing it doesn't appear to have been chemically treated. The advantage of using recycled stuff is that it is less likely to warp and any glues used in production with ply or sterling board will have off gassed before it becomes home to bees. I lightly scorch the inside and rub it with beeswax and scorch again so that the beeswax gets sucked into the timber.
Other people I know of have used pallet wood and made it double thickness like I did with my panelling. You need to check that it is heat treated (stamped HT) rather than chemically treated if you go that route.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas on what you can use but certainly no need to spend a fortune on cedar, beautiful as it is.


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Nurse Bee

Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 32
Location: Slovakia/Prievrana

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:14 am    Post subject: Re: Making top bar hive Reply with quote

for outside coat (only outside) I use mixture of used oil from deep fryer and bee wax. Ratio 10:1. Paint with warm solution.
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Foraging Bee

Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 201
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We built our hives from found-wood harvested from remodeling a barn. I took the dimensions of those beautiful woodworking pictures in Barefoot, but none of the woodworking. We secured the boards with wood screws and Elmer's wood glue. The hives sit on cinder-blocks, (important ...) leveled in both dimensions using 2x4's. The outside of the hives was treated with Thompson's Water Seal – one thin coat sprayed on with a pump sprayer like the container recommends. Nothing was done on the inside. The top is made of similarly-treated plywood with 2x4's measured to fit between the end-boards and to sit outside of the bars. Construction start-to-finish in about an hour with any decent table-saw. It's as homely as such a thing can get, but it works great.

I suggest that the wood should not be treated in any way ... I abhor treated lumber of any kind ... but otherwise it really doesn't matter. A friend of mine painted the outside of her hives quite artistically. I didn't. Leave the inside to the bees.

I ran a saw-kerf down the middle of each bar and glued popsicle sticks down their lengths, according to the width of the inside of the box. (The depth of the kerf is half the width of the stick.) Ordinary Elmer's white glue worked nicely.

Then, I hit upon an idea that I didn't see in the books: I noticed where the bars naturally sat on the edge of the hive-box, marked that distance and cut a shallow saw-kerf across the width of the bar at that same distance from one end. (Just one end is fine.) The bars naturally "click" into that kerf, making horizontal alignment a snap, and they won't dislodge when you put the top on.

Three "wine-cork sized" holes on the sides provide the entrance/exits. Wine corks are put there in winter, although our winters are comparatively mild. (You can stuff a wadded-up piece of nylon cloth in there, too.) The bees widened one to about champagne-cork size.

Water is provided by a couple of chicken-waterers with round river rocks set into the trough for bees to land on. (Bees can't swim.) You can, if you like, drill a cork-sized hole in the top to put a funnel through for quick refilling without removing the rocks. Just press the cork firmly in place so the water doesn't run out, and fill quickly. I keep several on hand and swap them out: during summer, a hive can consume a surprising amount of water. Keep the containers and water clean and fresh.

Two metal handles, one on each end, make it simple to pick up the boxes and move them as needed. The length of each box was simply but arbitrarily determined by my arm-span.

This low-tech and uncomplicated system has served me for many years now. We harvest a small amount of honey for our needs, leaving most of it to them. We often keep one empty hive a little distance away and sometimes a colony or a "split" winds up in one. (But hornets tried to move in there, one year!)

The hives sit under a tree in a semicircle facing out, making an easy bee-free work space. The shaded space is a nice place to sit in the summertime so a favorite chair is nearby. It's very nice to sit there with iced tea and a good book, listening to the gentle buzzing of bees coming to and fro. Very occasionally one of them will stop by to see what I am reading.
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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