Native bee hive design
I thought I would do a little post on native bee hive design. There are so many designs of boxes out there and new ones being created all the time. I myself have made at least 4 different native bee hive designs. I wanted to make a design I was happy to stick with and I drew inspiration from a few guys I know. Bob Luttrell, Russel Zable and Dean Haley.
I wanted a box that was nice and warm in the winter, resisted the heat in summer, waterproof, did not rot, was repeatable and I could see the bees in if I needed to look.
When I looked at Russel Zable’s box I liked the thick walls he had. Bob suggested a clear panel which I liked and Dean had a few tips on angled entrance and vent holes to prevent water coming into the box during rain.
Western red cedar for native bee hives.
The timber I wanted had to be western red cedar. It is highly resistant to decay from rot if kept off the ground which means end grain is ok to be exposed. A prized timber for boat building and outdoor furniture. Western red is a lightweight timber, much like the walls of a Styrofoam box, but with a bit more thermal structure to it. It has long straight running grain and very few knots. It ages nicely if untreated, turning a light grey as it oxidizes. I knew this would be the best.
To make my box repeatable I knew I had to work to milled timber widths. 140,190 etc., so I created a cutting list that works. Each side is 190mm long with a top lid that is 190 wide. The only odd piece is the base. The timber is 40mm thick for insulation. All the timber I use is 100% recycled and comes from Canada where there are strict rules in place to look after the future of the forest. For every tree that is cut seven more are planted and it is the logging company’s responsibility to make sure those seven grow to be big trees. They are motivated to comply by huge penalty’s are imposed on them for doing the wrong thing.
About the native bee hive design.
The box has two butt hinges and a latch so you can open it. A sheet of projector slide acts as a viewing panel to see what the bees are up to and a weather seal prevents pests and water from entering the box. The entrance hole is 13mm wide and angles upwards as suggested by Dean. Once the base box is filled with bees another box can be placed on top. The lid and latch and clear panel are moved to the top box and the bees continue to build upwards into their new box. Sometimes I like to make a little cedar roof also if the bees are exposed to sunlight.
Some other hive designs to look at are:
To make this box, here is an order list along with a cutting list.
All timber cut from either 140mm or 190mm WRC at 40mm thick.
Lenght of timber needed: 1x140x40@ 1000mm
4x190mm long at the height of box you want. My walls are 140 high on the base box
1×190/110 wide this is the base, Which is put in after box is screwed together. Use a mallet and block of timber to knock it in.
1x272mm / 190 wide for the lid.
Check out this updated post on making a hive.