Stingless Bee Intermediate – Building a Hive
Building a hive is a great thing to do when working with stingless bees. The satisfaction of housing bees in something you have created is wonderful.
This video is about building the hive I am currently using for my bees. I normally start bees off in just the base box with a lid. Later I add the top box for them to fill up. This allows them to control temperature a bit easier. My base box is also used on its own for Austroplebeia species as they like to be housed in a smaller hive.
About this design.
When I first started to look around at people building hives I noticed that most were cut from different sizes of timber that were not standard. I designed this hive so that anyone could easily go to a timber yard and buy timber in 140mm and 190mm standard. This way they could take it home and cut it up and put it together like a lego set. The only piece that is not standard is the base at 110mm/190mm. You can always place a piece of 190mm on the base rather than knocking it in to the base. For your sides you can also opt for less then 140mm high, 90mm or even 112mm will work also. If you choose to go with thinner timber it’s ok, but 30mm upwards will help protect your bees in both hot and cooler climates.
Components needed for building hive.
Base 1 @ 110/190mm 40mm thick
Sides 8 @ 140/190mm 40mm thick
Lid 1 @ 190/280mm 40mm thick
Separator ply (optional) half sheet or less of construction brace ply. 4.5mm thick.
Anti slump bars 2 @ 110/30mm 10mm thick
What timbers can I use when building hive?
I like to use stable timbers that have been well seasoned to prevent warping. Old timbers are best.
Here are a few. Hardwoods should be pre-drilled and screwed if they are too hard for nailing.
What you can expect the bees to do in this hive
Both Tetragonula Carbonaria and Hockingsi will live happily in this box. Over time Tetragonula bees will prefer the base box for brood and the top box for stores. Austroplebeia will prefer the top box for brood when it heats up. If you are wanting to build a hive to do a clean split half and half on the brood center-line, reduce the side walls to 90mm in height. If you are wanting nice big round brood disks from carbonaria, consider a square hive design. 150-160mm square internal will give you this. The top box material in this hive can be ripped in half to give you 68mm. This can then be used to make both a top box and honey super, if honey collection is your thing.
If you would like pictures of a plan I recommend for use in NSW and QLD have a look at these. Take a screen shot and print them off for yourself. These are what I call the “Powell” Box. This box is designed to the bee’s height of brood, meaning your divisions for propagation will be accurate every time. I drew these plans to help people when building their own hive. From top down the components are: A lid, honey collection area, top brood box, base brood box and a base.
Breakdown of plywood separators and their placement, Seen below.
Note the height of the walls in this box – “68mm”. The two brood boxes are ripped from a 140mm piece of timber. This forces the bees to use the total height of the brood area and build nice large brood discs. At the time the boxes are divided you will have solid brood filling them evenly in both halves. If you make your walls with a larger height you will have brood sitting above or below the center-line and your division will not be equal.
The sheet of ply placed in the base of the honey collection area falls 20mm short of the total distance on the back end of the box. This is so bees enter through that one area to store honey and so the air that is pulled into the hive by the bees runs in a diagonal from entrance to vent, giving the whole hive airflow that is needed during hot days. A vent hole is placed in the back of the box at the top of the honey collection area. 12mm diameter vent and entrance hole are needed, any smaller and you are wasting your time. The vent hole is screened off when a new colony is being started, the screen is later removed when the colony is stronger.
Brood ply is cut to 160mm in length leaving gaps at both ends so the bees can easily access the join of the box and seal it. The gap created by the ply sheets not touching allows them to also seal the length of the box. If this is confusing watch the video of the first box to understand it. I hope this helps people to produce bee hives that help the bees do their job and provide little disturbance during propogation.