Four elegant homemade bee hives
Rick Cheverton, a beekeeper in Knoxville, Tennessee just finished his wintertime project: four gorgeous homemade bee hives with all the accoutrements. Rick shares his thought process and explains some of the changes he made from standard designs. All text and photos below are courtesy of Rick.
Winter’s work is done, and I’m just waiting for the bees to come. Everything is dovetailed with two coats of stain and three coats of poly. If the bees don’t like it, I’m moving in with some of my friends. Shown here are:
- 4 screened bases with trays for small hive beetles
- 4 slatted racks
- 8 hive boxes
- 4 super/feeder boxes, designed so the feeders slide in and out of a super
- 4 ventilated inner cover/feeder bottoms
- 4 ventilated moisture quilt boxes
- 4 vented roofs
- 8 Imirie shims
It was all a design-build project using some of my ideas and some others I read about. I’m trying a couple of things that may not work. For the hive bodies I used 2 x 10. My thought is with a slatted rack you get the bee space you need at the bottom and between the brood boxes I’m not sure you need it. If necessary, I will add an Imirie shim between them. It just saves time and money and my chop saw doesn’t do 12″ material.
Cutting the hand holds in was the most fun. I built a sled for the table saw and it worked great. One other thing is I built the inner covers with 3/4″ material instead of 1-1/2″ material and they work great and will hold up any feeder. On the supers I added two small pieces of paint stick stirrers (free from Home Depot) which is where the feeder slides behind. The reason for the combo super/feeder is you would never use them both at the same time. That way storage of the feeders takes very little room.
Next are the inner cover/super/feeder combo pictures. The inner cover is slotted on the back to allow the bees to come up into the feeder. This opening would have hardware cloth put over it when being used as an inner cover. I wonder if I am providing too much ventilation, if so I can always cover holes up. It has (3) 3” holes for ventilation. I use 3/4”x3/4” material for the frame which provides plenty of support.
The super has two small pieces of paint stir sticks stapled to the sides which hold the feeder in place. They don’t interfere with the foundation frames. The feeder is made from scrap 3/4” material and hardware cloth, and it slides down into place behind the pieces of paint sticks. It forms essentially a screen chute the bees climb over and down to the syrup. It is a no-drown feeder.
The container is a 1 1/2 gallon container from Home Depot for $.99. I throw the lids away. When through feeding pull the feeder out, remove the inner cover or screen the feeder slot in it, and put frames in the super. If not using the moisture quilt, move the inner cover above the super.
These are pictures of the screened base, the hive stand base, and the Imirie shims. I designed the base with two slots which provide for a winter position for the typical real estate sign board/sticky board (also useful if using oxalic acid vapor for mite treatment) and a slot for a cafeteria tray (about $2 on eBay) which I will put cooking oil in to drown small hive beetles.
A wooden cover will cover the back which is held on with magnets. The base is screened top and bottom. The landing is made of a piece of Douglas Fir. Home Depot has 4 x 4 x 8’ for $15 which I split in half and then make the landing boards. Also works well for ridge caps on the roof.
All screw holes are plugged with hardwood plugs. Stands are 20” x 60” and are treated 2 x 6. Each one will hold three hives but I am going to put two on them and put plywood between them which will make a work surface. They can be put on blocks or mounted to 4 x 4s. The Imirie shims are dovetailed because I think it is easier to make and stronger than a mortise joint. For some reason, my bees love the entrance in the Imirie shim and use it much more this time of the year than the main entrance .
Last, I changed my hive stand a little bit. I dadoed the center supports so the 4 x 4s fit in them to prevent tilting. I added hoist hangers on the two middle supports so I’m not depending on screws to hold the weight of possibly three hives. I also bolted the 4 x 4s in with 3/8” x 5” carriage bolts. The 4 x 4s will be 18” in the ground and I will stabilize them with Sackrete.
And here are the finished hives in place: