Tuesday, June 8, 2010


In the olden days, it was up to each individual beekeeper to build whatever beekeeping equipment he needed. Later, companies were started to provide woodenware to those beekeepers who were less inclined to make their own.

One nice thing about this hobby is that you can do as much or as little as you want. I know of beekeepers who make all of their equipment, including frames; others use salvaged wood for hive bodies. You can purchase unassembled wooden equipment from all of the major beekeeping supply houses, as well as completely assembled (and painted) hives.

I think every hobby beekeeper feels the need to do at least some amount of work for the hives. I know I do. In the past, I've done a bit of woodworking for the hives, but I am far from an expert (or even competent in some cases) in working with wood. I usually cut pieces wrong, and end up wasting wood, and take way too much time to do even the simple things. But it is fun at times.

Recently I felt like I wanted to do some woodworking for the hives in my "spare time," so I took on a couple of small projects.

I purchased some older used equipment from a fellow beekeeper, which included an inner cover. I used this inner cover at one of the Sutton hives, and found that the bees were attaching it to the tops of the upper frames, generally making a mess of things, and it was hard to lift up. Then I got to looking at it, and it looked like it didn't provide the correct bee space. Most inner covers have a rim on both sides which keeps the main part of the cover about 3/8" away from the top edge of the hive box. This one I have looked like only one side had a rim; the other was flat. I don't know if it was intentional, or if it had some missing pieces. So I decided to add a simple 3/8" rim around that side.

Here's a view of the finished modification. The light colored wood is the new part I added. You can see by the side view how the cover on that side would have been flat.

It was by far not a complicated modification (basically ripping strips of wood). But I think the bees will appreciate the modification.

The other mini project has to do with one of my nucs. I have that laying queen in the brown nuc, and I don't have any place for her to go immediately. I may keep her there for a while, and eventually she'll run out of room to lay eggs.

I decided to build a super for the nuc. Since I had a lot of extra plastic medium frames, I made it a medium size. I'll put it on the nuc in a few weeks and hopefully the bees will start using it. If nothing else, it'll get me more drawn comb for honey supers later.

Here is the nuc-sized super hanging up to dry:

The yellow paint comes from a can of paint we've had in the garage since we moved in here. It was left over from the previous owners, when they painted the pantry walls that color (yes, we have a pantry painted this garish yellow - ask my wife how much she loves that color!). Beekeepers are notorious for using whatever paint is available (the bees don't care). When the paint dries, I'll paint some kind of a bee diagram on it just for some variety.

I've got plans for some more simple pieces of bee woodworking that I can build later "for fun." If nothing else, these projects give me a chance to make a lot of sawdust...

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