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Praise to the POWER TOOL

Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Horizontal top bar hives
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Craig Howard
House Bee

Joined: 03 Jul 2016
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:26 am    Post subject: Praise to the POWER TOOL Reply with quote

As I proceed with my first ever Top Bar Beehive build, I thought I would contribute to others contemplating the task for the first time by adding my opinions and thoughts.

What appears to be a simple workshop job and fettle is actually far more time consuming than it appears at first glance. It certainly surprised me somewhat in regard to time and materials required.

The project also require a bit more think through, initiative and skill than one might expect. Do not think that the plans available are comprehensive . They are a start point only and not a step by step...incorporate a lot of ideas (many do conflict) and do make solid decisions before you start cutting is my advice!

Access to or ownership of a few power tools will make what appears to be a simple build, pleasurable, efficient and time saving.

In fact ...I do not know how it can even be achieved with out POWER TOOLS.

After years of DIY projects, I am lucky to own...a compound mitre saw, a table saw, a circular saw, a fret saw, a router. Nothing professional level but all of a good pro-sumer standard. I also own some good measuring tools, squares and clamps etc.

Each of these power tools has been thoroughly worked in my first beehive build. Repeat cross cuts, repeat rip cuts..really add up in this project just like linear material cutss do.

Advantages of the table saw ( ie rip cuts, angle cuts) , is the ability to economise on the lumber used and turn it into precise dimensions. Rarely does the lumber yard have timber in the exact dimensions required for any "joinery" type build such as a beehive. To rip economically saves a lot of money. One can even turn free off cuts into usable pieces.

Example : 30+ Top Bars 38mm x 22mm or 30+comb guides 12mm x 12mm or tapered at what ever degree.

Ripping to a dimension means exact straight pieces.

Advantage of the compound mitre saw (cross cuts) is the ease of repeated lengths. Use the measure bar stop.

Cross cuts to a dimension means exact length pieces.

Repeated dimensions are easier to work with..and look good too.

Minimising gaps is a good thing in a beehive construction and so good construction practice is the way to achieve this, ie straight adjoining surfaces.

Conclusion...if you do not have wood work shop what ever the man is asking for a bought one. Its a lot more work than one expects.

I would even suggest that a build of 3+ hives would warrant investment in these power tools if one chooses carefully on a quality / price level.
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1851
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm an enthusiastic DIYer but no great skill and totally self taught.... girls didn't get the option to do woodwork or metal work when I was at school!

I've made two full size top bar hives (out of scrap/reclaimed timber) and a couple of bait hives. For me the two power tools that make the job easy are a table saw and a drill.

I inherited a table saw from my Dad but recently it died and I had to replace it. I got one from Lidl that does the job great and was not expensive and comes with a stand and has lots of great functions. What I spent on the table saw is probably what I would have spent on timber and materials..... I think it was about £110, but I now have a useful tool for lots of other projects as well as more hives.

I've never followed the plans to any great extent, so I can't comment on how extensive or lacking they are. I use whatever timber I have to hand and work around it. If you understand what you are working towards, then the actual dimensions are not that critical, unless you want everything in your apiary standardised.
I have a hive with 22 inch top bars and another with 17 inch....(I wouldn't endorse 22 inch bars as they combs tend to curve more at the ends and overlap onto adjacent bars but it is still workable). The depth varies too, as does the length. I have bar widths from 31mm-40mm in 1mm intervals, plus plenty of shims. The angle of the sloping sides varies between all of them including the bait hives. The depth of the hives varies too. My bees don't really care and perhaps the individuality of each hive prevents drift between them. The plans are there to give people an idea of size..... I don't think they were intended to be set in stone. Of course once you put a dimension on one parameter, then everything else needs a corresponding size. If you just make it up as you go along, using the basic concept of what you are aiming for, then it doesn't have to be so precise or expensive.....Having a table saw certainly facilitates that, as you can rip things to size as you figure out what you need.

The really important things are....
1.Making it bee (and more importantly wasp) tight.
2.Having really good comb guides (a waxed filled saw cut is just not reliable enough)
3.Keeping the weather out.... particularly the wet, but too much heat can also cause problems....

I keep my hives in full sun (it doesn't get really hot here) but I have vented gabled roofs and I can also put insulation in there on top of the bars in winter.

My last hive cost me about £5 to build and it has a full length observation window..... of course it helps if you are a hoarder like I am and have stuff lying around waiting to be repurposed.
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Golden Bee

Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1545
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did mine with nothing but a cordless drill in the way of power tools. Before I make any more, I plan on getting a power saw but at the moment I have enough hives on the go.
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Foraging Bee

Joined: 27 Nov 2015
Posts: 136
Location: Ireland, west

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Barbara says, lidl and aldi do some good bargins on tools. Ive got a few now and wouldn't be with out them. I love making things out of scrap wood, pallets etc. Just made a shelving unit entirely from pallet wood for my modelling tools and a box for my art supplies from a wooden wine box and again pallet wood. All they cost me was the screws and hinges, about 4 quid max. Made my hives with the tools as well, sooo much easier.
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Scout Bee

Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 358
Location: UK Cornwall, Falmouth

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I made my first couple of hives with a hand saw and an electric drill on the living room floor. I use a jig saw more often now, and I keep looking out for a table saw. I have made 7 top bar hives now and say "that is it!" But.... I have 2 spare swarms in bait boxes, - so I can feel another hive coming on! £5 is good because the bolts for the legs cost a little. We collect wood etc from skips, but tend to buy B&Q sawn timber for the top bars. If I had a table saw I could "rip" them from scrap wood. My husband has taken to my bee passion and has been knocking up bait hives from scrap like crazy. His tool of choice is a chain saw - he can even do a groove in the top bars with it! Smile
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Craig Howard
House Bee

Joined: 03 Jul 2016
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Added a new tool to my tool bag and it quickly became a "must have" for building bee related boxes.

A 2 in 1 Nail gun now lives in my shed. ( I already had a 2 HP compressor)

This tool will punch finishing 18 gauge brads or staples into timber fast and solid and is ideal for building boxes quickly. (18 gauge tool is perfect for this task.. but I guess 16 gauge would be fine as well but not sure if there is a 2 in 1 , 16 gauge.)

Screwing and hammering cant come close to this ease and efficiency and its fun to use.

Dont ya just hate it when a screw or a nail busts out the side of a box panel /side!!! No more for me.

Just finished 3 swarm / nuc boxes in plywood. Its hard to stop making them but I dont need more unfortunately.
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Nurse Bee

Joined: 09 Jul 2014
Posts: 32
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh how I love my nailgun! I'm still on nationals and when making up frames it saves so much time that just using frame nails and a hammer!
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Scout Bee

Joined: 12 Jul 2010
Posts: 358
Location: UK Cornwall, Falmouth

PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2016 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yay! Lidls have got the table saw in £99 - there were still quite a few left locally on Friday. I have been putting it together and it looks good quality. More hives coming on this winter I think!
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