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How I Built Our hTBH's On The Very Cheap

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Foraging Bee

Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 201
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: How I Built Our hTBH's On The Very Cheap Reply with quote

Yes, I read Barefoot Beekeper. Beautiful things he built. Beautiful. But I'm not a woodworker! Confused So, here is what I did.

I built hives from "found wood" – unpainted boards that had been used for fencing and stalls. I made them about an arm-span long, and put large metal handles at both ends, so that one person can lift them easily. I kept only the dimensions and side slope of the hive-box from "Barefoot." The lids are made from plywood with boards on all sides to hold them in place, and to block the wind from all directions. (Allow plenty of room for clearance as wood expands and shrinks.) Bricks sit on top. The hives are held together with wood screws which I tighten periodically. (I also used wood glue on the main joints, and later added square boards on the outside which are screwed to both the sides and the end-cap.)

There are three "wine-cork sized" holes equally spaced on one side for entrances and exits. In the winter, I put wine-corks into two of them.

I cut a notch down the center of each bar and glued Popsicle sticks into them as a guide for comb-making, using Elmer's Wood Glue. You can buy a bag of those sticks for next-to-nothing at any craft store.

The hives sit on boards set between cinder-blocks. Small boards were used as shims to make the hives level in both dimensions. (This seems to be important.)

All exterior surfaces were coated with Thompson's Water Seal. (Actually, as the instructions tell you, just "a very light spray.") This is enough to make them weatherproof. You can then paint them on the outside, with latex paint, if you are feeling artistic.

One simple improvement that I came up with was to center a bar on the completed box and to notice where the edge of the box touched it. I then put a shallow saw-cut at the same place on each bar. Now, when installing each bar, you simply slide it until that cut "clicks" with the edge of the box. This makes it very easy to line-up the boards and it keeps them from sliding to-and-fro as you put the lid back on. (The bees will secure them with propolis.)

("For the technically curious ..." Only one saw-cut, on any pick-one "one side," is needed ... there is no added advantage to be had in making two cuts.)

So, my hives won't win any appearance-points at your local bee show, but they cost next-to-nothing to make and they have been holding thriving colonies of honeybees(!) for years now.

The hives sit in a tree-island in the middle of our pasture where they get direct sun only for an hour or so each summer afternoon. They are placed facing outward in a semicircle to give me an easy work-area that won't interrupt any flight-paths. I take care to cut and clear-away any brush or poke-weeds that try to grow up in the "airport runway" area. (Just reach right down there and "do it." They won't bother you. Just, do not stand directly in the flight-path, and especially do not cast a shadow over the entrance holes.)

This tree-island is also a favorite place for me to sit in my chair – which is in a corner of the work-area with all the hive entrances facing away. Every once and a while, a curious bee will land on my book or my shoulder – to see what I was reading, I suppose. Cool

When summer droughts come, I put a couple of ordinary metal chicken-waterers on the roofs. I fill the pans with rounded river-stones to give the bees something to land on, since bees can't swim. Last year, I put hose-fittings and a short length of hose onto them so that I could easily refill the waterers without taking them apart: just attach the hose and turn on the water for a moment or so. Put individual cutoff-valves on the fittings at the side of each tank. Use brass fittings.

I put an empty hive near to the others, periodically checking them to be sure that ants and wasps (or hornets ... ick!) did not take up residence. Soon enough, I started seeing bees flying in and out of them. I guess that our colonies "split themselves" at some point, and they simply decided to move into "the apartment next door." Suits me.

- - -
So, you need to learn how to "smile and nod politely" at beekeeper's gatherings, as the others are talking about how much money they spent on hives and treatments and on gee-gaws of every conceivable sort. They just won't understand when you tell them that your total investment in building two thriving beehives was about $30 (USD). I really think that they have allowed themselves to become conditioned to the idea that beekeeping must be a (very!) expensive and time-consuming hobby. Not true.

Last edited by MikeRobinson on Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:14 am; edited 6 times in total
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Moderator Bee

Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Made from bits of other stuff.... Excellent.

A man after my own heart...Smile
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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