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Author Topic: Beehive lumber  (Read 15594 times)
bee-nuts
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« on: September 17, 2009, 04:47:55 AM »

Has anyone heard of using basswood lumber for beehives.  One of my uncles told me he thought beehives were made of basswood and that my Grandpa used to sell basswood trees to a company (now long gone) that used to make beehives from them.

As winter approaches my bee-nuts brain is trying to find ways to keep busy with me bee hobby and as I want to expand I will need more equipment.  I am not rich so I want to find the most economical lumber to use.  Last time I went to Menard's and priced lumber for deep boxes it seemed like I would be chasing my tale by building boxes vs buying them.  By that I mean there would be little savings.  There has got to be a way to save more money building the stuff.  Once I know what lumber is the cheapest yet hardy enough I can start calling local lumber yards and find the best deal for my boxes.  If not I just need to bite the bullet and call Dadant or Mann lake and order everything and make a trip to pick it up all at one time and get it over with.

So if anyone can give me some suggestions I will appreciate it.  I want to build everything but the frames.

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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 06:35:07 AM »

I've used basswood in the past and had no problem with it...it is a bit soft so you'll want to be careful when working it. Make sure you protect it well with paint/wax-rosin or whatever and you're good to go.

I've always made my own woodenware but I'm a woodworker and have everything needed to get the job done with minimum effort and buy lumber at wholesale so it's worth it for me. I can build deeps for around $4.50 each in materials but if I were to calculate labor into it I'd still be better off buying from Dadant.

I just made 20 med boxes for supers out of some tupelo that I had milled some years ago and that seemed to work well, however the milling cost $90 and I had to air-dry the lumber for several years before I could use it. I guess it boils down to how much effort you are willing to put in to it to save a few bucks.
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 07:06:54 AM »

Also watch for sales.  I think Brushy has a free shipping one around December(correct me if someone knows the actual time)  which could be a significant savings and might tip the balance in favor of buying them.  As for what wood you can use, I think almost anything wood work, I mean the most common one is pine and that's isn't especially strong or rot resistant it's just cheaper than some of the others.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 09:11:30 AM »

I have to agree with hardwood - I'm a woodworker with a shop full of tools, and an incorrigible pack rat as well.  If you just go to the lumber yard and buy materials to make your equipment out of you won't save all that much money.  If you don't already have the tools and skills that you will need you will probably be better off just shopping for the best deal you can find.

After that being said.  I made all of my hive bodies (8 I think) for my first season out of one sheet of B-C Exterior grade lumber (about $30) last winter.  All the other equipment were made out of scraps.   I'm sure that plywood boxes won't last a lifetime like high quality solid wood might, but so far they look like new.  My outer covers have a 2-3" overhang so that they keep the boxes dryer though.  The bees keep the insides coated with propolis so if I take care of the exteriors they might actually last a long time.  I'll see.

Until (if) this hobby generates positive cash flow or I win the lottery I have to keep the expenses as low as possible.
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2009, 02:54:04 AM »

Thanks for info

The commercial folks I deal with build everything but boxes and frames.  When you look at the price of inner and outer covers and bottom boards it is evident that you can easily save money by building these on your own.  I guess it is just a matter of finding the lumber for boxes on sale or something.  Shipping is what makes it worth the effort if you are only in need of a few boxes.  It is to bad that you need a 1" x 12" to make deeps from.  If you ask me, deeps and frames should be reduced a quarter inch to save us all some money by being able to use a one by ten. 

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.

Thanks
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 08:51:21 AM »


Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.


The thing about a butt joint is how it fails when it does.   It can just fall apart all of a sudden once it's compromised.  The more complex joints don't usually do that unless the wood is falling apart rotten.  In my opinion as a woodworker (once cabinet maker) is that a rabbit is only a little bit better than a butt joint - the problem with both is that glue doesn't hold well on end grain.  However, if you glue it and screw it, and keep it dry even a lowly butt joint will last a long time - if you don't expect too much out of it.
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2009, 06:01:02 PM »

Butt joints will work ok, for a hobbiest, use a good glue and 1 3/4 - 2 in plaster board screws.

Price around for lumber, get 1x12's 12 ft long, use the ripped excess for lugs etc..
Freight will Kill You, Mann Lake out of Hackensack, MN., I would think may be your closet supplier.

Yes Bushy does have free shipping in Dec. one catch, only east of the Mississippi River !!!



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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2009, 08:57:47 PM »

I have a friend that cuts trees in people's yards. He gives me all the pine logs that I want. I haul them to another friend with a band saw sawmill who saws them into boards. When they dry, I plane them. I get some beautiful boards.       


Steve
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 09:15:21 PM »

Thanks for info

The commercial folks I deal with build everything but boxes and frames.  When you look at the price of inner and outer covers and bottom boards it is evident that you can easily save money by building these on your own.  I guess it is just a matter of finding the lumber for boxes on sale or something.  Shipping is what makes it worth the effort if you are only in need of a few boxes.  It is to bad that you need a 1" x 12" to make deeps from.  If you ask me, deeps and frames should be reduced a quarter inch to save us all some money by being able to use a one by ten.  

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.

Thanks



        I use marine grade plywood 3/8" inner and 5/8" outer covers  and ONLY PAINT NO TIN on the out side of the telescoping covers.Got telescoping covers over 30 years like this. I use all medium all 10 frame boxes 6 5/8" for about 25 years.



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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 10:31:36 PM »

That's a good looking bee yard Bee-Bop.  Except now you can call dumpster diving guerilla recycling.
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 06:26:50 PM »

Thanks for all the great info folks!!

Bee-Bop

That pic is beautiful.  I doubt anything I make will be that pretty but someday maybe.

I think I will just go with a rabbit or butt joint this time around when I make boxes and take some extra time to glue and screw everything up good..  I actually found some extra heavy duty pallets at work that we get plastic pellets from Bayer on.  I can not believe the quality of wood they put into there pallets.  I will have to show you all a pic when I get some home.  I cant take any pics at work cause everything is top secret there.  LOL.  They will only work for shallow boxes but you cant beat free.
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2009, 08:09:07 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

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Tucker
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« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2009, 08:37:38 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

Yes, Tight Bond wood glue and 2" dry wall screws.
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« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2009, 10:02:25 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

Dowels are almost as good as one of the complex joints because they allow long grain contact on both pieces for good glue adhesion - plus the glue joint is in shear.  Assemble first using wood glue and screws just like asprince said, and then drill some holes through the joint and glue in a few dowels. 

Glue and screws will hold for a pretty long time, but eventually the wood shrinks and deteriorates a bit (or the screws rust) and the screws lose their bite, then the end grain glue joint left on it's own will fail. 

Nothing lasts forever though. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2009, 10:19:32 AM »

What basswood used to be popular for was making the comb honey boxes aka section boxes.  The beekeeping industry went through a lot of basswood making those boxes back when that was the most popular way to buy honey.
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2009, 12:14:31 PM »

i'm getting ready to stop using butt joints since i used the excuse of making some drawers  evil to buy a new dovetail jig from Lowes. 
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 02:11:17 AM »

If the ol lady ever says it her or the finger joints, it the finger joints.
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2009, 12:34:35 AM »

Basswood is normally used for frames that are used for comb honey.
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2009, 07:46:18 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

A good way to reinforce butt joints is to rabbet them.  Cut the frame rest rabbet on 3 sides of each end, the long side will have a buried end and the width board will only have 3/8 inch end exposed.  It is necessary to cut the side boards 3/4 of an inch longer to compensate.  I set my router for a 3/4 x 3/8 cut, 3/4 from the top of the board, 3/8 is 1/2 way through.
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2009, 09:10:23 PM »

My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Don't know what simple tools you have but the rabbits can be cut with a table saw, radial arm saw, router, and even some jointers.

A rabbit joint is much stronger than a simple butt joint since there is more surface contact between the two boards. Use good glue and screws hold better than nails also.

Paint helps very much to keep moisture down from the outside of the box which will help prevent warping.

Sounds like you need to get a saw or router for Christmas Wink

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