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Author Topic: Making a Long Hive without plans  (Read 201 times)

Offline little john

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Making a Long Hive without plans
« on: August 14, 2015, 05:24:22 AM »
This is a post I uploaded to a well-known natural beekeeping site last year, where it was received like the proverbial 'lead balloon', as the use of frames is considered taboo there.

I normally make Long Hives from 1.5" thick scaffold planks, but on this occasion some 1" planks I had lying around were used.

Thought I'd post this here, for the benefit of anyone working with limited wood-working equipment, and to show that building a box around an existing frame can be just as viable as 'working to plans'.


Making a Long Hive without plans

Key features:
#   maximum flexibility in use
#    uses top bars, standard size frames, or both
#   economical to build
#   no plans required

The Long Hive described here is intended for 'stand-alone' use, but could equally be housed or stacked.  It could also be fitted with legs for more comfortable 'back-garden' use.

It is principally a 18-20 frame one-piece hive with an integral floor fitted with mesh ventilation, a three-piece crown board and telescoping cover, and can be used in this minimal, low-profile configuration.
However, there are several advantages to be gained by fitting an upper box which can house several inches of insulation during winter, and a maximum of four one-pint insulated inverted jar overhead feeders in both autumn and early spring.  In late spring and early summer, this upper box could be replaced by one or more dedicated 'honey supers'.

The hive is so easily made that plans are not necessary: the dimensions being determined by working around an existing frame - and so needless to say, this frame must be accurately dimensioned - and please be aware that most frames are not, and so first check and double-check it's dimensions. That, I'll call point 1.

The following building notes relate to Long Hives dimensioned for the National Deep (or Brood) Frame, typically denoted as DN(x). For other frame sizes, you'll obviously need to adjust the measurements accordingly. Two existing 8"(nominal) by 1" thick planks were used, from which 4 sides and 2 ends were cut without waste, with the remaining two ends being made from 1" thick planks sourced from pallets. This resulted in the construction of one 29" and one 31" hive.

Ok - point 2.  The end pieces, which sit inside the side pieces, MUST be cut square, of exactly equal length, and as near to 370mm (for standard National frames) as possible. This will ensure that an accurate bee space is created on either side of the hanging frame.

Here then is the first picture: the box on the left is too shallow by around 15mm. The box on the right was the same, and so has had trimming pieces added to the tops of the sides to bring their height up to 215mm.

So - point 3: any (side) height between 212 and 215mm is acceptable (for standard National brood frames), so that when a frame is placed on top of the adjusted sides, a bee space is created below the bottom of the frame - as shown.

You will also notice that an additional piece has been added to the box end, immediately behind the frame top bar.
Point 4: this piece needs to have a height of 18mm : this height is made up from 10mm to accommodate the frame top bar (the standard is actually 9mm, but in practice most frames are 10), and 8mm to provide a top bee space.

Point 5: a top bee space is essential, as these Long Hives contain a large number of frames (typically 18-19), and a divider is highly desirable in order to reduce the volume when initially housing small colonies. But - as the position of the divider is variable, the only way of effectively creating a seal between it and the crown board is for the crown board under-surface to be flush - thus a top bee space is mandatory.

In this next photograph, both of the 18mm vertical end pieces have been attached, and the 2 upper side pieces are being held in place by clamps. As can be seen, the 17" frame top bar straddles these upper side pieces, and by careful measurement the amount of rebate to be cut into them can be determined - in this case 6mm. An alternative to cutting rebates would have been to secure 6mm spacing pieces to the sides, and attach the upper side pieces to those. So - Point 6: determine the amount of rebate to be cut, allowing for (say) 1mm top bar end float each side, by placing a frame top bar across the box.

In the next photograph, the basic boxes are for-all-intents-and-purposes 'finished'. The rebate gaps will be plugged with scrap wood, entrance holes (4 x 22mm dia) will be cut into one end, and any holes, splits etc, being filled with automotive body filler before being finally painted.

Floors can either be solid, or a strip of mesh inserted to one side.
The next photograph shows a floor, made over-size (to be trimmed after fitting) with mesh stapled into shallow rebates which have been cut into pallet planks.
Imperfections being filled as before with automotive body filler before the floor is fitted.

Point 7: if ventilation mesh is to be fitted, then it should be located to one side of the floor, and not centrally - in order that the hive may be tilted a few degrees during winter, to allow any condensation to exit the hive via the mesh, rather than 'pooling' on the hive floor.

Floor in place - top view

and bottom view showing the added 'feet'.

The next pic shows the upper or top-box in place above the three-piece crown board. The telescopic roof frame is also shown, onto which will be secured a sheet of plywood, before finally attaching the aluminium cover.

Here are the 2 hives, with the 29" on the left, sitting comfortably on their pallet, with division boards in place.

Finally, two finished hives just waiting for the paint to 'season' before joining the rest of the circus ...

Hope somebody finds this stuff of interest or inspiration.  :smile:

2015 update - the only modification made to these hives (and indeed to all my Long Hives) has been to cut off the bottom 2"  from the Partition Boards, to prevent the trapping of bees, whilst still providing a 'thermal curtain'.

Offline trili

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Re: Making a Long Hive without plans
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2015, 09:58:40 AM »
Thank you for this  :smile:
I intend to construct a couple of long boxes to convert my Langs into horizontal configuration. I do not like lifting the boxes for inspection, and can not bring myself to chop the combs for use in a TB, so this seems the best way to handle it. I do not move them, so size is not an issue, just lifting off boxes. There is a multitude of recommended dimensions, and so it seems that as long as the bee spaces are maintained, I can just make the size I need, and super if I want, or not. I will never know if I don't try. Your longs look nice.

Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: Making a Long Hive without plans
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2015, 11:20:48 AM »
If you already have frames from your existing hives make long boxes to fit your existing frames.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Benjamin Franklin