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Author Topic: Type of wood to build top bar hives  (Read 4819 times)
HBW1412
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« on: February 11, 2011, 12:47:52 PM »

I am wondering if the tanic acid in red oak lumber would have a negative effect on the bees if I make the hive out of it.  I know most hives are made out of pine or poplar, but they don't weather as well as oak.  I don't think I'm going to paint the hives so the oak would hold up better than either pine or poplar.

I'm making top bar hives with sloped sides.  The sloped sides need to be about 12 inches wide.  I have oak boards that are wide enough, but I'd have to tongue and groove the pine boards to get them wide enough.  I don't like using poplar because it rots so quickly.  

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 04:40:35 PM by HBW1412 » Logged
Robo
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 12:55:06 PM »

The drawback with oak is the weight.  If you don't plan on moving it too often, then I see no problem with it.
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 01:01:40 PM »

I wouldn't build langs out of oak but, as Robo said, you should be ok with it for a TBH.

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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 01:45:20 PM »

I have a pile of scrap pine I'm going to test a scarf cut on instead of a flat edge or tongue and grove. The idea with the cut is to give water a chance to roll away instead of in. Some glue on the edge may help, not sure if I'll use glue yet. Oak does get heavy, it also swells tight when wet, some winery still use it to age wine.
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WPG
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 09:26:44 PM »

The red oak family is not weather resistant, it is used for indoor furniture and trim.

The white oak family is weather resistant, it is used as the rub rail on wooden boats, wooden tubs, barrels, casks, kegs etc.

They both are extremely heavy.

Now if you have some scrap walnut that would be excellant.
Walnut is weather resistant, strong and lightweight(compared to oak).
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HBW1412
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 09:59:32 PM »

Red oak would be more weather resistant than pine though.  My hives will be a couple of feet off the ground so moisture from the ground shouldn't be a problem.  The roof will have around a 6" overhang all around.  That combined with sloped sides and I think red oak should hold up fine.  White oak would be better, but I don't have any cut that is wide enough and seasoned.  I'd have to cut some and wait a year before I could use it, which I may do.  For right now though, red oak should be OK.  

An interesting sidenote...
I have an 1896 Frick sawmill so I cut all my own lumber.  Just today I cut a beam out of white oak for a man to use in his cabin.  He will use it as the main support beam for a loft where he doesn't want any center supports.  It was one of the largest if not the largest beam I have ever cut.  It was 18" x 18" x 32'.  My bobcat could hardly pick the thing up.  
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 10:05:52 PM »

WPG is correct white oak is the rot resistant variety. Red oak is rated as moderately resistant along with white pine and a whole bunch of others. All of the oaks are serious "movers" with moisture changes and very prone to cupping. something to consider in your construction design. Also, the difference will be small at 3/4" but wood's insulating value is tied to it's density, Heavier woods are more thermaly conductive...poorer insulators, but better heat sinks.
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WPG
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 11:36:38 PM »

An interesting sidenote...
I have an 1896 Frick sawmill so I cut all my own lumber....  It was one of the largest.....  It was 18" x 18" x 32'.   

That is a chunk!  How long can you cut?
That's pretty cool. Most guys here push it for 16' with their bandmills.

I worked for a sawmill/pallet plant that did some custom work.
Max was about 28"x28"x30'. They didn't put that on the main deck.


If you didn't secure both edges of the planks you could use white oak green and allow for shrinkage. Dip the end grain to slow drying and it might work fine for you.
With that sawmill possibilities are endless. I am green with envy.
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2011, 03:07:09 AM »

The pallet in this pic is white oak. I've had it 15 yrs, It had been around a few yrs before I made use of it. It's always been out in the weather. Of course your weather is different then here. It was heavier in it first years of life. the pine box is about 10 yrs old.

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HBW1412
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2011, 07:43:53 PM »

WPG - The longest I have ever cut was 34'.  That was really pushing it.  The husk, carriage, etc. are all made of wood.  I'm running it with a Detroit Diesel 3-71 at 1400 RPM and 299 lb. ft. of torque.  I use a 48" saw so my maximum log diameter is about 22 inches.  I have a 56" blade, but I don't have the type of teeth it uses and since I never cut anything that big I'm in no hurry to go buy them.

I've added track on both ends to make a total length of about 70 feet.  The carriage is 22' with 4 headblocks.  That means those logs are hanging 6' over each end of the carriage.  It's not exactly the safest thing in the world and I'm sure OSHA would love me, but I got the job done.

I've gotten several offers to buy my sawmill, but I'll never sell it.  It was purchased new by my great grandfather in 1896.  He would move this thing from one location to another to saw the timber.  He finally set it up on our farm in the early 50's.  He died back in the late 50's and my dad never used it and over time the wood rotted.  Then, when he retired in 1992 he rebuilt it with my help and we've been using it ever since.  I don't saw that much with it.  Maybe 2000 board feet per month.  I saw mostly mantles and beams.  Basically anything you can't go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get. 

If you really want one though, they can be had for as little as $500 in rough shape.  Have a sawmiller cut the wood and build it in your spare time.  I did this for a guy about 6 years ago and he uses his a LOT.  He's just not set up to cut longer lengths like I am.  Plus, he doesn't mind having his lumber "professionally" graded.  (I promise I won't get started)
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2011, 09:12:06 AM »

Im new to the forum but ive been building Top Bar Hives for close to 8 yrs and i prefer to use Cypress Wood whenever i can. Since im in the SE im able to get it at a reasonable price. My hives are on Urban Farmer, Ebay and kenny61.wordpress
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2011, 12:47:04 AM »

.... The husk, carriage, etc. are all made of wood... I use a 48" saw so my maximum log diameter is about 22 inches... The carriage is 22' with 4 headblocks.  That means those logs are hanging 6' over each end of the carriage...

I've gotten several offers to buy my sawmill, but I'll never sell it.  It was purchased new by my great grandfather in 1896....

Thanks, that is just great. Keep the family tradition going.

If the overhangs are equal there is no great stress on the headblocks.

It's alot more work, but you can do much larger logs by slabbing alittle off each side and work your way around. Maybe some chainsaw work before mounting.

We had a 60" bar for one of our chainsaws and used wedges to split the really big cottonwoods so they would fit the headsaw.

Can you mount another smaller blade just ahead and above the main blade to increase capacity? Separate framework and power.
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HBW1412
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 07:09:51 PM »

WPG - I think you are referring to a topsaw.  Yes, I have the mounting hardware, but I don't have it installed.  It runs off the main drive using either V-belts or a 6" flat belt depending on which pulley I use.  I've cut a few trees that were so big around that the saw didn't cut all the way thru, so I've certainly considered putting the topsaw on, but I hardly ever cut anything that big.  The few times I have I used either the chainsaw or axe to cut it from above.  I've since learned to identify the trees that will give me problems and I don't even bother cutting them anymore.

It sounds like you know your sawmills - I have a question for you.  Do you think the carbide teeth are worth the extra cost?  I've never used them because I think it would be to hard to sharpen them.  I don't have a debarker, so I think the grit would ruin them even though I get off as much grit as I can before sawing.  With the regular steel teeth I'm able to sharpen them fairly quickly without much trouble.  What are your thoughts?   
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 08:45:04 PM »

  Do you think the carbide teeth are worth the extra cost?

Thanks for the compliment. I know enough to get me into trouble. wait...

A lot to consider.

Are you talking 1-piece or with inserts?

No debarker? I would think half your time is spent sharpening.

You may not do enough sawing to justify the conversion.
I think carbide inserts are best. If you hit something and break a tooth-easy change out. You don't take a file to the 1-piecers while still mounted.

I also think they last longer even with grit.
I believe all the stump grinders use carbide bits and they contend with alot of grit.

Have a dedicated set-up to sharpen the carbide inserts and it doesn't take much time at all. You need extras of course.
 Some old-timers felt if you waited a week or two after sharpening before using a blade it kept its edge longer.

I think you may be handy enough to rig up your own de-barker.
I think it's really neat you still have all the hardware your great grandaddy got with the mill.
It wouldn't look stock, but you could rig the topsaw to swing out of the way when not needed. What size is it?

You're really filling an unique niche.
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HBW1412
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 10:52:12 AM »

WPG - I use the inserts.  I think you are right about it not being worth the cost to change over to carbide teeth.  I only saw about 1500-2000 BF a month. 

All the pieces are in the shed for the topsaw rig.  My family never throws anything away.  I believe it's a 30" or maybe a 32".  I'm not sure without measuring the diameter.

I learned real fast that without a debarker I have to take the axe and skim off a thin strip of bark where the saw cut will be.  There was a debarker at an auction I once attended.  It was right along side a hydraulic log turner.  When the auction started no one bid so the auctioneer asked for someone to make a bid.  I yelled out 50 bucks.  Well, that's all it took because the lot sold for $2600.  That was more than I could afford especially since I was there to buy a tractor, which I did - a Massey Ferguson 165.  Looking back though, I sometimes wish I had purchased the debarker and log turner.

Are/were you a professional sawyer?  Sounds like you might be.  I've never considered making my own debarker.  You've given me something to think about.  That's not a bad idea at all IF I can figure out how to rig it up.
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2011, 03:08:16 PM »

30"? nice size, takes some power.

Love auctions.

Wasn't the sawyer. Worked with him. I covered everything after him till it went on the truck.
Previous experiences allowed me to jump in the middle of things at a run.

Lots of ways to slap a debarker together. Depends on your spare inventory.
You have what it takes to build the deck(wood), add two sets of rollers(each could be 2 spare tires on hubs with chain sprockets connecting them), connect the sets with a shaft, gear down the drive.
Space the rollers to fit your shortest log comfortably.
 If you do alot of 8'ters and alot of say 25'ters then you need a third set of rollers. Place this set alittle higher so the log will clear the middle set easy.

The debarker head could be an old lawn edger(different blade), or a small self-propelled stump grinder on a counter-balanced pivot weighted to rest on the log.
A guide rod ahead of the blade would control the depth of cut. It would ride on the log and rise and fall as the log turned. The rod or pipe should have a curve so it doesn't hangup and be adjustable up and down to control the actual bite of the blade.
The advance of the carriage for the debarker head could be a cable loop driven by & geared down from the roller drive.

I design things as I dig thru the inventory available.

Keep the part #'s in your pocket for when you find some new/old stock of carbide bits in a box at an auction, don't do new. shocked
If you do mostly smaller diameter logs, maybe find a smaller blade. I remember seeing one time a 26" insert blade. Didn't get it.

You're in a great area with good variety of trees and population density to support a fun part-time profitable hobby. Your unusual capacity expands that.
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2011, 01:01:50 PM »

I build my hives out of cedar, the bees like it just fine. I don't think the acid content of the oak will cause any issues. Like others have said it comes down to weight and weather resistance. I think an oak hive would look really nice! Post pictures when you're done.
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2011, 02:53:25 PM »


An interesting sidenote...
I have an 1896 Frick sawmill so I cut all my own lumber.  

I'm insanely jealous now. I bought a 1937 John Deere D a few years back that was hooked up to a Frick sawmill and had been since it was new. The tractor was bought, but the man wouldnt part with his sawmill. What's pulling yours engine wise?
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HBW1412
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2011, 07:31:17 PM »

Sorry for taking so long to reply.  I have a 3-71 Detroit Diesel running the mill and an edger.  If I am sawing and someone is edging hardwoods it bogs down just a bit.  I am thinking about getting a larger motor.  Maybe a 6-71.  Problem with that is the extra fuel it would take.  I rarely need that much power for what I saw.  I don't saw that much anyway, so for now a several thousand dollar engine is out of the question. 

A 4-71 would be great too, but even it would bog down on big oaks, so I guess for now I'll just keep dreaming about that 6-71.
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