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Author Topic: Attention woodworkers - building advice needed!  (Read 1177 times)
Moots
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« on: February 16, 2014, 10:39:13 AM »

Going into my second year as a Beek, I'm thinking it's time to get around to making an observation hive.  This is something that's been on my Beekeeping "to do" list.  Personally, I could put it off a little longer, but my wife has been itching for it, plus I think it would aid me in learning more about the girls.

After much though and research, and realizing that my woodworking skills are average at best, I've decided on the 8 frame medium detailed at Honey Run Apiaries.

LINK to PDF of Plans

My question is, and what I'm debating....Is it really necessary to build the outer frame with 2X4's?  He does refer to the construction being "heavy duty" to be dog, cat, and child proof....NONE of which I have.   grin

I'm thinking 1X4's would make it a lot less bulky looking, not to mention a bit lighter...but just want to make sure it's still structurally sound.

Also, I'm toying with the idea of leaving off the jar feeder, since I'm trying not to feed unless absolutely necessary...in an emergency I'd simply insert a frame of honey instead.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2014, 07:53:03 PM »

This guy did a really nice job on documenting how he made his: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,30161.0.html

He would be the first one I would ask.
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2014, 04:20:08 AM »

After much though and research, and realizing that my woodworking skills are average at best, I've decided on the 8 frame medium detailed at Honey Run Apiaries.


Hmm, their image links are broken for me, but there's the Wayback Machine's copy.

It certainly looks like something an intermediary woodworker would be able to accomplish.

Quote
I'm thinking 1X4's would make it a lot less bulky looking, not to mention a bit lighter...but just want to make sure it's still structurally sound.


Having recently started building bee hives myself I feel sympathy for you, because it is not easy to judge (without a lot of experience) whether a construction would be structurally sound or not.  But hey, if you go for 1x4's and it turns out to be wobbly, you can always attach diagonals to the opposing corners to stabilise it.

Quote
Also, I'm toying with the idea of leaving off the jar feeder, since I'm trying not to feed unless absolutely necessary...in an emergency I'd simply insert a frame of honey instead.


In an emergency you might not have enough time or good enough weather to open up the thing and insert that frame.  Having the feeder gives you some peace of mind and an escape if you really can't open the thing and you really have to feed.

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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 08:06:12 AM »


Hmm, their image links are broken for me, but there's the Wayback Machine's copy.



Link was broken for me also...thanks so much for digging up the archived copy...  grin
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2014, 02:31:20 PM »

Ok,
Not much weigh in on the 2X4 vs 1x4 option....so I've decided to proceed with the 1X4 frame.  It's progressing along, but I've hit another, or should I say, will hit another couple of points of uncertain fairly soon and wanted some opinions.

Issue #1,  The current design that I'm following calls for the frames of the doors to butt up against the inside frame when the doors or shut.  I see two potential problems there, First, a lot of smashed bees when closing the door, and second, an invitation for them to propolize the seam.  a 7/8" door frame is what is currently called for and would fit flush.  What would be the problem or drawback to making my door frame  1/2" wide, assuming it'll be structurally sound, thus leaving 3/8" (bee space) between the inside frame and door frame when shut???

Issue #2, This design doesn't have a screen bottom with an accessible clean out drawer or compartment...I had not planned on putting one either, but could possibly still modify mid project to accommodate one...but would prefer not to!  Is this a mistake and this is really needed, or is it more of a "nice to have", but not a must?

Any and all input appreciated.
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"We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2014, 03:25:58 PM »

Some thoughts (take them or leave them):

After much though and research, and realizing that my woodworking skills are average at best, I've decided on the 8 frame medium detailed at Honey Run Apiaries.

LINK to PDF of Plans


Probably a good choice. I don't recommend anything smaller than 3 deep frames or 4 medium frames. Personally I don't really like anything larger than 6 medium frames, just due to the weight of the item, but this size should work nicely for you. The single frame thickness is key, in my opinion, to truly maximizing the value you get from an observation hive (and really seeing everything that happens). The design also doesn't call for many complex joints or cuts, which is good for a modest woodworker.

My question is ...Is it really necessary to build the outer frame with 2X4's?  . . . I'm thinking 1X4's would make it a lot less bulky looking, not to mention a bit lighter...but just want to make sure it's still structurally sound.


I'd recommend against going with 1x4's. Two concerns I get. First, you are using but joints in the corners, not complex joints (which is fine). A screw put into end grain doesn't provide fantastic hold as is. Now add into the fact that you cut down the thickness of the wood by half, reducing the surface area that will be glued, and it's a significantly weaker joint. In addition, this thing should be about 5 feet tall I think, with only a little bit of support in the middle. A 1" thick board (which is really .75" thick) and 5 feet long can really bend considerably. A 2" thick board (which is really 1.5" thick) will also bend, but much less so. Trust me when I say this, you don't want any of these boards to bend or shift when you are moving this thing from it's stable spot to outdoors for maintenance . . . TRUST ME!

One of my designs had a think peice of wood on the side rails. I had to throw it into a car to take the hive to an outyard to stock it before taking it back home (which really wasn't a good idea anyway). I hit a bump in the road, the wood flexed, popped out of the locking mechanism that was holding it in place, and the hive burst open. While I was on a highway, in an enclosed car.

Your situation isn't as extreme, I know, but the same thing could happen when you move it outside to do maintenance. You'll need two people to move it (it will be heavy, regardless of whether you use 1" or 2" wood), and if you lay it on it's side (any side) the wood may flex some.

Not to say you can't use 1" thick wood. Looks like you already chose that. But just test it out before you put bees in it. If it seems to flex a little, glue another 1" thick board to the outside. My take on it at least.

Also, I'm toying with the idea of leaving off the jar feeder, since I'm trying not to feed unless absolutely necessary...in an emergency I'd simply insert a frame of honey instead.


I'd change your thought process post haste. You need a jar feeder. You need a feeder of some kind. Even if you hope to never use it, have it anyway.

Observation hive colonies can't really regulate brood or temps like they can in a normal colony. As a result, they are very "boom" or "bust". The issues an observation hive encounters are the same issues a normal colony encounters, only it has a much quicker effect on the colony overall, for one because their configuration is different, but mainly because their population is smaller. I've seen Observation Hives crash in a matter of days, for a variety of reasons. One of a few being not enough stores. So you need to be able to feed them at the moment you notice a problem, and not later, as the weather may not be right for you to take them outside and do the work you need to (or you don't have time because of work, or you don't have a second person around to help you move the hive). While a normal hive will hang in there for a few days for you to get around to it, an Observation Hive won't always. They'll just swarm, abscond, die, get infested with SHB (or wax moths occasionally) all because you didn't get around to it that day.

Get a feeder. You won't regret it.

Issue #1,  The current design that I'm following calls for the frames of the doors to butt up against the inside frame when the doors or shut.  I see two potential problems there, First, a lot of smashed bees when closing the door, and second, an invitation for them to propolize the seam.  a 7/8" door frame is what is currently called for and would fit flush.  What would be the problem or drawback to making my door frame  1/2" wide, assuming it'll be structurally sound, thus leaving 3/8" (bee space) between the inside frame and door frame when shut???


By saying the inside frame is butted up against the frame of the door, I'm assuming  you are referring to the "self spacing" portions of the end bars on the frames, right?

If so, this is exactly what you want. As tight of a fit in this spot, the better (believe it or not). This will literally hold the frame in place as you move the whole observation hive inside or out. Larger and it will shift when you move it. When that happens, it's impossible to correct. You can lose an entire side of one frame, as the bee space becomes too small, and it gets infested with SHB as they can't clean it out. The other side then becomes too thick, and bee space is not right, and the bees build wax on the frame. A disaster (again, I know from personal experience).

The key in a good observation hive is two fold:
1. The frame of the door butts up tight to the self spacing portion of the frame end bars (and you can put vasaline on the door frame or end bars before you close it, which cuts down considerably on propolis), and
2. The glass of the door (or window) recessed away from the door itself. If not (like if you took a sheet of glass and just screwed it to the side of the observation hive) the bee space is off.

Remember to maintain the right bee space from GLASS TO GLASS! That's 1 3/4" from my perspective (talked about this issue in Post #9 here: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,30161.0.html). Some observation hives are slightly more, others slightly less. Mike Bush talks about this somewhere on his website, and opinions vary, but 1 3/4" from glass to glass appears to work best for me.

Issue #2, This design doesn't have a screen bottom with an accessible clean out drawer or compartment...I had not planned on putting one either, but could possibly still modify mid project to accommodate one...but would prefer not to!  Is this a mistake and this is really needed, or is it more of a "nice to have", but not a must?


Not a must at all. I've had it in some, not in others. I haven't really noticed any difference. In my last build, I had a slide out drawer so I could do mite counts. I don't think I ever really did. It ends up making a compartment that the bees can't access and clean, so you have to (more work for you). Without the screen, the bees will clean it out when they need to.

I've seen, occasionally, when things get really bad, they may not clean out the bottom right away. But that's really just an indication to you that something is going on that might require your intervention.

As long as the ventilation in the hive is correct, you don't need a screened bottom. Proper vent holes are, however, necessary.

Let me know if any of it wasn't clear. I'll see if I can help in any way possible.
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Moots
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2014, 04:44:26 PM »

specialkayme,
Thanks so much for taking the time to give your input...

After much though and research, and realizing that my woodworking skills are average at best, I've decided on the 8 frame medium detailed at Honey Run Apiaries.

LINK to PDF of Plans

Probably a good choice. I don't recommend anything smaller than 3 deep frames or 4 medium frames. Personally I don't really like anything larger than 6 medium frames, just due to the weight of the item, but this size should work nicely for you. The single frame thickness is key, in my opinion, to truly maximizing the value you get from an observation hive (and really seeing everything that happens). The design also doesn't call for many complex joints or cuts, which is good for a modest woodworker.


Glad to hear this, I really wanted it to be large enough to have a chance of long term sustainability, and was really tied to keeping it a single stack for the same reason you mention.


My question is ...Is it really necessary to build the outer frame with 2X4's?  . . . I'm thinking 1X4's would make it a lot less bulky looking, not to mention a bit lighter...but just want to make sure it's still structurally sound.

I'd recommend against going with 1x4's. Two concerns I get. First, you are using but joints in the corners, not complex joints (which is fine). A screw put into end grain doesn't provide fantastic hold as is. Now add into the fact that you cut down the thickness of the wood by half, reducing the surface area that will be glued, and it's a significantly weaker joint. In addition, this thing should be about 5 feet tall I think, with only a little bit of support in the middle. A 1" thick board (which is really .75" thick) and 5 feet long can really bend considerably. A 2" thick board (which is really 1.5" thick) will also bend, but much less so. Trust me when I say this, you don't want any of these boards to bend or shift when you are moving this thing from it's stable spot to outdoors for maintenance . . . TRUST ME!

One of my designs had a think peice of wood on the side rails. I had to throw it into a car to take the hive to an outyard to stock it before taking it back home (which really wasn't a good idea anyway). I hit a bump in the road, the wood flexed, popped out of the locking mechanism that was holding it in place, and the hive burst open. While I was on a highway, in an enclosed car.

Your situation isn't as extreme, I know, but the same thing could happen when you move it outside to do maintenance. You'll need two people to move it (it will be heavy, regardless of whether you use 1" or 2" wood), and if you lay it on it's side (any side) the wood may flex some.

Not to say you can't use 1" thick wood. Looks like you already chose that. But just test it out before you put bees in it. If it seems to flex a little, glue another 1" thick board to the outside. My take on it at least.


Yes, that ship has already sailed,  Sad.  But you make lots of good points, and I have some plans on how to sure it up structurally if needed.


Also, I'm toying with the idea of leaving off the jar feeder, since I'm trying not to feed unless absolutely necessary...in an emergency I'd simply insert a frame of honey instead.

I'd change your thought process post haste. You need a jar feeder. You need a feeder of some kind. Even if you hope to never use it, have it anyway.

Observation hive colonies can't really regulate brood or temps like they can in a normal colony. As a result, they are very "boom" or "bust". The issues an observation hive encounters are the same issues a normal colony encounters, only it has a much quicker effect on the colony overall, for one because their configuration is different, but mainly because their population is smaller. I've seen Observation Hives crash in a matter of days, for a variety of reasons. One of a few being not enough stores. So you need to be able to feed them at the moment you notice a problem, and not later, as the weather may not be right for you to take them outside and do the work you need to (or you don't have time because of work, or you don't have a second person around to help you move the hive). While a normal hive will hang in there for a few days for you to get around to it, an Observation Hive won't always. They'll just swarm, abscond, die, get infested with SHB (or wax moths occasionally) all because you didn't get around to it that day.

Get a feeder. You won't regret it.


Glad to say, I had already thought better of this and did include the feeding jar... piano


Issue #1,  The current design that I'm following calls for the frames of the doors to butt up against the inside frame when the doors or shut.  I see two potential problems there, First, a lot of smashed bees when closing the door, and second, an invitation for them to propolize the seam.  a 7/8" door frame is what is currently called for and would fit flush.  What would be the problem or drawback to making my door frame  1/2" wide, assuming it'll be structurally sound, thus leaving 3/8" (bee space) between the inside frame and door frame when shut???


By saying the inside frame is butted up against the frame of the door, I'm assuming  you are referring to the "self spacing" portions of the end bars on the frames, right?

If so, this is exactly what you want. As tight of a fit in this spot, the better (believe it or not). This will literally hold the frame in place as you move the whole observation hive inside or out. Larger and it will shift when you move it. When that happens, it's impossible to correct. You can lose an entire side of one frame, as the bee space becomes too small, and it gets infested with SHB as they can't clean it out. The other side then becomes too thick, and bee space is not right, and the bees build wax on the frame. A disaster (again, I know from personal experience).

The key in a good observation hive is two fold:
1. The frame of the door butts up tight to the self spacing portion of the frame end bars (and you can put vasaline on the door frame or end bars before you close it, which cuts down considerably on propolis), and
2. The glass of the door (or window) recessed away from the door itself. If not (like if you took a sheet of glass and just screwed it to the side of the observation hive) the bee space is off.

Remember to maintain the right bee space from GLASS TO GLASS! That's 1 3/4" from my perspective (talked about this issue in Post #9 here: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,30161.0.html). Some observation hives are slightly more, others slightly less. Mike Bush talks about this somewhere on his website, and opinions vary, but 1 3/4" from glass to glass appears to work best for me.


OK, This is where I follow "most" of what you are saying but am a little confused!  And would like to verify a few things.  Not sure how closely you looked at the design I'm using, but it has for lack of a better description, an inner and outer frame. (I'm not sure if this is how most OH's are done are not)...Regardless, the inner frame, the one that has the frame rest cut into it, is 1 3/4" wide, the outer frame board which it attaches to is 3 1/2" wide.  This calls for a door frame of 7/8" thickness on each side in order to butt tightly against the inner frame/frame rest, as you recommend. 

However, going with your recommendation of 1 3/4" from glass to glass, which was great information by the way, b/c I wasn't sure what that number needed to be  grin....Anyway, I digress,  Smiley  Assuming that's what I need and want, my glass door frame would have to have the glass mounted flush on the inside to maintain that space.  But yet you reference the importance of recessing the glass from the door.  The plans I used as a guide has the glass recessed into the door frame 3/16" on each side.

So, would you recommend mounting the glass flush, recessed only 1/4", to compensate for the thickness of the glass, into my 7/8" door frame to give me 1 3/4" glass to glass.  Or, recessed 3/16" ,beyond the 1/4" needed for the thickness of the glass, on each side from the door frame, thus giving me 2 1/8" glass to glass.  huh

Also, since my dado's for my frame rest are 1 3/4" wide (the width of the inner frame), that seems to allow quite a bit of room for movement, which is something I was already concerned about, and you seem to confirm my concerns and fears.  Sad

For this reason, I was considering making the back side door fixed and inoperable anyway, should I put a shim into that side of the dado cut for the frame rest to encourage the frames staying centered?

Issue #2, This design doesn't have a screen bottom with an accessible clean out drawer or compartment...I had not planned on putting one either, but could possibly still modify mid project to accommodate one...but would prefer not to!  Is this a mistake and this is really needed, or is it more of a "nice to have", but not a must?

Not a must at all. I've had it in some, not in others. I haven't really noticed any difference. In my last build, I had a slide out drawer so I could do mite counts. I don't think I ever really did. It ends up making a compartment that the bees can't access and clean, so you have to (more work for you). Without the screen, the bees will clean it out when they need to.

I've seen, occasionally, when things get really bad, they may not clean out the bottom right away. But that's really just an indication to you that something is going on that might require your intervention.

As long as the ventilation in the hive is correct, you don't need a screened bottom. Proper vent holes are, however, necessary.

Let me know if any of it wasn't clear. I'll see if I can help in any way possible.


Kind of what I was hoping...Glad to hear!

Again, thanks for the input and advice...Greatly appreciated.  Never realized there was so much to think about with an observation hive, till I started to think about it.  laugh

So far, it's been a fun project, frustrating at times....BUT FUN!
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specialkayme
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2014, 08:06:49 PM »

Your designs have the "Inner Side" pieces being 1 3/4". I would trim these down to 1 3/8" thick. Your "rails" already provide for 3/16" between the "inner sides" and the glass. This will make the 1 3/4" from glass to glass you're looking for, and will hold the frames in place just the way you want. Then you just need to adjust the parts around the inner sides to accommodate the "trim".
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2014, 08:09:26 PM »

I would also consider using something other than Plexi-glass. I custom ordered some safety glass from a glass worker. It's heavy, and expensive, but I'd totally do it again if I had to.
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2014, 10:04:26 PM »

Your designs have the "Inner Side" pieces being 1 3/4". I would trim these down to 1 3/8" thick. Your "rails" already provide for 3/16" between the "inner sides" and the glass. This will make the 1 3/4" from glass to glass you're looking for, and will hold the frames in place just the way you want. Then you just need to adjust the parts around the inner sides to accommodate the "trim".

specialkayme,
I'm proceeding with your suggestion as detailed above, as well as plan on using 1/4" glass instead of plexiglass, as you suggested.  Glad I got your response when I did, I wasn't far from starting assembly, that would have been the point of no return.  As it was, I just had to pull of the screen I had covering the holes and re-rip each side....not bad at all, AGAIN....Thanks so much for the help.

One afterthought....do you think the middle piece on each door between the two pieces of glass is adding something structurally, or is one sheet of glass per side possibly an option?
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 11:36:33 PM »

There is a thin plastic sheet that can be applied to ordinary window glass that makes it like safety/security glass.

Like tinting the windows of a car with shaded plastic.

If the glass breaks or shatters it wouldn't fall apart.

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2014, 12:24:06 AM »

I was looking at the plans and had a thought.  Why have doors on both sides?  Also, why not make two doors on one side?  If you wanted to get more complicated you could have a door for each frame.  You may not need to access the whole hive at once if you are only adding a frame or two of honey.  Keep in mind that I have had beekeeping as a hobby for just under a year and woodworking has been a hobby for 30+ years.
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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2014, 02:03:59 AM »

This has been very helpful - thanks Moots and other posters. 

I'm thinking of a quick and dirty, particularly as I only intend to keep it going for a few weeks during an emergency queen response before transferring to a nuc. I've got a Sketchup design exported as a pdf that I can post if one of the moderators can tell me how ( - thanks, first posting).

Once this is up I will elaborate....

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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2014, 07:25:28 AM »

as well as plan on using 1/4" glass instead of plexiglass, as you suggested.

Not regular glass. Safety glass.

One afterthought....do you think the middle piece on each door between the two pieces of glass is adding something structurally, or is one sheet of glass per side possibly an option?

One sheet of glass per side is an option, but not something I'd recommend.

If you went with 1/4" safety glass though, then I think it's possible.
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2014, 07:30:23 AM »

Why have doors on both sides?

Not needed. You really don't need to access a frame from both sides. Just one side, then pull the frame out. By securing the other "door" to the frame, it makes it much more structurally sound.  

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