Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Putting the hive together

We are starting with a very simple hive consisting of a hive body (box) with 10 frames. There is also a bottom board and lid that we had to put together. From what I've read most producing hive will have two of these body boxes with 2 more "supers" on top of them. The supers are not as tall as the hive bodies and used mainly for honey gathering. A "queen excluder" is placed between the hive bodies and supers to restrict her access to just the hive bodies, keeping the supers egg free. Below is what our hive body looks like prior to being painted.

The assembly of the body was quite easy. There were just four boards with dove tails cut in the sides. Some say to glue and nail them but we just used nails. The person we bought it from suggested this so that if you ever need to replace one of the boards you can just take the nails out (for $13.00 I'd just buy a new box kit). There are 10 nails on each corner; one in each side of each dove tail.

The top board with the hole in it was also easy with just four screws to put in. Everything was pre-cut and ready to go. We could have bought pre-assembled and even painted bodies but chose to assemble our own for the experience. This is a family project for us so having a hand in creating the hive is important. We also debated getting plans and building the box from scratch, but for our first time just buying it unassembled was much easier. Especially to make sure the spacing is correct.

Apparently there is something called "bee space" ( which is important in hive design. If you have things too close the bees will fill the space with propolis. If the space is too big they will fill it with honeycomb. Having the correct spacing on your hive components is what allows you to remove the frames and harvest the honey without destroying the hive.

I just mentioned "frames" above. These also had to be assembled and are what the bees will build their comb on to store honey and baby bees. The frames consist of a wood rectangle and a foundation in the middle to get them started making comb. There are already little hexagons all over the foundation. Ten of these frames will hang inside the box once complete.

At this point we have finished painting everything but still have about 7 more frames to put together. Our bees come in on Friday so we are getting kind of excited. Then we get to INSTALL THE BEES!!! (that phase always makes me laugh).

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