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Project by CueballRosendaul posted 06-13-2014 05:19 PM 2512 views 12 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I haven’t seen a honeybee on my property for two years now, and being a man of action, I decided I needed to do my part and help the bees. After looking at the price of boxes from apiary supply houses, I decided to build my own hives. I’d like to have a top-bar hive, but the gentleman who is selling the bees to me urged me to use a traditional Langstroth hive because his bees have lived in vertical boxes for hundreds of generations and they might not understand what to do in a top-bar and may just fly away.

Off to the internet to google some plan ideas and get the dimensions and returned to the shop with a printout from page 10 of Beekeeping Basics, a free e book . These diagrams are the best dimensions and easiest to read that I could find. The one minor issue with the plans was that the dimensions for the width appeared to be an outside dimension, but were actually an inside dimension, so my boxes ended up being 9 frame boxes instead of 10 because they’re 1.5” too narrow on that dimension. I’m buying the frames to go in them, so I didn’t make those, but the boxes, bottom board, stand, and roof were made with the box joint jig and almost all scrap pine pieces. I did have to buy one 1×12 for the deep hive body box. I’ll be building a few more boxes later this summer as the hive (hopefully) grows in population.

The bodies are simply a four sided box with a rabbet on two ends for the frames to rest on. The bottom board is built into the short stand and has a slide out bottom (for inspecting their trash and cleaning purposes) and it has a place for a screen above the slide out. In the hottest days of summer, I can remove the board and just leave the screened bottom open to keep them cool.

The entrance cleat is a nifty little device, simply ¾” square rod that fits in the opening. During busy times, it can be removed, but in winter it can be rotated to reveal a smaller opening. This smaller opening is easier for them to defend if the hive is getting robbed by other bees also.

The roof is heavily painted 1/2’’ plywood with a 2” overhang all around. The joint is glued and caulked, but I’m planning to coat it with sheet metal before the winter comes to prevent any leaks.

I’m planning to start a blog series here on this project because it will involve many more smaller projects as I work my way up to two full hives.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

11 comments so far

View Frank's profile


40 posts in 4432 days

#1 posted 06-13-2014 05:54 PM


Your hive looks great. This is something that I have been looking to do for the last 3 years and have just not found the time. I think you have inspired me to get started on my own hives. I look forward to following you blog and seeing how things go.


-- Some rescue cats, some rescue dogs. I rescue tools. Feel free to send me any tools you cannot take care of or don’t want and I will foster them until I find a good home for them.

View sval229's profile


87 posts in 4311 days

#2 posted 06-13-2014 06:04 PM

When bees swarm due to overcrowding does this guy think they’re gonna’ go find another Langstroth hive? Hell no. They gather on a tree branch, house rafter, car body. Check out the top bar hive in my projects and you could save some money on your first foray into bee keeping. It’s inexpensive and a nice build. Your hive looks great. Post some pics with the bees.

View CueballRosendaul's profile


484 posts in 2909 days

#3 posted 06-13-2014 08:03 PM

sval229, He’s an old fashioned guy who’s been doing bees for 40+ years, so he’s kinda stuck in a rut. I took his advice mostly because the other people I’ve talked to about top-bar hives in Michigan have had a tougher time with winter die offs. Besides my desire to be a guardian of bees, one of my goals with this whole thing is to apply my building science knowledge (I’m a home performance professional) to creating a hive that will more easily survive in Michigan. In a house, we need to stay warm in winter, cool in summer, and control humidity and pests year round, no different from a beehive. The way we build homes has changed over the years, and I think there might be some improvements with hives we can make as well.

When I build hive #2, I’m going to use thicker wood, so it has more thermal mass, as tree trunks do. Gary, who I bought the bees from , had a vertical hollow log on his property which had a continuous colony for 30 years. It was a tree trunk he got from someone else who had cut the tree down or it fell from a storm. I think the darker color and greater thermal mass and resistance might make a big difference over a white painted pine box made with 3/4” thick stock.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2318 days

#4 posted 06-13-2014 09:01 PM

Very nice job!

View mcgyver's profile


57 posts in 2640 days

#5 posted 06-14-2014 03:19 AM

nice hive. try serching internet for wharrae hive they are a square top bar that u can put langstrom frames in to start used in france and germany if they work in there cold then should work in michagan good luck

-- Mcgyver

View hoss12992's profile


4171 posts in 2662 days

#6 posted 06-14-2014 07:51 AM

That is just plain AWESOME! Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View DominicsWoodworks's profile


19 posts in 2271 days

#7 posted 06-14-2014 08:14 AM

Great build. We always need more bees!

-- Dominic's Woodworks -

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3573 days

#8 posted 06-15-2014 12:30 AM

Honey is one thing that should be on a shelf in every home.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View stanley_clifton's profile


196 posts in 4472 days

#9 posted 06-15-2014 07:19 PM

A very nice looking hive. On the top bar hive, I wouldn’t worry about the bees not knowing what to do:

-- Stanley generally struggling

View CueballRosendaul's profile


484 posts in 2909 days

#10 posted 06-16-2014 12:32 PM

Just to clarify also, the dimensions on the sheet in the photos are correct, but it’s hard to notice that the joinery in the pictures is just a butt joint, but I built mine with the typical box-joints, so where the width says 14 5/8”, that’s the inside dimension. Outside overall is 16 1/8. Since I misread that, my boxes are 1.5” narrower as a result, but frames are 1 3/8” wide, so 9 frames fit just fine.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View aurora's profile


237 posts in 4021 days

#11 posted 06-17-2014 10:28 PM

really nice hive box CR! the desigh, joinery and the aesthetics are top notch. really good feature on the opening “damper” stick.

i built a couple a few years back too. if the mites didn’t kill them the ohio winters did. after the last go round, i put 1.5” thick styrofoam insulation around the hives, held in place with 2 bungee cords around the circumference, and left a bit of a crack at the top for ventilation to prevent condensation. i take off the insulation in the spring.

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