How to Build a Hive Box

Source:  How to Build a Hive Box    Tag:  pictures of hives in children
In 2006 when I got my first hives, I had no idea what to do. I hadn't ever seen anyone build a hive box. So for those of you who are starting this year and may be as intimidated as I was, here's a primer on how to build a hive box. Now, I'm a novice beekeeper so the experienced beekeepers are going to be much more expert than I am but I am posting this so that you won't be as alone in your efforts as I was the first year.

Note: Be sure to read the comments as more experienced beekeepers have already written some about what I have posted....and they are (probably not older) but certainly wiser than I am.

At this time of year, most new beekeepers are crossing their fingers and ordering their initial equipment. To have bees, if you are going to use Langstroth hives as most of us do, then most new beekeepers order hive boxes. These are wooden and come in pieces for you to put together. (Note: some boxes are Styrofoam and others can be ordered already assembled...for a price.)

Some of the catalog companies send nails with the hive boxes. I have a ton of left over nails, enough to fill a 9 inch cake pan. Since I am moving to all medium boxes, I am screwing my boxes together in order to be able to take them apart if something gets broken.

If it looks like I am doing this assembly in my living room, it's because I am. I like to put these things together in front of the TV. What's really boring is building frames - that I definitely do in front of the TV!


Step One in hive box construction:
Make sure the cut-in handle is facing the same direction on each box part. In this medium box from Brushy Mountain (I think - I've had it since last year) you can't put the box together wrong, but in some box sizes and from some companies, the notches are exactly the same either direction and it's possible to turn one side so that the handle is upside down. A comment (see below) also notes that it doesn't work if you have the handles on the inside of the box, so also make sure that you have the handles facing to the outside of the box!


Step Two: I use a rubber mallet to hammer the notches in place before I permanently attach them. These boxes fit quite tightly and need the mallet to fit together. The boxes I ordered from Dadant fit together with more ease.

At this point most people (see comments on this post) put glue in the joints. I haven't been doing that and will probably regret it, although since I screw my boxes together, I expect them to stay more securely than if I nailed them.


Step Three: Make sure you have the box notched together properly and the handles are all facing the same direction.


Step Four: Nail or screw the box together. My daddy taught me to lubricate the screw with soap. You can also use beeswax for this purpose. Whether you nail or screw, I go around and do one fastener (nail or screw) in each corner, rather than screwing all of them in at once on one side. I don't know if that is good construction or just what I do. It seems to make sense to put it together in a balanced way.

Then you are done and you paint the box. I used interior paint on all of my boxes and they've held up just fine, but ideally you will use exterior paint to help your box last longer. You only paint the outside of the box - not the inside and not the rail inside for hanging the frames - simply paint the outside four sides of the box.

I'll post another beginner help post in the next day or two...maybe how to build a frame with a word or two about foundation. Posted by Picasa