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Build It | How to Build a Beehive

In this Build It video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor get to work building a hive for honeybees.

Host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva at the shop as the two get busy building a beehive. Starting with the bottom board (the hive version of a basement), the two build the main hive body, the racks (also known as frames), and the top covers. With all the individual pieces necessary, the pair make use of a variety of materials and power tools to assemble the entire hive.

How To Build a Beehive

Build the Bottom Board

The bottom board acts as a basement or foundation for the hive, so it needs to be sturdy. It also needs to provide a landing and take-off area for bees as they come and go.

  1. Cut 1-by stock to length on a miter saw. Then rip the front, back, and sides of the bottom board to width on a table saw.
  2. Cut half-lap joints on the table saw. This is possible with a stacked dado set or simply making repeated passes over the table saw blade with a miter gauge. Also, cut a rabbet in the bottom board’s side pieces to accept a flat strip of wood that will act as a runway.
  3. Cut a dado down the length of the inside faces of the side boards to receive a thin sheet of plastic to act as a floor.
  4. Use glue and nails to assemble the bottom board. Once assembled, pre-drill and drive screws through each joint to improve their strength. Finally, staple hardware cloth or screen to the bottom of the board and slide the plastic floor in place.

Build the Main Box

  1. Use the miter saw to cut wider pine stock to length.
  2. The main box does not have a top and bottom, so it’s necessary to create half-lap joints on the table saw for strength. Also, the racks of honey (called frames) need to sit on a ledge, so the top-inside edge of each side board requires a rabbet. Raise the table saw blade so it is exactly ¾-inch high, and so the space between the blade and the saw fence is exactly ⅜-inch. Pass each side board’s end over the saw blade, holding it vertically against the fence. Pass the boards over the blade again, this time cutting the top edge of both side boards. Next, adjust the saw so the blade is ⅜-inch in height and exactly ¾-inch from the saw fence (reverse of the first steps). Passing the boards over the blade again should result in perfect rabbets.
  3. Glue, assemble, nail, and then screw the box together. This box will bear a lot of weight, so it’s important to use a quality exterior wood glue.

Build the Top

  1. Start by milling the front, back, and side pieces, as well as a piece of luan to fit between them. Be sure to follow the dimensions provided in the plans.
  2. Cut a dado down the middle of the inside face of each piece. Also, cut a small notch across the bottom of each piece to allow for airflow and bee movement.
  3. Pre-drill and drive a screw through each corner to create a frame. Before attaching the final side, slide the luan into the dado, then secure it in place with the final piece.
  4. Cut four small diagonal braces to stretch across each corner. Glue the ends, place them on the inside of the top, and nail through the outside of the frame.
  5. Cap the top with a piece of aluminum flashing.

Resources

There are a lot of beehive plans to choose from online. Try these free beehive plans from The Spruce.


Materials


Tools