I have posted before about my preliminary hive plans. I have made some revisions, but the overall plan is quite similar. One of the things I had gone back and forth about was the length of the top-bar and the overall volume. I finally decided to go with a 19″ top-bar. This is the same length as the frame in a Langstroth hive, which would allow comb to be move to conventional hives if that was ever wanted. Using 19″ bars left me with less volume than I would like however. It was a reasonable volume (~80 liters) but might not have left a lot of room for honey storage. Those plans had sides that were 30 degree off vertical. Some people have suggested that 30 degrees was a good angle to discourage the bees from attaching the comb to the sides. Others however don’t see much of a difference in attachment. A good discussion of the advantages of sloped/straight side can be found here. Since I still like some of the advantages suggested for sloped sides and I prefer how they look, I am still using sloped sides. I did however change the angle in order to get more volume. The sides are now at 20 degrees of vertical. I also changed the angle of the roof slightly so I can still make both hives from one sheet of 3/4″ plywood. With these changes, the hive volume is now ~112 liters. I also added a couple of small braces at the bottom to strengthen it (since the bottom is only a screen and not structural).
As I mentioned earlier, I used Google’s free SketchUp program to design the hive in 3D. It was very easy to learn, and allowed me to fiddle with the design and see the results. It also hopefully helped my get my dimensions right so it will all fit together in real life like it does in the virtual world. 🙂 Since I think I now have my plans essentially finalize, I uploaded the whole thing to Google’s 3D Warehouse. You should be able to find it and download it if you are interested (Kawayanan’s Kenyan Top-bar Hive). Looking at it in 3D definitely makes everything clearer. I also made each piece a component, so it can be virtually disassembled and reassembled. You can also measure everything and check angles and such. I also included a 4′ x 8′ example plywood sheet showing how to get all the parts out of one sheet.
Here is everything that I think I will need to build two full hives (though I am sure I will forget something):
- 1 4’x8′ 3/4″ sheet of plywood (for the sides and ends)
- 2 8′ pressure treated 2×4’s (or 10′ depending on how long you want the legs)
- 12 8′ 1×2’s for the 60 top-bars (I think thats probably about right, but I will most likely make more to have a few extra)
- 4 8′ 2×2’s for the roof frame
- 1 4’x8′ sheet of panel board for the roof and removable bottom board (I actually got tile board because it has a nice white finish on one side)
- 2 10’x20″ rolls of aluminum flashing to cover the roof (for a nice weather resistant and shiny top)
- 1 8′ 2×4 to make the ridge pole of the roof
- 2 linear feet of 36″ wide #8 hardware cloth for the screened bottom
- 8 hinges for the clean out doors (and some sort of latch to keep them shut)
- nuts and bolts to attach the legs
- screws, nails, and staples (I won’t count how many 😛 )
Hopefully I can get started this weekend and will have some actual pictures instead of the model to show off. I am pretty sure I won’t completely finish them since I have other Sat. responsibilities too, but hopefully I can get a good ways. My bees should be here in almost exactly one month.! 🙂