I was able to start the construction of my top-bar hives this last Sat. I got most of the pieces cut out and ready to assemble. The last parts that I have yet to cut are end pieces for the frame of the roof.
Since I’m doing this over a few days of work and am posting in in parts it may get a bit jumbled. Add to that that I am working on the hive parts in no particular order, and it is probably a bit confusing. I plan on making a single page covering the whole construction once it is all done. Thankfully WordPress allows you to make static pages to go with your blog posts.
The first bit of work I did was to cut the rest of the top-bars out of 1×2’s. I cut 35 19″ bars. I haven’t yet finished them. These will be the brood bars and need to be cut down to 1 1/4″ wide (they are 1 1/2″ now). Once they are cut to the proper width, then I will need to run them through the same procedure I used before to form the comb guide. I wanted to get started on other parts of the hive though, so I set these aside to finish later.
The main body of the hive will be made from 3/4″ plywood. Both hives will be made from one 4’x8′ sheet. Since my car can’t handle a full sheet and cutting full sheets can be a pain, I had the plywood cut down at the home improvement store where I got it. They have a nice setup for cutting full sheets of plywood, and the will do two cut for free. I had them cut the sheet into three pieces: 30″, 30″, and 36″ wide (all are 4′ long). The 30″ pieces I cut in half at home to use for the sides (each piece 15″ wide). The 36″ piece is for the ends.
The side pieces are 15″ wide and have a “tab” on the ends. This is to strengthen the connection with the end pieces. It will allow me to use screws in two directions. It also uses the “tabs” so the sides essentially hang on the ends, instead of placing all the stress on screws. Since the legs will be attached to the end pieces, this should strengthen connection between the sides and ends. It does mean a little more work though. I first cut them to length, saving the small piece to use to make a brace later. To make the “tabs’, I did the majority of the long cuts on the table saw but had to finish with a hand saw. I band saw would be useful here, but I don’t have one. 😛 The tabs were cut on both ends of all 4 sides.
I next turned my attention to the end pieces. These by fare are the most complicated to cut. They have a number of angles, and a a bit to large to use the miter gauge. They also have some inside angles that can’t be cut fully on the table saw. I started by cutting the 36″ into pieces the correct size for the ends. This will also leave a 4′ strip that will be used for the clean out doors (at the bottom of the hive ends). I drew the pattern of the ends on each as a guide. These were cut out using a combination of the table saw and the hand saw.
I next cut out the clean out doors that will be the bottom portion of the ends of the hive. These were made from the 4′ strip left after cutting out the ends. This strip was ripped in half and then cut with the proper angles on the ends. These will attached to the end pieces using hinges and provide a way to clean out the bottom of the hive since it will have upper entrances.
With all of the major parts of the hive body cut out, I turned my attention to the roof. I started with the ridge pole. This was made from a 8′ 2×4 (making two ridge poles). I tipped the saw blade to 20 degrees (the angle of the roof) and using the fences ripped along the length of 2×4. The 2×4 was then flipped over and run through again, making a second angled cut with the ridge centered. In addition, this also produces a small wedge of wood with a 20 degree side that I plan on using as the rail that the top-bars will rest on. In order to get enough of the rails, I actually ran the 2×4 through this process twice (first with the fence further out, then with is closer). This produced the ridge poles and the rails for the top-bars.
I next cut the pieces for the long, bottom edge of the roof frame. These were made from 2×2’s and were cut to 4′ (the length of the roof). These were rabbeted to form a stronger joint. I did this by setting the blade to 3/4″ high and nibbling away the material in multiple passes. This will also be done for the shorter edge pieces of the roof frame, but it was time for dinner and I had to end for the day. Once the rest of the roof frame pieces are done, I should be ready to start assembly.