One of the “accessories” that I wanted to make for my TBH’s was a follower board. They are useful in limiting the space a small hive has. This can help because the small hive would have less space to heat or defend. With a Langstroth hive, people can use a nuc or a single hive body when a hive is small (larger hives often take multiple hive bodies). Since I won’t be able to just add hive bodies as the hive grows, the follower board will allow me to avoid starting my bees in too big of a space.
I had some scrap plywood sitting around, so I used that. It is just a hair over 1/4″ thick so I would guess it was sold as 3/8″, but I am not sure. I started by cutting out a piece the shape of the hive. I made it taller than the inside of the hive so that I could attach two 19″ long strips at the top (these strips will sit on top of the rails that the top-bars sit on). The angles on the hive sides didn’t end up exactly on, so the piece I cut out for the follower board didn’t fit exactly flush with the sides. To fix this I used some of the 1/4″ thick strips that were leftover from ripping the brood bars down to 1 1/4″. With the follower board in the hive, I held the strip up to the wall of the hive and marked along its edge on the follower board. I then glued and stapled the strips in place. Once this was done one each side, the follower board fit nice and snuggly without any large gaps. I am guessing that this doesn’t really needed to be this “tight”, but I figured this way I could also use the hive as a double nuc if I really needed to (a different hive on each end, each with their own entrance). I also glues and stapled the 19″ strips of plywood to the top of the follower board. They will sit on the top-bar rails and also provide a little more space between the follower board and the adjacent top-bar (bee space).
I had been wondering about feeding the bees when I first installed the package. I set it up so that I could feed from the back (to help avoid robbing). With a feeder board in place at the start however, the bees would not have access to the back of the hive. What I decided to do was to cut a slot to fit the feeder at the bottom of the follower board. This way I can have the feeder inside the back of the hive (sticking through a slot in the bottom of the follower board). This way, the feeder is still only accessible inside the hive and I can have the follower board in place. Once I cut the slot, I will take a picture showing what I mean.