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March 16, 2009
Those questions in Part 1 will help you avoid some problems and provide some insight as you go forward. Now that you have picked your design of hives, let’s address some basic things that will help in your construction. Modifications and recommended equipment is in part 3.
For now, just take these things as presented. You can always search the internet for more info or for a different point of view. The material of the hive (wood, plastic, foam, straw, concrete etc.) will require some different techniques. The following is generic and should apply to most hives; I’ll refer to a Langstroth hive so you can follow along. You will need to take your climate in consideration with your hive choice. Here’s my opinion on the following in no specific order:
1. The bees don’t care what color you pick. Darker colors will absorb more heat from the sun. Many will say to use white. My all purpose color is silver. Works good in the summer and is warmer in the winter than white. Accent colors make hives look great just like your house.
2. What parts can you paint? All of the outside including landing boards and stands. Do not paint the inside of the hive. Sometimes you will have no problems, sometimes you will if you paint the inside. Do not paint frames.
3. Latex paint seems the best generally. Remember that beekeepers used oil based paint before latex for decades. Do not use epoxy paint.
CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL AND DETAILS:
1. Generally wood is the #1 choice, but also usually expensive. Consider used wood or salvaged wood from pallets. It is more work, but the savings can be great.
2. Exterior wall thickness including the bottom board is determined by your climate. For example, if you are where it gets COLD you need to use 1½" material or apply some other type of insulation to the exterior. If you are where it gets HOT, you can use thinner wood or any other material. NOTE: if you are in the tropics, thick wall hives take longer to cool at night and longer to warm during the morning, use good ventilation.
3. Many companies sell cypress wood. Yes it lasts longer. I don’t think it is worth the extra money. Just take care of the regular stuff and it will last many years.
4. Treated or untreated wood. Untreated except hive stands. Here a few extra bucks are a good investment for many reasons.
5. Glue all joints both inside and out well. TIP: Fill cracks or splits in the hive with glue to avoid pest egg laying areas. Using a small brush makes a better job, remove saw dust and dirt before gluing, coat both sides of joints thinly for a good bond.
6. Use thin nails if you can find them. Predrill screw holes to avoid breakage/splitting. Any nail tip that penetrates to far and sticks out, file off or knock back, as these will make cleaning the hive harder and at some point you will cut your hand on them.