Building my own observation hive
As a beginner and weekend beekeeper I can hardly resist opening up my (for now only) hive every week. I plan on doing at least one split and catching a few swarms next spring and was considering getting an observation hive. The ones I've seen sold here in Portugal are not particularly interesting so I was thinking of building my own. Here's the plan I've come up with so far:
- Building a 6 frame single wide in 3widex2high configuration that I can set on a table
- Put plexiglass on both sides
- Set it on a table and hold it down with a sort of A-frame style support on both ends
- Cover it with some kind of waterproof tarp (if I put it outside)
I've used Google sketchup to get a rough model of what I'm considering:
Here's what I'm still debating:
- The correct inner spacing glass-to-glass. I've check Michael Bush's website on this and is 1 3/4'' (roughly 45mm) the correct measure or is that something else?
- The space should I leave around frames so that they won't propolize small openings or build burr comb in large ones.
- Figuring out how to make the plexiglass easy to remove/clean. Gluing the plexiglass on all sides to metal L frame and then using some pins to hold the frame in seems like a good idea
- Setting the hive inside or outside. I have a small shack I'm considering turning into a beehouse that I could house the hive in and make dark most of the time so I wouldn't need any covering on the hive. But for ease of manipulation I think I'd prefer to just set it outside on a table and cover it somehow.
- How to deal with ventilation/opening. Would a large hive-size opening at the bottom be enough for ventilation or would a top entrance definitely be best?
- Where to put a feeder and of what type. I'd probably be feeding honey if anything at all. I've considered just having the bottom of the hive have a ridge on both sides so that I could just dump a thin layer of honey all over the bottom and let the bees pick it up.
Any thoughts would be much appreciated