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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    SLC, UT
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    23

    Default How to add Observation Windows

    Anyone have good plans that show how to add an observation window? I'm struggling with how to make it all work without affecting the internal dimensions of the hive with the glass or clips.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,864

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Just use a piece of thin plexiglas, I think you can get it 1/16" or 3/32" thick, cut out the size opening you want in the hive and make the glass about 1/2" longer in each direction than the cut hole, and just drill holes along the edge of the glass and screw it into the hive from the inside with pan head screws. Then make a hinged wood cover for the glass and attach that on the outside.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,127

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    The inside of a langstroth box can afford to lose 1/8" to 1/4". I wouldn't worry about that. It's easier to build the box with the window than to add a window in after. Be sure to drill generous pilot holes in the plexigalss so it doesn't crack when you screw the box together.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/LangDeepObservation.jpg
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,116

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    This is the Top Bar forum.

    When I put windows in my TBHs, I used a router to cut a recess in the inside of the the sidewall thick enough to allow the plexiglass to fit in. I wanted the fasteners to protrude as little as possible into the hive, so I drilled a series of holes thru the plastic and wood, and threaded nylon monofilament thru the holes in one long string.

    That worked, but small pan screws are reasonable alternative. Use screws that have the underside of the head as flat as possible to avoid cracking the plastic.


    I have not tried adhesives, but Liquid Nails offers an adhesive that claims to bond plexiglass and wood:
    http://www.liquidnails.com/products/...e-sealant-GC17
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Whitla Ab. Canada
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    416

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    This is the Top Bar forum.

    When I put windows in my TBHs, I used a router to cut a recess in the inside of the the sidewall thick enough to allow the plexiglass to fit in.
    .
    Ditto, except I scavenged a piece of glass from a camper and just used clear silicon in the recess to glue it in. This allowed me to put a dado around the outer hinged cover so it is recessed also with a 1/4" by 1" flange all around for weatherproofing.
    A Bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.- Robert Frost

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    I used glass instead of plexiglass on mine. Bought a large framed picture at the thrift store for next to nothing and had the glass shop cut it down for $5. Cut out the rectangle for the window. Ran than through a planer a few times so it exactly fit back into the observation window area, and hinged that to the hive. Then used a router to recess the glass from the inside. Got my "cuts" too deep on this first one so the bees can pass by the follower board on the glass edge. (won't make that mistake on the next ones) Used liquid nail to hold it securely. The gravity, due to the angle of the KTBH, also make it all work just fine. Might need something else if the sides are straight vs angled.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,127

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    >This is the Top Bar forum

    Sorry, I missed that. The principles aren't really different except you probably already have the box... I always make a cover for the window so it can be closed to keep out the light (and heat gain). An easy solution is if you cut a piece out, use that for the cover and hold it in with a toggle ( a small piece of wood with a screw in the center).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    I have one deep with glass windows in each end, can't see much. Planned to install windows in the sides, decided I could not see very much again. I recently built an Oxalic Acid applicator of 1x4 pine and closed the top with plexiglas to see how the process played out. That made me decide to get/make an electric vaporizer because I did not see much vapor from my "box and pipe" one. Long story short...I plan to make inner covers with plexiglas since that gives a fair view (better than the end view) into the hive with little disturbance of the bees. I can remove the top cover in cold weather to check sugar brick and sub usage and re-cover quickly without disturbing the bees or chilling them.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/77932428@N05/8546900682/

    The photo is shortly after a captured swarm was introduced into the box. Later I used a better cover and made removable covers for both windows, one on each end. Also later the bees quit crawling around so much on the end bars.
    Last edited by julysun; 01-14-2014 at 04:59 PM.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,291

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by stdavis View Post
    Anyone have good plans that show how to add an observation window? I'm struggling with how to make it all work without affecting the internal dimensions of the hive with the glass or clips.

    Thanks!
    We used plexiglass rounds...then cut Styrofoam to fit the round and put a swinging round of thin wood as an outer cover. Twist up the cover, pull out the Styrofoam and look in. Wish I had them on all boxes...we put 2 circles on the front of the box so can look down the frames.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland, IL, USA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    I created windows in my tbh's as such:

    Didn't have a router available. Had table saw, chop saw, biscuit jointer and know-how.

    In effect, I made storm windows or a cabinet door with a floating piece in the center for the sides of my hives - Two long pieces (top and bottom); 3 short pieces (sides and center stile). I cut a groove down the center of each long piece to hold the plexi and the stiles. I rabbeted the ends of the stiles to fit inside the groove. Cut grooves on side stiles where the glass was to recess into the wood. Put the glass in, each stile, glued and clamped - left til morning.

    In the morning, I had a solid 'window' set for my sides.

    Here's a view which might help:
    IMG_3953.jpg

    Using secondary board to create window 'covers' and then storm-window turnbuckles to hold the covers in place. Using pieces of duct tape and/or wide ribbon as window cover removers. Ribbon hasn't held up as well as duct tape!

    Only thing I've found I'll need to change next spring.....because the window covers were a 'real' board - the covers have swollen with winter rains. So they're warping and challenging to get out. I'll replace the solid board with a piece of plywood cut to fit in hopes that the cover won't be such an issue!

    Also, do NOT paint the rabbet the cover fits into. That's a lot of my problem with stuck window covers....the paint has swollen with the wood and now it's seriously stuck!

    By recessing the plexi into the frame, there is *just* enough space for a bee to squeeze herself around the follower board and get to the other 1/2 of the hive. Not so with drones - but worker girls can get around that boundary.

    I'm buying a router next!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. Still trying to decide, but now I know some options.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    I just did one in a nuc last night, waiting for the caulk to set-up so I can trim it and paint the outside. I cut the rough opening using a sliding miter saw, cleaned up the corners using a jig saw, then used a router for the rabbet. I cut the glass to length, cleaned it and the rabbet then used Safecoat (green -nontoxic) caulk to set the glass. I did a much better job on sizing the rabbet this time than last, just an eighth inch gap to the wood. Made a couple passes to get the rabbet depth correct so the glass sits nice and flush. For the cover I will just cut another board about three quarters of an inch larger than the cutout on all sides, hinge it on the bottom and put a half turn button or two on the top to close and open it easily. I'll try to add a picture later of the one I made last year.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    We used to route out holes on the hives we build and sell. Over the years, one of the most frequent requests was the ability to view the bees from one end to the other, regardless of which comb they were on. With a routed out hole, you generally can't see a few bars at each end, and inevitably the bees are clustered there when you want to see them. So we made the window the full length like this:

    top-bar-hive-window-open-1.jpg

    This is actually easier to make, as the only routing that's required is enough to inset the plexiglas or glas into the top and the bottom of that side.

    More pictures here: http://www.beethinking.com/products/top-bar-hive

    Best,
    Matt

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Thanks for the reply, Matt. I've been looking at your windows and want to model mine after yours. I've thought about purchasing your plans but it doesn't look like they are ready yet?

    Do you use plexiglass or regular glass? Also, do you bevel your cuts on the wood to make the window cover open and close easier?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Baltimore County, MD, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    On Tanzanian TBH, I use a full screened bottom with a hinged solid floor under it. Since the hive is on legs I can swing the floor away and look up into the hive through the screen. I build a frame for the floor so there is a gap between the solid floor and the screen to keep the screen from clogging up with debris.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    I used .220 plexiglass so it was too thick to simply screw to the inside of the hive. I don't have a router and I'm not much of a carpenter regardless of how much I have tried. I marked out the size of my window, drilled 1/2 inch holes in the corners and then used a jigsaw to cut out the holes (the same size of my plexiglass). I used a sander to clean it up a little and cut some "trim" to go around the inside of the cutout to make a lip (moved out about 1/4 inch from the inside) so the plexiglass would fit flush with the inside. I used some wood filler to smooth things out on the outside before some light sanding and paint. I attached the glass by drilling holes in the edges then used a slightly larger bit (in reverse) to create funnel shaped holes (counter sinks) so the screws would be flush with the window on the inside.

    Hope this helps some of the less skilled folks out there.



    Last edited by chkin11; 05-16-2014 at 09:09 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    964

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Plexiglass (or clear acrylic) is good stuff but it is tricky to drill. If you don't know the tricks it may shatter.

    If I were using a design that required screw holes in clear plastic, I'd use Lexan (or polycarbonate). It is more expensive but more forgiving to work, especially to drill.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Cleveland, Oklahoma, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Mine is same as Rader Sidetrack, rout a recess the thickness of the material (I used acrylic) so it fits flush inside. I used nontoxic epoxy to attach mine. Follower boards fit against it same as any other place in the hive.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chester, PA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How to add Observation Windows

    Like many others I create a recess on the inside so when I put in the sheet of glass it's flush to the inside. I however do not really have the proper tools though, so I wind up using my table saw of the long lines and finishing off the corners with my little Dremel multi-tool.

    I use real glass since it doesn't scratch up as much over time and provides a better moisture condensation point and attached it with the tiniest dabs of liquid nails in the corners, then let the bees propolis it the rest of the way in. They are pros at that work, I know they are using bee safe materials and after they are done it holds in place better than if I had done it.

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