More information: http://velacreations.com/bees.html
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/velacreations/sets/72157622528453587/
People keep bees in many different kinds of hives, but we will focus on a cheap and simple design, called the Honey Cow.
55 gallon plastic barrel, preferably food grade (makes two hives)
22 feet of 1”x2” nominal lumber
46 feet of 1½”x1” lumber
2 X 8 foot of 2”x4” nominal lumber
A 3 feet by 4 feet piece of tin
20 - 1½” wood screws
10 - 2” wood screws
8 - ½ “ screws
Bungee Cord or tie wire
45 feet thin moulding OR natural fiber string and beeswax
circular or jig saw
tape measure and marker
Cut the barrel in half lengthwise, making sure that there is a bung hole in each half.
Clean it well. You never know what was in it.* Choose a food-grade container to avoid potentially dangerous chemicals.
Lay the barrel down like a canoe, so that it would catch water. This is the position it will be in from now on.
On one end of the barrel (which used to be the top when it was whole) there is a rim of plastic that protrudes. Cut this away.
Rub the interior with beeswax. This will remove any foreign smell that remains and make it more attractive to a hive. A drop or two of lemongrass oil is good as well.
Measure the length and width of your barrel and cut the 1”x2” lumber to make a frame. For example, if your barrel is 36” by 24”, cut 2 lengths of 25” and 2 lengths of 37” (the extra inch allows you to screw one piece into the next).
Glue and screw the frame together.
Screw the barrel inside the frame.
Cut the 2"X4" boards into 40" pieces.* These boards are now the legs.
Screw the legs into each side of the barrel. Make sure you screw the frame to the leg and put several screws from the barrel into the leg for a good, sturdy fix.
The Top Bars
Cut 23 X 24” lengths out of the 1 ½”x1” lumber.
These are the bars to which the bees will attach their honeycomb. However, you need to provide a guide so that they make straight combs. There are several ways to do this, for example:
a) Screw a thin piece of moulding, 20” in length, centered on each top bar, with at least an inch on the ends of the top bar. This moulding will face down, into the barrel, when the bar sits on the frame. Rub some bee's wax on the molding.
b) Attach a piece of twine, coated in wax, also centered on the top bar, at least an inch from the ends of the top bar.
c) Carve a narrow groove into the top bar and fill it with molten bee's wax.* The groove should be about 1/4 of an inch wide, and you need to leave at least an inch on either end of the top bar.
Using the 1”x2” lumber, make a frame that fits around the barrel frame, with a ¼” gap on all sides.
If you cut 2 lengths of 25” and 2 lengths of 37” for the barrel frame, cut 2 lengths of 27 ½” and 2 lengths of 39 ½” for the roof frame.
Take the piece of tin and screw it to the frame, leaving equal space on all sides. *
Bend the extra bits of tin down and screw to the sides of the frame.
Using the tin snips, cut any extra bits hanging below the frame.
Put the roof on top of the barrel frame.
Wrap the bungee cord around the roof and barrel, attaching it to itself. This will prevent the roof from blowing off. Alternatively, you can use a few bits of tie wire to tie the roof securely to the hive.
Gold Star Honeybees is an excellent resource for top bar hive beekeepers. They offer kits, information, tools, and accessories for top bar hive beekeeping. They feature three levels of DIY hive kits for both novice and experienced beekeepers. You can find them on the web at http://www.goldstarhoneybees.com/
Gold Star Honeybees
PO Box 1061, Bath, ME 04530
http://www.velacreations.com/bees.html - author's website
http://biobees.com – natural beekeeping forum