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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


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.


MATERIALS:
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

TOOLS
circular or jig saw
drill
tin snips
tape measure and marker

The Barrel
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.

The Frame

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.
or
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.
or
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.


The Roof

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.

RESOURCES

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
207-449-1121
http://www.goldstarhoneybees.com/

http://www.velacreations.com/bees.html - author's website

http://biobees.com – natural beekeeping forum
 

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Very ineresting! So what was the total cost to make it? It looks like you had to purchase the lumber and the flashing tin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I had most of the lumber laying around. The flashing tin was left over from another project. If you had to buy all the lumber and tin, I think you could easily do it for under $30.

I really only have time and odds and ends in this one, maybe $5. The nice thing is that you don't need any special tools, and you could make it work with stuff lying around your place.
 

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In your picture you had cut a hole in the bottom. Is that for ventilation and are you attaching hardware cloth to work like a screened bottom board?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
both, actually. I have it there for a bit of ventillation, but it's also screened to let things fall through. I am not sure it is necessary, though.
 

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I would think where ur at it get pretty darn hot and the extra ventilation does not hurt. I have wanted to do a top bar hive but every one keeps telling me it gets to hot in Texas for it. Guess your proving them wrong.
Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
yes, we do get hot. In Terlingua, it can get 120 in the shade....

Top bar hives are the hives of choice for Africa, don't forget. They do really well in hot weather.

Just give them some ventilation, and you'll be fine.
 

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Cool hive.
I would think where ur at it get pretty darn hot and the extra ventilation does not hurt....
Jason
Actually the bees cool the hive by evaporating water. Circulating too much 120º air through the hive is a problem. The same problem might arise with the thin walls of the barrel (is it insulating enough from the outside heat?) It's a little easier for bees to keep brood warm in cold weather than to cool the hive in hot weather. I'd make sure the bees have plenty access to water and, maybe, even stick a thermometer in the hive to compare the temp difference between open bottom vent vs. closed.
 

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Velacreations,
How did your bees do in your honey cow with last years drought we had? I have not become brave enough to try it out but there is always next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I lost all of my bees last year, both in the honey cow and in my Langs. The drought was too much for everyone.

Commercial hives in my region lost 80% of their hives. The industry has taken a huge hit around here.

Velacreations,
How did your bees do in your honey cow with last years drought we had? I have not become brave enough to try it out but there is always next year.
 
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