Posts Tagged ‘upcycled wood for a topbar hive’

We were very successful in building a couple of new hives without spending any money on timber. The hives cost us the grand total of £4 each for the glass viewing panes – a great result.

Even our building site did not have sufficient timber of the right quality to build a decent hive that would last outdoors in the weather. Luckily our children were redecorating the boy’s bedroom. This included a new bunk bed which meant that the wooden bed we built them 8 years ago was no longer needed and it was made of really good timber and a perfect opportunity to upcycle it into the new hives.

This went better than either of us expected and making more than one at a time saved a lot of time and effort.

All four sides were made from the two bunkbed mattress slats.  They were glued together to create larger sheets and then cut to size.  A great plan for a topbar hive can be found at Biobees.com; this is Phil Chandlers website and he has great advice and help for topbar beekeepers.


Unlike our first hive ‘Poppy’, these ones were made with a full width viewing window because the one thing we really miss on that hive is being able to see all along the entire hive. 

The inside view with the glass still to be fitted, but with the inspection door installed.  The mesh bottom of this hive is also different from Poppy, because we had trouble finding a decent small mess without spending a fortune.  In this case, we used the plastic tapestry or cross-stitch fabric which I had in my sewing room.  A few joined together and cut to size is perfect….

A view of one of the topbars.  These have a small rebate at each end to prevent the topbar slipping off either end of the hive.  In addition, we are testing out a way to create a bee-highway.  The only thing on hand were these cable clips which were nailed to the centre of the topbars and this will hopefully be left open by the bees to give them a quick way to travel between combs without having to go all the way down or round; we will see how/if it works…..

Each topbar was going to have a piece of tongue cut off a tongue & groove board to create a guide for the combs.  Instead we changed this by using string dipped in wax and stapled to the combs – another test…..

Here are all the exterior parts of the hive being painted with a marine varnish to hopefully give us the longest wearing hive we can.  The legs were cut from the 4 main bunkbed legs and were a great size for a very secure hive stand…..

Our favourite part of the hives?  The stickers and writing.  Over eight year our two grandsons had done a fine job of ‘decorating and personalising’ their bunkbed with stickers of all sorts and quite a bit of writing – names too!  We varnished over all of this to retain them and to add character to this hive…..

Three holes drilled into the side for the bee entrances – and a beautiful early picture by Ethan – I hope the bees appreciate the artistic workmanship…..

A view inside the hive with the inspection door open and the retaining chain in view – this will prevent the door opening too much and snapping off the hinges…..

Legs all varnished and ready for assembly.  This hive certainly has character…..

This new hive has been named ‘Ethan’, in honour of grandson number 2 who autographed it when he started school last year.  We used this piece of timber especially at the hive entrance for a landing board so that the bees knew the name of their new home 🙂

All the topbars ready for installation – here you can see the string with wax which we pressed to the surface of the topbars and stapled at the ends…..

Installing the glass viewing pane….

A quick feeder in case the weather turns on us again this year.  It may not be pretty, but it does the job admirably until I sort out my new idea for an external feeder…..

And here is Ethan ready for the great outdoors – and some bees!

One of the brass catches holds the inspection door closed and the other will latch the roof of the beehive securely against high winds…..

Here is Ethan set up and waiting for his new occupants.  Poppy has been left in the corner with her entrance facing the garden fence, and Ethan has its entrance facing the opposite direction (the grey on the sides are insulation sheets which we will take off as soon as the temperature gets above about 12 degrees…..

Lid installed with hinges and a safety chain.  All the topbars in place as well…..

It’s all done for Ethan and we have just the varnishing and window to install on ‘Travis’ – hive number 3.  Now all we need is more bees please…..


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