How to Make Honey Bee Hives

Written by melissabielawski
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How to Make Honey Bee Hives
Building a beehive creates a safe living environment for your bees. (bee bees apises beehive hive insect image by Pali A from

Beekeeping can be a rewarding and productive hobby, but buying a premade beehive can often be a costly investment. A more economical approach to novice beekeeping is to build your own hive. Honey bees are typically housed in hives with removable frames that allow for the honeycomb to be easily collected. When constructing a beehive, it is important to follow a standard design in order to assure a healthy and stimulating living environment for your bees.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Untreated cedar or pine
  • Cement coated nails
  • Latex paint

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  1. 1

    Select an ideal location for the hive. According to Honey Bees and Beekeeping, bees can be kept close to any area where there are flowering plants nearby. The area should provide some shade and be relatively protected from the wind. Avoid low-lying areas where cold air may flow through.

  2. 2

    Choose the correct type of wood. Untreated pine or cedar is the best wood for a hive. Avoid using treated wood because it is poisonous to bees. All of the wood pieces should be flat, with minimal knots.

  3. 3

    Place the bottom board on concrete blocks to elevate it off the ground. Use a table saw to cut the bottom board to 22 inches by 16 1/4 inches. According to Go Beekeeping, this board supports the hive, so it must be very strong and extend 2 inches in front of the body of the hive to provide a landing area for the bees. Use 3/4-inch wood to allow easy entry for the bees.

  4. 4

    Build the body of the hive. Use a table saw to cut the sides and ends to the correct size. According to the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the standard measurements for the body are 20 inches for length, 16 1/2 inches for width and 9 1/2 inches for depth. Use a jigsaw to cut a 14 11/16-inch by 3/4-inch opening on the bottom to allow for bee entry. Use a circular saw to cut a notched rest for the frame on the top of each end piece of the box. The rest should be 3/8 inch wide by 3/4 inch deep. Nail the side and end pieces together to create a perfect square. Nail the side and end pieces to the floor of the bottom board.

  5. 5

    Cut cleats using a table saw. Use a 1 by 2 piece of wood and cut two pieces to 16 1/2 inches or to fit the length of the end pieces. Nail the cleats to the top edge of each end piece.

  6. 6

    Cut wood to make the frame. According to Go Beekeeping, the frame is used to hold the honeycomb inside the body of the hive, and it is composed of a top bar, bottom bar and two end bars. The standard size for the top and bottom bar is 1 1/8 inches wide and 19 inches across. The two end bars should be 6 1/4 inches. The frame will rest on the notched grooves on each end piece of the box. Insert a wax or plastic foundation into the frame.

    How to Make Honey Bee Hives
    The frame will hold the honeycomb inside the hive. (apicoltore image by lino beltrame from
  7. 7

    Use a table saw to create the cover. The cover should be made of 3/8-inch plywood, and it should hang 2 inches over the hive body in both width and length. Allow for some ventilation in the top cover to combat condensation build-up within the hive. Double coat the outside of the hive with a white latex paint.

    How to Make Honey Bee Hives
    Beehives (miel et abeilles image by Philippe LERIDON from

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear protective face gear when cutting and nailing wood.

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