As a kid I always called them ‘bee boxes’ but the industry refers to them as a ‘hive body’ or ‘super’. I recently purchased some new hive bodies to assemble from a local supplier. Some of my equipment is old and wearing out. Before I sort through my dead hives each winter, I like to have some new boxes to switch out. This was a fun project I was able to do in my garage with my older children where they got lots of practice pounding in nails. Below are instructions of how I build hive bodies.
- Hand drill (two or three are helpful if building a large number of boxes so you don’t have to switch out the bits each step)
- Drill bit (same thickness as the nails)
- Countersink bit (needed if using screws)
- Phillips screw driver
- 2-3/8″ coated exterior nails
- 2″ coated exterior screws (the same that are used on wood decks)
First, gather the two wood ends and two long sides.
Second, assemble the four sides. Make sure the handles are all facing out and the two end top grooves are facing up. Some of the wood sides or ends might be warped slightly. Use a hammer or rubber mallet to get a tight fit.
Third, drill pilot holes in the top and bottom corner finger joints to prevent the wood from splitting.
Fourth, drill countersink in pilot hole if using screws. Screws will give the box a stronger hold, but will take longer to assemble. I put a screw in the top finger cutout and used nails in the rest of the assembly.
Fifth, put in the top four screws. I drill the screws in most of the way with the drill and then finish it with a hand screwdriver. This helps prevent the wood from splitting.
Sixth, complete the assembly with nails. I leave two finger grooves without nails. In future years if the hive body becomes loose, I can pound in additional nails to tighten the box up again.
Seventh, once the assembly is complete I like to drill a 1/2″ entrance hole into the front of the box. I also brand the front of the box with my last name. In my state beekeepers are required to mark each hive with their last name or beekeeping license number.
Finally, I like to paint my hives. As pictured below, I stacked them 5-6 boxes high and painted them all at once. I paint the handles with a brush and the flat surfaces with a roller. I first primed the boxes and then painted them with two coats of latex exterior paint. I use a light color semigloss paint. The paint will glue the stacked boxes together so it’s helpful to pry them apart and re-stack each box the following day.