I'm all over building insulated hives these days since Elsa, my original insulated hive, has been doing so brilliantly. Because Persephone's bees absconded this past winter, an opportunity for retrofitting her with insulated walls & roof presented itself.
Honestly, I found the process of retrofitting her much easier than the process I used to build Elsa. There were two big obstacles in putting Elsa together.
- I built the walls -- in all their crazy, heavy, insulated glory - first. Trying to attach these monster walls to the hive ends was a Herculean task. It took all my strength and skill to keep them in place long enough to screw in the boards.
- It was a puzzle figuring out how to get the bottom of the hive in place.
By comparison, adding insulation to Persephone was a breeze. Putting a basic TBH together is a snap, and that was already done. To retrofit her, I only had to build onto her already existing frame.
Step 1: Make frame to hold insulation.
Step 2: Add insulation.
One thing I did differently this time around was using 3/4" thick insulation board with and R-4 rating. Last time I used 1 1/2" thick R-7.5 insulation board. The thinner board is a bit less warm, but it allowed me to use scrap wood to build the frame from Step 1. Also, the finished wall will still have a rating of R-7-ish, which is way warmer than 2" thick wood.
Step 3: Attach exterior wall.
Step 4: Insulate roof.
I actually prefer how I made Elsa's roof, but I didn't want to start all over with this one. I was also trying to use what I had on hand, so I first lined it with some scraps of roofing felt.
Insulation got added next, and another layer of roofing felt went over it all. I don't know what happened to the rest of my photos of this process, but it's similar to Elsa's roof.
Step 5: Attach roof to hive with hinges.
I would have liked to use the some process that I used before, but I didn't have the right pieces of wood. I ended up cobbling together something instead. Scrap pieces of wood extend the ends. A bar runs between them. Another chunk of wood in the center of the bar provides extra attachment. Not pretty, but functional and surprisingly sturdy.
In the future, I'll probably attach a horizontal piece on the ends near the top. Then I can attach an apron like I did for the retrofit along the sides. This will save me from having to figure out too many angles. Ok, this description is rubbish, so an only slightly less rubbish sketch is below to illustrate.
Step 7: Replace shingles
This actually was not part of my original plan, but I noticed that the crummy cedar shingles had separated, and there were huge gaps in the roof near the bottom edge. Though I've never seen water on the bars, I didn't want that to become a future issue. Some more overhang all around the edges (and thinner plywood) would have been preferable, but again... using what I had.
Step 8: Add finishing touches.
I added some rope to keep the hinges from overextending. Some copper keeps rain from penetrating that seam in the roof.
Well, she's not the prettiest thing on four legs, but she's ready for bees!