Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Making of a Hive: Part 3 of 3

It feels like my insulated hive body is a project from the distant past (Part 2 of this series). My daughter must agree because when I started work on the roof yesterday, she exclaimed, "Finally!!!"

According to Lazutin, it's important that the top be warmer than the sides of the hive, so I wanted to build an insulated roof as well.  However, because of the insulation, I felt like this was going to become a heavy roof quite quickly, which meant that I needed to make it hinged as well.

I had trouble finding plans for what I wanted online. Dr. Sharashkin has posted plans for a hinged roof, but truly, his plans are beyond me. So I fell back on Plan B -- Wing It.

The reason I've put this project off so long is because I had to overcome the obstacle of making a vertical surface to which the roof could attach. As you can see, there is considerable negative space at the edge of the hive. I decided to fill up that gap with a bar that would fit inside the "missing wedge."

See? There is nowhere to attach the hinges.
Step 1: Make something for the roof to attach to.

I began by cutting a bar out of a 2x4 the length of the hive. There was a little leftover to make a practice piece as well. (Actually, I ended up cutting the practice piece in half to make 2 practice pieces. It was a good thing, too, because I completely screwed up the first one.)

Bar and practice piece
After figuring out the angle needed on one side of the bar, I tested it out on a practice piece. The first practice run was an utter failure. However, the second one worked beautifully! Huzzah!

I had to mark my practice piece so that I could remember which way to run the full bar.
Once the bar was painted and dried, I screwed it into the hive. By the way, using power tools on an occupied hive is not even close to one of my best ideas. The girls were M-A-D. I lost count of how many stingers my gloves took. One stinger even made it all the way through the leather into skin.

Positioning the bar so it can be screwed into place.
Step 2. Make the roof.

Basically, I was going for a box that could be filled with insulation. The ends of the box would also provide the structure for the gable. The sides of the roof would be shorter -- just high enough for the insulation. Here is a crude sketch.

Rough sketch of roof. 

I cut the sides to length first.

Sides of the roof.

Next, I cut two pieces that were the right width for the roof ends. Using a piece of wood the same "height" as the sides, I marked how high the sides would be in comparison to the roof. Then I found the midpoint of the board and drew straight lines to determine the gable cuts. As I read this explanation, I realize how utterly incomprehensible it is. Hopefully, the next two photos will provide a visual explanation.

Marking where the top of the side will sit against the end piece.
Lines for gables marked out.
End pieces all cut.

The next step was to assemble the ends and sides into a "box."

Four sides assembled
Although plywood would've been my first choice for the bottom of the box, I didn't have any. On the other hand, I did have lots and lots of roofing paper. I wasn't sure, though, how well the roofing paper would support the insulation, so I added a couple of supports to the bottom as well.

Added some supports to the bottom. 
Roofing paper stapled to the bottom of the roof.

The sides of my insulated hive have an insulation value of about R9 to R10, I think. So I wanted to make sure the roof was warmer than that. I found some recycled denim insulation on, but I had to buy it in bulk. The R30 was about $540 -- way out of my price range. However, they also sold a case of R6.7 -- 6 rolls for $36. Not free, but a lot better. I figured I'd just add two layers of insulation to double the warmth.

It has small children cuddling up to it. It must be safe. Right? ;-)

Yes, this hive is getting crazy expensive to build, but there's no turning back now. Plus, I needed only 2-3 rolls -- so there's enough leftover for another roof!!! While fiberglass is probably cheaper, I have memories of my sister breaking out in hives from it after a hurricane. Plus, the idea of recycling jeans has a certain appeal.
Roof full of insulation. A roll was a little longer than the length of the roof,
so I  scrunched up the insulation a bit to put a little extra padding over the cluster.
Another layer of roofing paper. I should have added some wood to staple the ends of the paper to, 
but I was getting tired and took the lazy way out.

Unfortunately, I painted before I remembered to add a couple extra roof supports roof. Better late than never.

A few supports to keep everything tied together.
I would've liked more overhang on the roof, but it is what it is. 

The roof is on
Added screw eyes to the ends of the roof. Another set will go on the hive body. Will tie rope to them to keep the roof from hyperextending.

Screw eye in bottom left corner

Step 3. Attach the roof.

A set of hinges attach the roof to the hive body. 

Had some small hinges in the garage, but wasn't sure they'd be strong enough.
However, these white hinges from my new local hardware shop are sturdy and complement Elsa perfectly.

Rope tied to screw eyes at the ends of the roof & hive prevent the hinges from hyperextending.

One string held the roof just fine, but my knot-tying skills are... not.
A second string gives me some cheap piece of mind.

Presenting HRH Queen Elsa!

Whew! I am soooo glad to be done! The entire duration of this project, The Beests were menacing me -- buzzing and head bumping. You can see how far away the hives are from the garage, but those monsters are unstoppable. While Elsa has gotten a new roof, The Beests have put the final nail in their coffin. My super nice next-door neighbor is allergic to stings (has an epi-pen and everything). I would never forgive myself if those hellions got to him. However, that's another thought for another day. Right now, I'm going to make myself a nice cuppa, put my feet up, and watch Blacklist. I've earned it.

Look how far away the hives are. The Beests are relentless!


  1. For winging it, I'd say you did a pretty nice job! That should keep them toasty this winter! It will be interesting to follow this hive in the spring.

    1. Thanks, Don! Yeah, the definite proof-in-the-pudding will be how they fare over winter. Overall, though, I think, that even without a roof, the more stable temps in this hive provided by the side insulation may have provided some benefit this summer. I noticed eggs from Elsa's queen July 12. Buttercup's new queen was laying by the 19th. Yes, I know Buttercup lost 2 bars as a result of a bear attack, but they started about the same time, and Elsa has at least 40%-50% more combs as well as stored honey. Coincidence? Or does Elsa just have better bees? I don't know. Might have to experiment some more with those leftover materials. :-)

  2. Great Job!! I'm in the process of building three more for this coming spring.

    1. Thanks! That's great that you've got more hives in the works. You can never have too many of them around. :-)


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