Assembling your hive Yourself
We feel that having us assemble your hive for you will be some of the best money you'll ever spend. Please realize that when we assemble your hive, we use our years of experience and expertise to create for you the most durable and beautiful hive possible. Filling cracked knots, repairing grain pops and sanding the entire unit are all things that we do for you. We go the extra mile to make sure that you are 100% satisfied. If you feel that you have the knowledge, skills and tools to assemble your own hive; and if you want to assemble your own hive (which is the only real reason to do it since it doesn't save you much money); our hive kits are the best and most economical on the market. The draw-catch hardware that we use to secure the shutters on hives equipped with viewing windows require a significant amount of skill (and a good template) to install properly. Therefore, we do not offer hives with windows in kit form. Also, it's important to note that we do not dictate which fasteners you should use when assembling your hive, and therefore do not supply fasteners (except for the frame nails for modified hives). When we assemble a hive for you, we use Titebond III wood glue, in addition to pneumatic nailing and/or stapling. You can put your hive together as you see fit, and the following is simply a guide to help you achieve the finished product that you desire. Each hive that we ship not assembled does come with the floor assembled.
Assembling the hive bodies
Wood glue is important to keep your boxes square and strong. Without it, the boxes will remain neither, regardless of what type of mechanical fasteners you use. Titebond III wood glue is the strongest waterproof glue on the market and has a very low VOC content. Here, we're showing the preferred placement of the glue bead when assembling a hive body. It's better to use too much glue than not enough, as any excess glue can simply be wiped off with a damp cloth.
In addition to the glue,we pneumatically nail the hive bodies together when we assemble your hive for you. The Hitachi nail gun shown is a $550 unit. You can use whatever fasteners you wish, but please realize that nailing them by hand is very difficult, because it's nearly impossible to keep the parts aligned during the process. Pan head screws are probably the easiest method of fastening, though you'll need to pre-drill pilot holes with an electric drill/screwdriver before installing any screws . Line up the edges, press the joints tightly together and install three fasteners per corner. Locate the fasteners roughly one inch from the top and bottom, and then install one in the center, avoiding any knots.
After assembling each hive body, be sure to square them (using a framing square) immediately. This is a very important step that cannot be skipped. After squaring a box, carefully set it aside and allow the glue to cure.
Once the glue has cured and a hive body can be handled without any concern, measure 3 3/4" from the bottom and place two pencil marks on each side. These marks are where you'll place the bottom edge of each handle. We install the handles on the long sides when we assemble a hive for you, but you can put them on whichever sides you choose.
Place a thin bead of glue on the back of each handle and then fasten each handle to the hive body, with the 10-degree bevel toward the top. We use a pneumatic stapler with 18-gauge, 1 1/4" narrow crown staples for this.
If you are assembling boxes for the the basic Warré hive, the final step is to prepare and install the top bars in each body. A detailed video on how to do this can be found here.
If you're assembling a modified Warré hive, the next step is to install the metal frame rests with the supplied 1/2" wire nails. Using your thumb, simply press the frame rest firmly against the rebate edge. Then, use a brad driver to push five equally spaced nails right through the metal and into the wood to secure it. Do not use the pre-drilled holes in the rests.
The final step in assembling modified hive boxes is to assemble the frames. A detailed video on how to do this can be found here.
Assembling the roof
To assemble the roof, begin by applying a bead of glue to the rabbet joint of one of the gable ends. Fasten one side to this gable end, then the other side, then attach the other gable end. We use the same nail gun for this as we do when assembling the hive bodies, though only two fasteners are required at each corner, rather than three. Square the roof and continue to the next step.
Once you're sure that the roof is square, attach the 1/4" plywood, making sure that the gaps at each end are equal. These gaps are what allow air to circulate around the quilt box and up, mitigating any excessive moisture from the hive. Again, we use a pneumatic stapler for this procedure. This plywood will rest directly on the quilt box and support any and all load on the roof (snow, etc.), so be sure to fasten it well.
Center the first roof plank at align it's top edge with the edge of the flat at the center of each gable end.
Fasten the roof plank to each gable end at the top. We use 1 5/8" coated deck screws for this; one at each end. Pilot holes must be drilled before installing these screws. Be sure not to over tighten these top screws, as you can easily spit the edge of the plank. Tighten them until they are just flush with the surface. If you choose to secure the roof planks with pan head screws, you'll want to install them just below the flat area so that they'll not interfere with the ridge board, which you'll be installing next.
Once each roof plank is fastened at the top, use a speed square to make four reference points, 2 1/4 inches from the bottom of the each plank and aligned with the center of each screw at the top.
Holding the drill at a 20-degree angle (perpendicular to the roof planks), drill a pilot hole at each reference point you just marked and then install four screws to completely secure the roof planks.
Apply a thin bead of glue down the center of the flat at the top of each roof plank, in preparation for the installation of the ridge board.
Install the ridge board and fasten it to the roof planks, keeping the mechanical fasteners inside the gable ends of the roof assembly. Again, we use a pneumatic stapler for this.
Assembling the quilt box
To assemble the quilt box, use the same assembly techniques that you used to assemble the hive bodies, though only two fasteners are required at each corner, rather than three. When the glue is completely cured, place the canvas centered over the part and secure one side in place with several staples. We use a pneumatic stapler for this, but a standard mechanical staple gun that uses T50 staples will work fine. Once one side is secured, pull the canvas fairly snug and fasten the opposite side to the part. Then, fasten the two remaining sides in the same manner. You want the final result to be a canvas that is tight, like the head of a drum.
Next, fasten the edges of the of the canvas to the sides of the quilt box.
Lastly, fold the canvas that hangs out from each corner into a triangular shape, and then over. Once these corners are secured with staples, you're all done. Congratulations!
After a little sanding your hive will be beautiful and ready for bees!
You can also choose to finish your hive with Tung oil. This step is not necessary, but it will keep your hive looking newer, longer.
The natural, unprotected cedar will last for years in the elements, but it's color will turn gray over time.