Copyright 2002 by Leonard G. Barton - rights released for noncommercial use.


Click Here for Part 1

Part Two.

The Sliding Bottom Ledger

To hold the sliding bottom we need to add a ledger to the outer side extensions that hang below the bottom. This ledger also serves as a vent. Cut strips of courrugated polyethethlyne about 1/2 inch wide across the grain of the corrugations.


Using 9/16 staples and a backing block of end grain, staple the strips at the bottom edge on the inside face of the side extensions. As the staples are inserted, pull the block away and clinch the staple ends with a light hammer, backing the edge with a block of wood.



The Sliding Bottom

You will need to use the bottom only part of the year. One of my correspondents reported that in his hives (located in Denmark) that best results were obtained by keeping the bottom open fo maximum ventilation during the cold, damp season and using the bottom during the early spring (when early brood is being raised). Cut strip of poly that is an inch or two longer than the hive and slightly wider than the inside width of the extended side at the upper edge of the ledger (this can be pieced together from smaller material using clinched staples).


The bottom should be wide enough to force the side extensions outward a small amount, but not so wide that it is lifted off of the ledgers. The bottom may now be inserted.


Note that the sliding bottom fits loosly against the ledger on the side extensions and the corrugations are oriented so that there is a ventilation on each side.


Filling a Gap

If there is a space between the front face and the bottom board you must add shims to fill the gap. Shims may be added at the front edge of the bottom (the bottom must then be pulled from the front) or at the bottom of the front face. This is so that bees cannot enter the space between the bottom and the mite screen. If there is an gap here some of the returning bees will enter and become lost and confused.

The Hanging Grid

This gives extra bees a place to "hang out". It also restricts the vertical depth of the comb - comb built too deep can tear when handled or if the hive is overheated. If the hanging grid was made continuously it would be difficult to remove without removing many bars so it is cut into shorter sections.

The material is styrene lighting diffuser grid. The grid material is thinner on one side (placed downward) when used as a light diffuser. We use it turned over so that the small surface is upward to give the mites an even smaller landing place.


Determine the exact width by cutting a cardboard template so that it spans the interior about 3 inches above the bottom screen. [Grid_Template_Adjust]

Measure the width of the template. [Grid_Template_Measure]

Set up the saw to cut at the side angle (here it is 22.5 degrees) and cut the material. The grid material should be cut so that no part of the longitudinal grid elements touch the sides - there must be a free fall for any mites tumbling down the sides. [Grid_Raw_Cut]

Trial fit the first piece.


The bees may cement this in place with propalis where it contacts the sides and each point of contact is a place that might stop a tumbling mite. Only a few contact points are needed to locate the grid, so Reduce the number of protrusions by scoring with a knife and snapping them off. (My bees propalized wooden bars in a wooden hive but have not yet done this with the plastic bars and hive.) [Grid_Final]

The Movable End Wall

This does not have to reach all the way to the bottom as it serves only to trap heat in the upper part of the hive. It should extend almost to the hanging frame. If additional bees from a swarm or package are to be introduced you can place a newspaper over the hanging grids behind the partition. A few short slits cut with a razor will allow the bees to start chewing this open. By the time that the bees can move through the opened space they will have taken on the common oder of the hive and will not be percieved as invaders.

Cut two pieces of material as shown and prepare a bar 24 inches long, 2 inches wide and about 1/2 inch thick.


Staple these together, but not at the very top. Crease and fold the top parts in opposite directions. Cut one of the folds down to one corrugation. Use this cut line to align to one edge of the bar. Staple these folds to the bar. This short space goes toward the front of the hive.




The bar was thined down after these pictures were taken. Only a thin lath is needed.

Fanning Area Face

Cut a piece of corrugated polyethylene or other durable material to fit over the fanning rim. Leave about 1/2 inch of space over the porch for air circulation and bee movement. Staple this to the rim, but use few staples so this can be pulled away for access if required.


Backside Face

An external poly panel is stapled to the end. This protects the wood from damp and rain while allowing free air circulation and moisture to leave the wood. Trim to match the wood panel


Shoulder Rain Guards

Cut four pieces of poly 12 inches wide by 4 inches high with the grain running parallel to the short side. Fold each piece 90 degrees along the corrugations 4 inches from one edge. Staple these to the leg and adjacent face, trimming where required on the front face. This will keep rain from the join between the leg and the face. [Shoulder_Rain_Guard]

The Roof

A number of different roofs can be bult for this. Your choice will depend upon available salvage or purchaced materials. A low cost, light, and durable roof may be built from thin arched plywood or pressboard over curved gable ends, covered with strips of the aluminum sheet used for rolling rain gutters. Another method is to use a simple shed roof with plywood or fiberboard panels, covered with a waterproof skin. if fiberboard is used you must pay very careful attention to maintaining proper drip edges so that it will stay absolutly dry.

For either type of roof a piece of 1 by 3 wood about 5 ft long serves as the ridge. Set this into the end wall notches. This should extend more on the entrance end so that the landing porch is sheltered from rain and dew. Mark the positions of the end wall and cut shallow locator notches in the ridge so that the ridge is located but that the bottom of the ridge remains clear of the comb bars.


For this pitched roof the gable ends are made from the same stock, with angled half laps forming the roof pitch. This assembly is glued and affixed with screws to the ends of the ridge. Alternatively these could be cut from wider stock, eliminating the half lap joints.


Two edge pieces are ripped from the same stock used the ridge and are glued and screwed. The outer edge of the edge is 14 inches from the centerline, measured along the slope of the roof. [Roof_Frame_Corner]

As an experiment, this roof is covered with more poly, attached with 9/16 inch staples. No staples are used on the upper surface.


Comb Colapse!

Upon the first exposure to hot (95 degree farenheit) weather, two heavy honey and two brood comb fell. These contained about two quarts of honey. The roof is now insulated with reflective foil on the underside (shiny side down). The hive has now withstood 105 degree weather. This foil should also help keep the hive warm in winter as it will reflect interior heat back into the hive.


I also added two solar powered fans designed for cooling electronic equipment enclosures. These are probably not required to prevent overheating but do assist the bees in drying the nectar into honey.


Because of the overhangs the roof can catch the wind if the hive is not in a sheltered area. While you could simply place weights on the roof, you could also add latches or bungees at the gables or strap bungies across to hooks in the legs. Some additional blocking may be added to keep the roof from rocking in the wind (bees hate thumping and can become very defensive during the day if they are disturbed at night.

Bar Design

Click Here for bar fabrication instructions. If you do not feel comfortable using power tools there are alternative methods available. Be sure to leave free space at the end of the hive - if wood bars are packed tightly they can swell under humid conditions and damage the hive (wood swells more readilly across the grain).


Exposed staples may be caulked so that they do not wick water into the wood.

Caulk the corner between the roof overhang and the gable so that any water running down drips off here, rather than dripping into the hive.


Only the porch needs to be painted. If you did not use a weather resistant wood for the legs then they should also be painted. You may paint more for appearance, but the hull wood covered with poly panels should not be painted so that it does not trap moisture.

The interior of the roof may be painted with heat reflecting paint - it can be hard to find but it is very effective. If materials other than pigmented white poly are used the exterior of the roof should be painted a bright white. [Hive_Hull]


Click Here for Part 1

For detailed pictures on working the hive Click Here.

For information on the latest version (CalKenyan 5) Click Here.

There is enough information in that page for an experienced builder to construct the latest version.