Copyright 2002 by Leonard G. Barton - rights released for noncommercial use.
Click Here for Part 1
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
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.
Measure the width of the template.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
As an experiment, this roof is covered with more poly, attached with 9/16 inch staples. No staples are used
on the upper surface.
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.
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.
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.