Monday, January 10, 2011

Hive Bodies: DIY

After my crotchety old man rant the other day, it seems only fair that I do my part in guiding those people who were foolish enough to take me seriously and assemble their own hive equipment. The winter is the best time to do assembly work, since the bees just want to be left alone and, you know, it's cold out. Really cold out.

So. . . I had a bee brunch! I invited my beekeeping apprentice, Emily, over for some bacon and buckwheat blini (crème fraiche and caviar! [don't be jealous (OK be jealous)]) and some hive assembly! Hoo-ray! Hive assembly!

We're going to start with the simple stuff and move onward and upward from there, and hive bodies of all sizes are the easiest components to assemble. They can really only go together one way, and if you have quality equipment, they really want to come out straight and square. However, there are always some small variations in the lumber, be it a slight bowing of the wood or millimeter differences in the width or depth of box joints. These variations rarely turn out to be a big deal, but to someone who has never knocked a super together, it can seem pretty daunting. Luckily, I have a method that works every time (60% of the time.)

Totally, like, angular, dude!
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First, you want to mock up the hive body, just to make sure that everything fits right, that you have all the right pieces, and that you have them oriented correctly. Most manufacturers build their boxes in such a way that it is impossible to put any side upside-down, but it never hurts to make sure. Personally, I try to match sides that have similar grain/texture, but I'm neurotic like that.

Dab it.
Dab it good.
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Second, you put a dab of glue on each contact face of the box joints. You really don't need to use very much, especially if you're using one of the newer glues. I've been using Elmer's Ultimate and have found that it both foams and expands as it dries, so just a dot of it will spread and expand to fill any cracks.

Third, you want to slowly push the joint together and try not to squish the glue out. You want the glue to stay in the seams of the joints, not on the outside of your hive. This is where it's nice to have a helper. While one of you presses a corner together as tightly as possible, the other can put two nails in, one in each direction. Here's what I mean:

Halt.  Hammerzeit.
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This is when things start to get funky. Once you've gotten the first corner nailed tight, you may notice that the opposite corner is bowed out, loose, or mismatched.

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Don't panic. Instead, press the bowed edges together as tightly as possible and keep the pressure on as you nail it. The wood will be flexible enough to take the strain, although it may be pretty hard to hold it in place. Emily informed me that that girls can use hammers, so I held the edges flush while she pounded in another two nails and Voila! The first joint was together.

Girls can hammer just fine!
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From there, you keep on switching sides until you have a nice square box with two nails in every corner holding it tight. Then you just need to finish nailing each side and you should be left with a fancy new hive body.

So pretty!
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1 comment:

  1. Hungarian beekeepers draw for build: