I have almost finished constructing an observation hive. It should be ready for Spring (around late August) when I hope to split one of our hives and get the observation hive going.
I am looking forward to watching the bees in our lounge room. From what I have read so far, we will learn a great deal more than working our normal hives.
It is a three deep frame hive. The entrance is a 1″ piece of PVC pipe and a gate value. A clear 1″ hose will connect it to the window plate.
Even with my limited woodworking skills, the hive looks quite smart. My wife is still a little unsure about having a hive inside the house. But she approves of the style of the hive.
The most important dimension to get right is the space between the glass. From Michael Bush’s book on beekeeping, 1.75″ to 1.875″ I settled for 46mm.
I made a bit of a mistake when measuring up the glass and ordered it 15mm too short. Hence, there is a 15mm bottom plate that looks out of place. This leaves 15mm gap (about 2 bee spaces) between the bottom of the hive and the first frame instead of the original 30mm design. If the bees don’t like this I am sure I can rework the bottom end.
2 90mmx45mm for sides
290mmx19mm board for the base
140mmx19mm board for the top
19mmx19mm pine for door frame
465mmx385mm laminated glass 6.5mm thick
1 small tin of varnish
1″ gate valve
1″ pipe and fittings
Total cost approx. $150
The most expensive materials was the glass at $110. The timber was inexpensive pine but could have been hardwood.
Most of the work involved is in cutting the sides. The front has a 19mm rebate for the front window door. A 7mm slot is cut along the length on the back for the rear glass. A table saw was used.
Slots for the frames to hang on were cut with a router.
Ventilation holes (1″ diameter) were cut into the side. The inside is blocked with fly wire. The holes can be plugged up from the outside if there is too much ventilation.
If there is condensation in the hive or chalk brood present then the hive is not ventilated enough. If the bees are having trouble raising brood, there is too much.
I still need to build a boardman feeder and a window plate. I may also add an extra piece of timber to the door frame for added strength.
I have been thinking of some cunning way to seal the hive and external hose easily for maintenance. But so far I think I will attach a nut/tail to the hose so it can been unscrewed from the hive.
Michael Bush suggests wrapping the hose joint with a cloth and carefully unscrewing it. I had a spare 1″ gate vale so I can seal the hive before unhooking the hose. I will only have to focus on plugging the detached hose so returning bees can’t get inside the house.
Building an observation hive is a great project for a beekeeper. It is not difficult and the rewards great.