Over the (Australian) winter, I have been building a top bar hive, made completely out of pallet wood, and using hand tools only.
Pallet wood. I’ll spare you the process of breaking pallets down to wood. Suffice to say it took equal measures of hammering, levering and swearing.
The Crescent nail puller - this tool is a beast! This thing can rip 4 inch spiral nails out of wood, tail first if necessary.
The nails from a single pallet.
The boards are still horrible. I used only HT (heat-treated) wood that came from a brick/tile manufacturer, so I am sure there is no methyl bromide or other chemicals. Important, since we will be eating the honey produced from this hive.
The board edges have to be dead straight to glue together. I use a Veritas jack plane to joint them.
Once the boards have perfectly straight edges, they can be glued up into panels.
Molly with our Australian bush in background.
Marking out the ends. These were hand-sawn and trimmed on a shooting board.
A day later, glue dry, I hand planed them with he same jack plane to get down to nice smooth wood. Starting to look OK.
Using a hand router to cut a recessed window on one side.
Once the panels are cut to size, they are glued and screwed together. Even the screw holes were hand drilled using these French gimlets.
Here is how the body of the hive looks, with a single top bar across the top.
Using a 100 year-old Preston spokeshave to neaten up a curved edge for the stand.
Body and stand. Window can be seen at the back panel. Top holes are for extra ventilation in summer. Bottom holes are entrances for the bees.
I had to cut 48 top bars (some for this hive, and some for a swarm trap), also using pallet wood. This is my bowsaw, tensioned by twisting the string at the top. The first few bars were fun, the other 45 were tedious. Rough cut, then jointed using plane.
This is how the top bars fit across the body. The top bars have to be dead-straight so they fit together without gaps for the bees to get through.
Each top bar has a strip of wood glued on to guide the bees to build straight honeycomb along each bar.
Internal view: looking through the window into the hive from below to see the top bars.
Added a roof over the whole lot to protect the top bars from the elements. Primer coat of paint.
Added a traditional Hungarian design. I’m no artist - I printed out on paper and cut out a template.
The back of the hive with a fold-down flap that covers a clear acrylic window, to see how the bees are progressing.
The whole shebang put out onto the farm. Next step - adding bees.