Designing a beehive - help requested with dimensions- Inches or mm's?

I am (ever so slowly) learning how to use SketchUp- I am designing a horizontal langstroth hive that is especially adapted to use flow frames. I call it ‘The Honey Barn’

Although I am in Australia where we are blessed with metric measurements- I decided to use (the hated) imperial measurements as I designed my hive as only imperial seemed to offer exact standard measurements for langstroth parts. Did I do wrong going imperial? It sure is a pain: who in their right mind works with fractions like 6’ 63/64??? Blessed be the mm. It seems though that even here when you buy langstroth hive boxes they conform more to imperial standards than metric ones? My design allows additional supers to go on top- I am hoping I can use off the shelf boxes if required…

I also designed my box walls to all be 3/4 inch thick. I am wondering if I will have any issues in sourcing timber in exact imperial measurements? Also is that a good thickness for hive boxes? What’s the standard? I was hoping to be a bit over-spec - designing a well insulated hive.

I am a luddite when it comes to woodworking- bee hives- etc.


I commend you trying to work with our U.S. Measurements when your board will be (?) different. Actually even here I use a micrometer to check our board. Often 3/4" is not 3/4" so I have to adjust width n length by the slight difference in thichness.

I often build my own boxes n supers. I buy frames because too many steps to do.

Good luck n enjoy the journey,

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I would highly recommend that you use local measurements, and find out from your hardware and lumber stores what thicknesses their wood comes in. If you need to ask for a custom milling of planks of lumber to fit your design, the cost may become prohibitive.

Make sure you understand what their answer is too. For example, our 1" x 6" planks are not that size at all. They are usually 7/8" thick, but can be less than that. Deeply understanding the dimensions of the wood available to you locally will save you from wasting a lot of effort working with incorrect assumptions… :wink:

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To be honest- I am afraid I have gone so far with my plan in imperial- that I don’t think I can go back now. As for the lumber- I am hoping I can get planks exactly 3/4 inches- and if I have to get it custom cut- cost be damned- this is going to be a bespoke beehive. I will make the plan open source once I am done- hopefully the imperial measurements will make it more universally applicable? I think I am am the right path as far as langstroth compatibility goes- here is a list of dimensions of standard langstroth boxes in Australia from a supplier:

Sizes. For supers, the sizes are :
Full Depth - A depth of 9 1/2 inches (241.3 mm)
Manley - 6 5/8 inches (168.3 mm)
WSP - 7 1/2 inches (190.5 mm)
Ideal - 5 3/4 inches (146.1 mm)
Half Depth - 4 7/8 inches ( 124 mm )
The frame depth is usually 5/16 - 3/8 inch (7.9 - 9.5 mm) less than the depth of the super.

the mm dimensions are just too messy to work with- whilst the imperial measurements are nice rounded figures?

When I build my long Lang, I put my two supers next to one another and build the hive to those dimensions. I used 1x12s for the body of the hive. For the most part I followed plans.


I think from my recent dabbles in making some boxes & frames myself you would be better sticking with our metric system, especially when it comes to width’s and depth’s of pieces you are purchasing, I found some really helpful local timber yards (& a carpenter uncle) most people seem happy to give help when it comes to making things. I tend to round off the .3mm etc its not going to make a difference. This page ref helped me to work out where i could ‘round’ off measures.

Would love to see your finished product (plans and eventually hive). It sounds like quite an undertaking. We love our horizontal langstroth hive for the ease of working it.

It sure is an undertaking- I have become obsessed- SketchUp is amazing for this kind of job- I keep coming up with more and more little details for the hive. I am so proud of my design now- I am thinking of making some of them commercially. I hope to have the first hive prototype built in a month or two.

Apologies to everyone who replied to my inititial question: inches or mm’s. !00% of responders voted mm’s: yet I stuck to imperial! It seems that’s what i wanted to do all along. I am glad I did though as I developed an entire hive system that all works around a 3/4 inch basic measurement. It shouldn’t be (much of) an issue to convert it to metric once I am done.

If anyone is reading this thread I could do with some assistance ironing out wrinkles in the design before I cut any wood:

  1. I went with standard langstroth measurements: looking at my model I see I have around 3/4 inch of bee space below the bottom of the frames to the screened bottom. Is this wrong? Too big? What is this distance in the flow hive? In my plan the box sits on 3/4 inch ‘poles’ that secure the screen mesh to the base. I can’t remember how this was arranged in the flow hive baseboard?

  2. does anyone know where I can source WBC bee escape cones in metal? This is what i mean:

Sorry it’s so late. That bee space sounds correct, not sure about the cones.