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My new 5 frame complete hives- and observation hive- hot wax dipped and full of bees

So I have spent the better part of winter and the start of spring making beehives. I have finally finished my new 5 frame nuc hives- and also made a few 5 frame observation (ulster type) single frame boxes. I made these as complete hives- with screened bottoms, inner covers, upper and lower entrances with a range of reducers: the works! I made my own special shallow fry wax dipper with electric elements - and dipped them in beeswax and pine gum rosin at 140c for 10 minutes. It was a lot of work- but now I have many more hives to dip and I think it’s easier than painting now I am set up.
Here are the first few in my new apiray:

the above hive has a small split in it- when they fill out the first box I will add another- when they have drawn out ten frames I will transfer the colony directly into one of my new horizontal hives (still to be assembled). I have read that bees tend to draw out comb faster and a straighter when confined in 5 frame nucs- it makes sense - more frames up against walls might make for straighter combs…

This one has a medium sized swarm in it- in just a week they have cleaned up two old plastic foundation stickies- rebuilt hem and started laying in nectar. They haven’t started on the top observation frame yet- it will be exciting to watch them build it out when they do.
I plan to use 5 frame hives as back up colonies- for comb and queen production- and even to run some as complete hives with multiple boxes. I finished them just in time to put swarms and splits into them. So far the bees seem very happy.

The last hold-up in my production is those little conical springs that go in the window toggles. It’s very hard to find them- and to get them made I have been quoted $1.25 per piece! I need several hundred of them. If anyone knows of a source for little springs like that: let me know!


These look absolutely amazing! who is laser cutting for you? (assuming they are laser cut)

Quality of finish is very impressive!


Very nice i would like to build a wax bath

tell me where I can find those little conical springs… and I’ll tell you who did the laser cutting for me :wink:

It was a lot of back and forth- testing for tolerances of the box joints and calibrating the laser. Originally I had planned to do a woodworking course where you could make your own projects using the schools equipment- I spent ages making my designs and then went to book my classes- and the school announced it was closing after 4o years or so… I then looked into CNC routers, water cutting and traditional methods- before settling on laser.


when I have time- I will post a little thread about the wax dipper I made. It’s ‘shallow fry’ so you do one side of a box a time (though I can have two in there)- takes more time than most large dippers commercial apiarists use but you need a lot less wax. This enabled to me to go natural and use only bees wax and rosin. There is no glue used in the hives either.


Beautiful, love the detail. All your time has definitely paid off.


If it was cut on a trotec I could probably narrow it down :smiley:

Very impressed with what you’ve accomplished, I have been moving in similar circles (cnc, water cutting, laser etc.), I might drop you a pm about what you’ve discovered specifically with tolerances and the timbers used. Are you CADing the designs yourself?

Will need to find someone who does the springs!

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I can cut them on a router table but you will need to either radius the external corners or chisel the internals as with a router to cut through 20mm pine you would need a 6mm cutter .

I saw a video on YouTube which I can’t find now where a chap cut box joints with a Cnc router. The inner corners of the joints were rounded but when the joints were connected the void created by the rounded corners was negligible. If you used glue it would actually be a good place to put it. He did it by cutting the profile of the router bit (6mm) into each corner just until the material in the corner was gone (if that makes sense). The matching ‘male’ joint was squared as normal. On the female joint there are two little crescent moon voids on each corner- only a few mm long and wide. Otherwise the joints were extremely tight and accurate like only cnc can do. The bees would propolise them tight in a minute if they were worried about it.

The other good thing about cnc is you can do the rebates and hand holds all in one process.

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Ill put some pictures up when i make one

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Hi Jack, what a beautiful job you have done there. Congratulations are well & truly in order. Good luck with your bees, cheers!!!


my 5 frame hive system has expanded as the colony grew- now I’m up to four stories… I just added my new 3 frame modified Flow Super to the system- I did that in a hurry as the colony seems like it may be thinking of swarming. Big beards most days this week- but very hot here in Adelaide: 40+c for the last 3 days.

Here’s my deluxe 3 frame flow super: it has large windows on both sides and a large viewing area at the rear of the frames. It’s narrower than a regular 5 frame Nuc box so it has strips on the side so it stacks properly- and the roof can go directly onto it:

And here is my ‘totem’ hive- with flow super installed on level 3- and single frame observation box on the top floor. I imagine inside it closely replicates a tree hollow! How many ten frame wide tree hollows can there be?:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I installed the 3 frame Flow box yesterday- and within only 2 hours the bees had already started to fill many of the little cracks in the flow cells with wax- this is compared to another flow hive I have where the bees waited nearly 3 months before they closed a single gap- the flow is finally on here- and I am thinking they will fill them with honey very fast! Touch Wood. The single standard observation frame above is 100% fully capped honey- I will harvest it in the next few days and add another to give them more room and more to do- despite the giant beard out the front inside the windows the hive is teeming with bees:


Very cool system, time for mass production!

a little more field testing with bees- and a few refinements that have cropped up- and I hope to make another batch of these later this year. But these hives are really a side project compared to my super deluxe- yet to be assembled and unveiled- ‘longstroth’ beespoke hives…

The hive above is not really meant to have an observation box on top- this design would normally consist of the two 5 frame brood boxes and the one flow box with the roof on that. I plan to sell some of the observation hives I have made- and they are to be used with a single nuc box and the observation frame on top. But I do kind of like the full observation hive I have now- it is so good to be able to look into every box and see what the bees are up to at every level. I can watch the queen laying eggs when she chances past one of my windows- and get a good long look at her- unlike the hurry and disturbance of a full inspection.


Jack if you ever decided to sell this one or make another can I please please please buy it with sugar on top? :heart_eyes:

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Hello there Olivia,

I actually have made more of these- they are not yet assembled. However I only made the one 3 flow frame upper box. I do plan to make more of them also but it won’t be for a few months probably. I would be happy to sell you one of the observation hives- the only issue is postage from Australia to the US would be a bit pricey- and would also have to look into any issues with posting wood products into the US. I know in Australia sometimes they need to get fumigated, cleared by customs, etc. If I hot wax dipped it the hive would be perfectly sterile- I just don’t know if the customs people would understand that…


Jack, I’m willing to wait!! When I attempted to paint a super in a boiled mix of wax, gum rosin, and comb cappings, the result was a gooey mess on all surfaces… It’s so lamentable I’ll take a photo for the sake of its atrociousness :slight_smile:

(Note: nope, no-one told me to mix the three ingredients above. “It just seemed like a good idea at the time…”)

Gorgeous! Searching for new hives all the time ! Add me to the list of potential customers !

How many ways can you say “I love it”