Last summer I walked into my basement and found hundreds of dead honeybees scattered across the floor. I found no evidence of a hive anywhere in or around the house, and where they came from, how they got in, and what they were trying to do is one of those mysteries which will remain unsolved.
Although I like bees I had no interest in beekeeping, but a few weeks later I came across plans for a top bar beehive. After a bit of research I found that I liked the idea of a hive tailored more to the needs of bees than the desire of humans for honey. My scrap pile seemed to have enough in it to make one, and so I decided that if I had enough bees living in the area to have had as many as I did in the house I might as well see if I could give them somewhere more accommodating. My basic premise was to build a house for bees along the idea of a birdhouse; a basic structure placed out in the meadow waiting for bees to decide to it might be a nice spot to settle in at.
I didn’t want a full sized hive and had a couple of 1” x 6” x 8’ boards which dictated the design. 3 feet seemed a reasonable length, 12” (nominal) seemed a reasonable wall size, and that left just enough wood left over for a top inside opening of around 11 inches. Some plywood scraps provided enough for follower boards and a roof, and initial layout was done.
Construction started with cutting the sideboards to length and gluing them together into 2 nominal 1 x 12 x 3 and 2 nominal 1 x 12 x 1 sections. Next the top bars were cut based on keeping a correct spacing between eventual combs. With the basic layout confirmed on the actual material, a couple of followers were cut and attached to top bars, then inverted to provide a jig for building the structure. After trial fitting the edges were glued and screwed together. A bit of scrap window screen on the bottom opening closed that side, the top bars were grooved and scrap wood inserted to provide attachment guides for the bees, legs were attached and a basic plywood cover completed the beehouse. A coat of paint on the outside and it was ready to head into the meadow… next spring.