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depends how complicated you want to make it and on your level of skill and of course what ya want the finished product to look like.

At its simplest wood from skip, ruler,saw hammer nails.
at its best hive maker has several thousand pounds worth of kit and his own tree to start with, if you are competant with hand tools you can build a complete hive of brood anf four supers over a weekend, starting with a full sheet of ply and a battery drill for screws or hammer and nails a electric saw will helpp with the cutting up but if you use a jig saw you want a wood plane, if you have power tools and alot skill and knowledge you can do as i have done every year for many years and have a hive building weekend, i set up in the back garden with all the tools under the sun and built 6 brood boxes, 25 supers, 7 nuc boxs( its been national so***ng nuc box year iam sooooo fed up making the flippin thing now)as a start we have made loads more since, cover boards, roofs, floors,and ten hive stands, this is a photo of some of the made stuff

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Interesting to see Pete that you use straight ply bars for the sides.

I would say that a good 60% of my time making box's is in setting up and making the side bars out of planed timber.
Is ply warm enough for a brood box? Just an observation Pete as I know yours are in the famous bee hut, but out in an exposed site the bees will maybe need more stores to see them through a winter. You seem to make loads so what are your thoughts on this?

before i open my mouth and firmly place both feet in it, can i just point out that iam better off being called a site carpenter or wood butcher as we say on sites , i am not a shop joiner or a cabinate maker, the differances
a cabinate maker works to the nearest tenth of a millimetre
a shop joiner to the nearest millimetre
the site chippy we work to the next job.
now back to jaw and feet insertion, i have no idea if there is any differance between ply wood and ordinary wood????? when it comes to thermal efficancy no idea what so ever, if i had loads of oak laying about at work or ceder or larch then that would be my main construction timber, all i know is that the ply will last ten years before its naff if iam lucky and as for the bees i have kept bees in ply wood hives in south warwickshire and above 700 foot altitude in the moor lands of wales ( yes there are some and no i wont tell you where they are )and they were there perminatly for almost three years and apart from feeding and the usual checks the bees did not seem to mind

as for the ply runners, at the bee hive construction weekend someones car went bang so the person who was to turn up with the table saw did not so we only had power tool wise a
surface planer, the ply panels are cut at work roughly and need cleaning up
band saw, great for running length through but not big enough to cut 225 wide sheets only 150 for supers
screw guns and drills and sanders and an electric stapler /nailer which lasted three hours before it wore out and the when we swaped it for a replacement that only lasted two so were threw it back in the shop and got our money back,, so no table saw and i dont want to kill my router sending several hundred sticks through it, dont forget what we made is only my lot listed you can treble what we did make in total we came up with the two layer of half inch ply is the same as the 12 by 12 rebate in the runners, quick is in it
I think I understood most of that.............:) Including the answering of my query.

Anything I do is completely by hand........and I've not yet learnt to saw straight, I don't mean in a straight line, I can do that, I mean the angle the saw goes through the wood as you stand offset to the cut. I am getting better though.......and not too bad at planing off the excess. The nearest thing to power tools I have is two battery drills for drilling holes and screwing screws :) I'm not too sure what a router is.

Oh - instructions for a travelling box/swarm catcher would be good (hint) :cheers2:

If you want to go this route Frisbee then investing in a good table saw is the way to go.

I bought a cheapy from B&* and it was rubbish. I currently use it as a work bench so that tells you all.

My Kitty table saw is still in storage and that is a real machine good for a 10th of a mill. Accurate at 45degrees and so on.

When I made my own, my primary tools were, the router and the dove tail jig, the Kitty and the dust extractor, waterproof wood glue and a staple gun. The powerful hand ones are excellent if you just go round the staples and tap them in with a hammer.

I am off to make up more frames....

The U Value of Ply (rate of heat loss) is roughly the same as Timber board as the glue layers are so thin as to be almost negligible in the overall rate of heat loss/ insulation of the board.
Stirling board (OSB) is almost all glue so would have a higher U Value (greater heat loss) , and I wouldnt recommend this prroduct due to the formaldehyde used in the glue.
There will however be more condensation in a ply super as the glue will prevent it breathing to the outside, as efficiently as a solid timber panel.
That said as HP says the ply will last for a decade, so it really should not be too much of an issue.
I have a few observations which might help a bit.

Plywood suffers from two problems.

1. If untreated it decays just like any wood. Some woods resist decay like cedar, and other decay easily like pine and fir softwoods. It depends which wood your ply was made from. For beehive construction cost is often the consideration, which means we generally use the cheapest ply, which is usually the least durable.

2. When it absorbs moisture wood expands across the grain. Thats not too much of a problem with a 19mm cedar board, but with ply the layers are arranged with the grain running alternately across and along. This means the outer layer swells more than the inner layer and can lead to de-lamination and lifting (bubbling).

The complete answer is to prevent the plywood from absorbing moisture by applying some liquid which will penetrate and repel moisture, or form a surface barrier which will not allow water through to the wood.

In my experience soaking it with some oil such as linseed gives much improved water and moisture resistance, although you might need a fungicide as well to delay decay.

Also I have used "shed and fence treatments" on plywood with success, but they are costly.

I have come to the conclusion that almost any oil is usable for this purpose and currently I am trying out rape seed oil as used for cooking because it's cheap and readily available. As far as I can see it's properties are very similar to linseed. Does anyone have a Ph.D. in vegetable oil ? who could help out here ?

It's necessary to give two or three coats if applied by brush, with a few days in between as it does soak in a lot. I'm thinking of dissolving a cheap tin of dark brown shoe-polish in the next lot of oil to add a nice colour so that I can see how evenly I have applied it.

JC you may be able to speed things up if you add the oil to a solvent that would evaporate and aid penetration.
JC you may be able to speed things up if you add the oil to a solvent that would evaporate and aid penetration.

As a solvent Diesel's the best for sheds and fences, but I haven't tried it with bees.

I think best to use thin oil, - rape's pretty good - can't afford solvents !

If this recession carries on I'll try used cooking oil, but the smell might attract predators.

p.s. all the private-hire taxi drivers in Brum seem to have given up using diesel. If you get stuck behind them it smells like a chip and kebab shop at midnight !
Yes I know,because I have had my eye on a few old Burco boilers on fleebay for frame cleaning and have noticed a high price because the diesel guys are using them for oil production.
I love the smell of bio diesel,especially at 35p a litre.
what is more sensible to go for - plywood or pine to build a hive. did some out of pine at weekend, would be much easier job when using ply but thought of more solid wood won this time.

my first national. sits on empty super which i turned into mesh floor. will do a proper stand over weekend. just bees arrived so suddenly that had no time to finish the floor:) I used pine here.

mate that looks spot on and as for making do i have two swarms at the bee shed both are sat on pieces of ply wood not bases neither have a roof just another piece of ply and a black bin bag on the top and thats how they will be till sunday morning when i make another pile of equipment up
mate that looks spot on and as for making do i have two swarms at the bee shed both are sat on pieces of ply wood not bases neither have a roof just another piece of ply and a black bin bag on the top and thats how they will be till sunday morning when i make another pile of equipment up

This post is no good without photos, we must always have photos especially from you Pete.