How to Build a Langstroth Bee Box
Bees are a very unique insect species. Between the way their family is set up, and how particular they are on the structural aspects of their home, you won’t find any other insect or animal in the world that is as precise as bees as far as their lifestyle goes. They’re special in their own way.
How to Build a Langstroth Bee Box
When you start to build the bee box, take your time. Don’t rush things because you’re excited to begin beekeeping; this will only reduce the quality of the bee box, and the bees may not take to it well. You need to have patience, careful planning, and seamless execution. The more love and craftsmanship you put into the bee box, the more likely it will be that the bees accept it as their new hive.
Steps to Build a 10-Frame Bee Box
- Gather your supplies using the supply list below
- Make a plan, either in your head or on paper. Be specific
- Construct bee box: including the lid, baseboard, supers/brood, and frames (unless you purchase pre-built frames)
- Paint the exterior with latex paint
- Check for unwanted gaps and holes that bees could slip through
Making Your Construction Plan
Before all else, you will need to make a decision on how big you want the bee box. How many bees do you plan on beekeeping? Think about how many frames you want it to hold; you can make an 8-frame or a 10-frame bee box. Customized size is fine, as long as you leave the proper amount of space between the frames for the bees – they need exactly 8mm or 5/16in. Measure the bee space to the exact measurement; otherwise, the bees might not take well to the hive, and it will fail.
Another thing to consider is, if you want a single small compartment to hold frames, or if you want to build multiple supers. Supers can be built at different depths, and there are usually up to three supers per bee box. If this is your first time building a bee box, the safest option is to stick with building one section as a bee box, called a brood. The brood is always the bottom box in a bee box, and supers are put on top of it.
A brood is made with the medium or deep size (size specifications shown below), while the shallow size should only be for honey supers. You can make supers out of the bigger sizes as well, but shallow is the only size that can’t be used as a brood.
Size Options for Honey Supers/Brood
Shallow: 14.7 cm (5 13/16 in.)
Medium: 16.8 cm (6 5/8 in.)
Deep (standard size): 24.0 cm (9 ½ in.)
Supplies You Need
- Box nails (size – 1 1/8in)
- Nails (size – 5/8in)
- Wood glue
- Pine or cedar wood (smooth, with no knots on the surface) – wood should be deep enough to accommodate for 5/8” deep handholds on the sides
- ½” and ¼” plywood
- Frames (if you decide to buy rather than build them)
- White latex paint
- Metal frame rests
- Long clamp
To construct your honey supers or brood, follow these instructions:
Before you start, envision the shape of the bee box. Four pieces of wood make a box shape, which is either a perfect square or a rectangle. The shape depends on the number of frames the bee box will hold. The standard size of a honey super: 19 ¼ in x 16 ½ in. Around that first box is a top lid and bottom board. The box is now a cube or a 3-dimensional rectangle.
Inside the assembled bee box are metal frame rests on two ends that will hold the frames in place. If you get confused on where these frame rests are supposed to go, look up images on Google for some examples.
Now, you can start construction of the bee box.
First, take your metal frame rests and nail them to the end pieces of wood using the regular nails, not box nails. Then, place the wood in its box shape and clamp the pieces together. Use wood glue in-between the joints for extra tight seams. Nail box nails through the top, into the side pieces of wood, until secure. Do this on all corners of the box, removing and repositioning the clamp if necessary.
Now, construct the hive cover, inner cover, and bottom board using ½” plywood. The hive cover needs to be telescopic, and the edges of it should overlap and extend down the sides of the box that it’s placed. The dimensions are varying. Configure the dimensions based on your already constructed box. It should be tight enough to keep out moisture. Construction of the inner cover is where things get much more complicated.
Click here to see in-depth instructions on inner hive cover construction.
Next is the baseboard. There should be one solid piece of plywood with a double-sided lip on 3 sides (figure 1). If you’d rather purchase the baseboard, click the link below the image.
To complete the bee box, place the frames inside the box and put on the top cover.
Reasons for Hive Failure
- Pests (such as small hive beetles or wax moths)
- Incapacitated bee queen
- Poor construction of bee box
- Lack of adequate food supply
- Lack of nearby flowers for pollination
- Excess moisture from the cold season
If you are wondering how to build a Langstroth bee box, you will find it’s not hard to build at home. Follow these instructions and dimensions, as well as any other information and specifications you find online. Some customization can be done to the bee box but be aware of what bees are accustomed to. Poor construction of the bee box will lead to hive failure.
You may want to read online about other peoples’ experiences with building their own beehive and what went wrong for them. Use their mistakes to your advantage to build the perfect home for bees.