Build a Beekeeper’s Hive (Artificial Hive)




Introduction: Build a Beekeeper’s Hive (Artificial Hive)


Beekeeping or Apiculture is the practice of rearing bees and maintaining the bee-hives by humans. This has been carried out for ages and today apiculture is a profession and/or a hobby for thousands of people across the globe. Honey and beeswax are the main products which are derived directly from bees. Along with these, we also get the secondary products i.e. fruits, flowers etc. Bee keeping is an art which is easy to learn and a fantastic hobby to keep. There are several types/breeds of honeybees in nature. You can find most of their hives on trees, inside hollow trunks of trees, buildings etc. but not all of these breeds are suitable for apiculture. We’ll talk more about this in the next instructable. For now let us see how apiculture is carried out.

Since the early ages the art of bee-keeping has improved considerably. Nowadays honey can be extracted from honeycombs without hurting the bees or the beekeeper, thanks to the movable comb hive a.k.a Langstroth Hive. This is a simple box-type artificial bee hive in which bees are kept and allowed to build a natural honeycomb structure on the frame. So go on, read ahead and learn how to build one these artificial hives in a few simple steps.

Please note that honey bees are very choosy when it comes to their hives. They are extremely sensitive creatures and very protective too. The actual process of selecting a optimal place for the hive is started by a few drones in the colony. These drones go and look for places where they can set up a hive and they have specific conditions too.
First of all the place must have lots of greenery and flowers close-by, secondly the spot where they plan to build a hive must be away from direct sunlight throughout the year but at the same time it must be very well ventilated(Honey bees are extremely sensitive to heat and they tend to die at temperatures around 47.8 Celsius.). Lastly, the pathway leading to the spot must be big enough for the bees to move freely and at the same time must be small enough to prevent predators from attacking the hive.

This hive design satisfies all the conditions and is considered as the best design.

Step 1: Wood Selection

I recommend that you use wood with a thickness of atleast 10-15mm because the hive needs to be sturdy and must be able to support its own weight and the weight of the entire colony+honey. Wood which is too thin might collapse and may destroy the colony and you will loose a wonderful set of tiny pets.

If anyone were to ask me then I would always recommend wood because not only is it strong it also blocks the sunlight completely making it an ideal material of choice. Moreover its easier to get your hands on wood and do some woodworking.(Doing it along with your family guarantees more honey. Don't forget to show some love to the bees too)

This is the most crucial step in bee-keeping. The type of wood you select will determine whether or not you will be able to keep the bees inside. I have built several hives and all of them were made of untreated* Teak wood and sometimes coconut wood.

It is absolutely essential that you use untreated wood. Bees are sensitive and you may kill the bees if you use treated wood. Naturally teak wood is anti-rot so I would recommend you to use it, if you can find it.

You could also use pallet planks which you get from old shipping goods. Make sure that the wood you use is old and in good condition with smooth surface finish. Also make sure the pallet is untreated.
I've recently learned that pallets made after 2006 are all treated (Government standards- ISPM 15) try to find pallets made pre 2000. If its too much trouble. Just buy some untreated teak and build it

*Untreated=Wood that is NOT treated with chemicals to prevent termites, pests etc.

[FUN FACT: Bees are considered to be very intelligent. It is said that they are one of the very few insects which can remember human faces]

Step 2: Parts Required

1.)Wood working tools (Power tools mainly an circular saw (power saw), drilling machine or manual tools)

2.)Glue (White adhesive that doesn't stink after drying. Try to keep its usage to a minimum and instead use the next part)


Optional: (For making a gate as seen in the final image)

4.)Sheet metal (about 4 sq cm)

Long metal nails (75mm long- 3Nos)

Step 3: Building Base

First get your preferred wood (I have used teak) and prepare

the rectangular base of 400x300mm.

As you can see I have used 3 strips of 400x100mm and attached them. You can do that, if you don’t get a 400x300mm single plank. Make sure the thickness is at least 25-30mm. If you are using strips of wood (like I have), use another piece of wood as a beam for the base (bottom side)

Then get 3 strips of wood of 300x20mm and nail them to three corners as seen in photo.

Voila! The base is done.

Step 4: Building 1st Block/floor

Building the block is pretty simple. Grab 4 wood planks of

size 300x170mm of thickness 20mm. Create rectangular slots on the sides and fix them up by driving nails or applying glue as shown in picture.

Now on the top side of two parallel planks, make a groove of 10x10mm and set the box aside.

(NOTE: Pay attention: I have mentioned rectangular slots and grooves. The slots are made on the sides of all the planks whereas grooves are made on the top surface of only on two parallel facing planks)

Now let’s get into making the racks. This is the place where the bees will build their hives. You can see in one of the pictures, a small abandoned hive created by previous residents. The racks are the most important parts of the hive make sure you get it right.

[FUN FACT: Bees are not only hard working creatures but they are also extremely disciplined. Its been observed that there are a few flowers whose nectar is alcoholic in nature, when bees come to this 'flowery bar', they suck up the alcohol, get drunk and sway all the way back to the colony.
When they reach the colony, other bees see this drunk bee and literally push it out of the hive and send it far from the colony and makes sure it stays away until its cured of its hangover.]

Step 5: Making and Assembling a Rack.

The racks have two flat planks and two wedge shaped planks placed parallel to each other. Follow the instructions in the image to create these racks. Make sure that all racks are similar and that they form a snug fit in the box.

Take a small rectangular plank that is 280x200mm and two wedges (Refer the sketch for the wedge dimension). Leave a space of 10 mm from the edges of the rectangular plank and fix the larger end of the wedges to it. (See images) Next, take a smaller plank 260mm in length and with a square cross-section and fix it to the bottom/smaller sides of the wedge. (Again, see images) Your rack is now complete. Place it inside the bock and check if it fits and make minor adjustments if necessary. Make sure it fits perfectly. If you are happy with it, then go an ahead and make 8 more of these.

Step 6: Building 2nd Block and Racks

This block forms the second floor and is very similar to the

1st floor. The only difference between the two is the height. Use the same method as above to create the second block but this time use planks that are about 300x70mm (Shorter in height)

Make the racks the same way but with a (wedge) height of 40mm. (Refer Sketch)

Step 7: Make the Final Roof

Build the roof the same way you would build a floor. Grab 4

wood planks of 300x50mm and make rectangular slots and join them.

Then, instead of making grooves, close the top with another wooden plank.

Finally add a 10mm beading on all the sides as shown in photo.

Also make two holes of diameter 2mm on opposite faces as shown in photo.

Step 8: Assemble

Before we get on with assembly there is one last and

important piece to be made i.e. the gate.

The gate is used to control the movement of the worker bees and to prevent the queen from escaping once you have captured her and put her in the hive. More about this in my next instructable.

The gate is just a piece of wood 300mm in length and with a square cross-section. It has an opening of 70mm in the center. (See the images)

Now grab all the pieces and start assembling. Make sure that you don’t glue or nail the different blocks. They are supposed to be separated. Now just keep them one over the other and your bee-keeper’s hive is ready.

Now keep it in a cool place away from direct sunlight and close to a garden.


One last point! Don't build this just for the sake of it! Build it to protect the bees, save them today!
Hats off to EARTHJUSTICE for the fantastic work they are doing to protect these "sweet" creatures!

Now set it aside and either wait for the bees to come in and occupy it or you could go and get a colony from a local beekeeper and put them in the box. I have been searching for a particular breed of bees to put into the box, my next instructable will come as soon as I find them and put them in the hive.



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    27 Discussions

    Going to do this using weathered cedar fence posts. The smell has subsided. Your English is very good. A critique is entirely unnecessary.

    First, I must say I enjoyed the information you supplied in this 'ible. Second, because you asked us to critique your English, I must say you did a really great job; honestly your English is better than some of my friends' who have been speaking it their whole lives. I did, however, notice a couple small mistakes. In the first paragraph of this article, you said that people have been beekeeping "since ages." The proper way to say this is "for ages," although sadly I can't explain to you exactly why that is the case. Another other mistake I noticed was that in step six you said the wood planks "which are" in this case you would use "that are," because you use the word "which" when you are adding information, for example:

    He is angry, which means his enemy is in trouble.

    But in this case you were merely describing the planks by using a detail (the length). I know that is a bit confusing, but usually when you use "which" you will need a comma ahead of it because you are making a dependent clause. I know, confusing, I catch myself getting those two words mixed up all the time.

    I hate to beat on you any more, because your English really is good, but the last 'mistake' I noticed was actually in step five when you said "plank of 280x200mm." I don't believe that this is actually incorrect, however to most English speakers that sounds wrong. In this case a native speaker would say "plank that is 280x200mm"

    Your English is good, I promise. I searched a bit to find these mistakes and they are very minor. I just hope this helps your English to become even better!

    2 replies

    I have to say, this is some invaluable advice and it is exactly what I have been looking for since a while now. These tiny 'mistakes' really do change the meaning sometimes. The 'devil is in the details' right?
    Your single comment has taught me a LOT. Can you please recommend some books or online sources that I can use to iron out these flaws?

    Thanks a lot

    I am so sorry It took me so long to reply, and I'm sorry I can't offer any specific advice. I learned most of what I used to critique you in highschool, but some things that may help would be websites like "" (a favorite of many of my teachers) that have an automated system that will go through and check your writing. If I'm being honest, I don't think you need it. English is a tough language that you use very well. If you would like I could check your other 'ibles for mistakes?

    Awesome job!! My dad and I just started keeping bees last year and hope to get some honey this year. I never would have thought it took so much work keeping bees but it is fun and rewarding!! Thx for the "Ible"!

    1 reply

    I know right?
    Bee keeping is one of the best ways to spend time with your family

    I would really appreciate it, if all viewers could rate my English vocabulary in this instructable and kindly give me pointers and suggestions (if any) as to how I could improve it.
    This would be really encouraging and it would help me improve my future instructables.

    Thank you

    1 reply

    Nice work! I've just uploaded an Instructable for a hive built from plywood - $30 build cost. Will be testing it this summer.

    6 replies

    Nice!! Since how long have you been rearing bees?
    Have you always used this box?

    Personally I would never use plywood even if it says it is honey-bee safe because most of the times plywood is treated. Even if it says it is honeybee safe, the yield you get will be slightly different than what you would get on natural wood. I might be wrong too because I have never used plywood for this project.

    Whatever it maybe your instructable is AMAZING! You've got your own style! MY RESPECTS

    Yes, I thought plywood might be controversial, but there's quite a few people using plywood in the UK with no obvious ill effects, but I'm open to all comments to the contrary. Thank you for your reply!

    There are a couple of different types of hives and lets just say yours is one more :) Its wonderful!

    Hopefully yes it will be! We've got too many colonies this year and some budget beehives just had to be built. Is your design a traditional Indian one or a modification or original? Mine is a mod. of the 'national hive'. I've added your project to my beekeeping collection as I like it sooo much.

    Oh I see!
    I have not seen anyone else in and around my area rear bees. So I have no idea about "traditional Indian hive" designs. I was introduced to it by my family members and they are the only people that I have seen rearing bees (In real life that is). But AFAIK this is probably the design used by most people around here. Or at least that what Google says!

    Thank you very much, it means a lot! :D :)

    PS. Most of our hives are traditional 'national' hives but I'm getting fed up with the cost of adding more equipment, so thought I'd try something new.

    I have to assume you're in Asia. I can't tell from your profile page.

    I'm also guessing these are not Apis Mellifera you're putting in this hive, because the dimensions are very small for that species. Mellifera prefers a volume of around 40 liters, but I can find them in cavities around 1/3 that amount. What you are showing would be good for dwarf bees, or Apis Cerana, assuming you will be adding other empty boxes under the established ones.

    Since the Dwarf bees live on open combs, I cannot tell if they would house inside an enclosed space, but know they are common in India and southeast Asia.

    Maybe Stingless honeybees?

    2 replies

    WOW! That is some amazing knowledge about honey bees you've got! *RESPECT*

    Yes, I am from Asia. India to be precise.

    No, these are definitely not Apis mellifera. As you have mentioned this hive is too small for them. Moreover, Apis mellifera (European/Western bees) are not native to my region.

    Yes, this hive is suitable for the Apis cerana indica. They are of smaller than the western bees and have the ability to build parallel unconnected combs. Hence this type of hive is the best option.

    No, although you could add empty boxes below pre-established colony, I have never used that method in my practice. My father is is very much into this and has built and maintained a large number of hives in the past but even he has never done that.

    Yes, Apis cerena can be enclosed inside. My dad and I have done this a number of times in the past. We've been able to put them in the same hive in the photographs above. If you look closely on the images (above) of the racks you can find the remains of the wax on the wood. So I am pretty sure they can be enclosed.

    Please correct me if I am wrong but AFAIK stingless honey bees cannot be reared. Mainly because of their low yeild and small size.

    This is just a hobby for my family. We have had loads of pure, fresh honey in the past and it is of superior quality. The kind which you can NEVER get in the market. Nice to speak to a person like you who knows this stuff

    Thank you Rajath! We've had good old American "Mutt" bees for around 40 years. Since A. Mellifera is an introduced species to the western hemisphere, there is no specific race of bee that is dominant.

    As for the A. Cerana and placing boxes underneath, I refer to Japanese beekeepers that make multiple boxes, scorching the inside, and placing crossed sticks to give the bees something to attach the comb to. The honey is harvested by cutting the boxes apart with a wire.

    The Dwarf Honeybee I refer to is A. Florea. I know these bees build on a branch exposed to the weather. I'm not familiar with Indian beekeeping, or Asian bees beyond what I have read, so was wondering if they could be kept in a hive box.

    There's one species of stingless bee here in Central and South America that has been kept for thousands of years by the Maya. It's called the "Royal Lady." Since the hives are the cut hollow limbs the colonies are found in, the limb/hives are kept as "pets," under the eaves of the houses. Thank you for telling me about the state of stingless bees in India!