External Beehive Protection and Insulation for National Hives




Introduction: External Beehive Protection and Insulation for National Hives

About: Ugly pirate roaming the seas in search of Treasure.

The honey bee can suffer quite badly with the cold in Winter and expends a lot of energy and stores trying to keep the nest temperature up to an accetable level. If the hive is insulated and protected against the weather the bee has to do less work to keep warm and has an overall better chance of survival. The WBC hive does this to a certain extent, but is very expensive to buy and does not normally have good insulation. In this design, the national hive is placed within the 'Bee Cosy' which is then stuffed with friendly fibre insuation.

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Step 1: Description

The bee cosy consists of 3 main units, the body, the top and the roof. In the previous version, the roof and top part were joined together, but it was too heavy to lift off comfortably by one person and this quickly became a nuisance when trying to feed the bees. The structure encapsulates a national hive brood box, super (or half brood), crown board and eek for the feeder. The national hive roof is not used and is replaced by a 460mm square sheet of plywood with vent holes instead. The entrance has a hinging section which allows the removable floor in the hive to be removed, as long as it is forward facing. The hinged section can be closed in severe weather, with the bees flying in through a plain drilled hole instead, if they are at all active.

Step 2: Parts and Tools


Butt hinges x 2 of 1 1/2"
Nail galvanised 50 x 2.65 x 1kg
Screws countersunk posidrive 4.0 x 25 x 200 of
Battens wood 32 x 18 x 20m
Wany edge cladding 6mm THK
Plywood 460 x 460 x 12 x 1of
Mild steel angles 50 x 50 x 3 x 2m
Aluminium angle 50 x 50 x 3 x 700 x 1of
Mild steel 80 x 80 x 3 x 4 of
Paint for metal
Wood glue eg. cascanite
Shredded polypropylene insulation (NOT rock wool but a dust proof version).
National bee hive


Tape measure
Marker pen
Set square
Hand saw
Cordless drill
3mm drill bit
7mm drill bit
12mm drill bit
posidrive screwdriver/drill bit
Table top saw (optional)
Angle grinder
Welding equipment
Paint brush 2"

Step 3: Cut the Battens

Cut and label the battens according to the list below:

1. 486 mm x 32 x 18 x 4 of
2. 154 mm x  32 x 18 x 4 of
3. 424 mm x  32 x 18 x 2 of
4. 600 mm x  32 x 18 x 10 of
5. 564 mm x  32 x 18 x 2 of
6. 564 mm x  32 x 18 x 12 of
7. 564 mm x  32 x 18 x 1 of
8. 392 mm x  32 x 18 x 2 of cut 45 degrees.
9. 424 mm x  32 x 18 x 2 of cut 45 degrees.

Step 4: Drill Pilot Holes

Pilot drill and insert nails in the vertical parts as below. Always pilot drill!

Step 5: Parts 6

Mark and pilot drill parts 6 as below.

Step 6: Main Assembly

Fabricate the 3 main sections with nails and glue, but dont leave them on top of each other for too long or they may glue together!

Step 7: Steel Legs

Cut the angle iron to 500mm and mark and drill holes for screws. The angles are 'handed' so make sure they are in opposite pairs. If you dont have welding equipment, then wooden legs would have to be used instead, but they are likely to rot if the feet are not protected.

Step 8: Attach Legs

Screw the steel angles onto the lower frame and then, whilst on a flat surface, weld on the 80mm footplates.

Step 9: Cladding

Cut and attach the cladding with the screws, creating a small overlap between the main boxes as in the photo below. Notice that the cladding is 'kicked out' by an extra sqare section piece at the joints.

Step 10: Entrance

Using the jigsaw, carefully cut a 460 x 70 opening in the front where the hive itself sits, keeping hold of the offcuts to be used as the door itself.

Step 11: Front View

Attached the hinges to the door and a wooden section underneath it to support it when open. Drill a 12mm hole as shown and add the swivel catch and finger hold.

Step 12: Landing Board

Screw down the landing board just inside the entrance, but not interfering with the national hive, which will sit on the wooden frame that can be seen quite clearly in the photo.
Paint the legs with some one coat metal exterior gloss paint eg. Johnsons. Grind off any protruding screws with the angle grinder.

Step 13: Finished Bee Cosy

Insert your national hive into the Bee Cosy and stuff the sides with the insulation. Put on the eek and the feeder and fill around that with insulation as well. Put on the 460mm plywood lid, with breather holes drilled to 7mm, and cover generously with more insulation. Put on the Bee cosy lid and strap the whole structure down to pegs to stop it being blown over or pushed over by badgers.

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    6 Discussions

    Okay no problem I changed the first image, swopped it for the last image! PS. I seemed to have inadvertantly deleted your comment on my phone app .... Ooops!