Backyard Beekeeping 101: Making Your Own Brood Boxes

As I mentioned in a previous post, Carl and I are enjoying our first season as backyard beekeepers. This weekend, an inspection of the hive showed us that our bees have been quite busy!  In just a few short months, our bees had nearly completely filled their existing brood boxes.

Carl builds a Langstroth beehive brood box

Cutting the notches for the joints

So, Carl got to work building a new brood box.  Of course, you can buy pre-fab brood boxes from bee supply stores – the empty, unassembled boxes + shipping costs will run you about $35-$40.  But since Carl had some scrap pine lying around and will use just about any excuse to play with his table saw, he decided to make his own.

To do so, you’ll need a dado blade set – essentially, a circular blade that is roughly 1/2″ thick – in order to make most of the cuts. First, you’ll want to cut your boards down to the appropriate size, using a table saw.  Next, if you’ll be making a Langstroth hive (where the joints fit together like a jigsaw puzzle), you’ll need to make a jig to use with your dado blade set and a clamp in order to get the spacing right.

Next, cut the hand holds and frame rests, before eventually cutting your joints.  Finally, affix your sides together, securing with finishing nails and a bit of wood glue (and use an L-square to keep it straight!) The goal is to get a completely air-tight seal so that your bees can spend as little time as possible sealing up holes and instead keep on producing honey. (Click “Continue Reading” to see more!)

For more detailed instructions, Carl liked this video for instructions on making the handholds and frame rests:

But he prefers to use the Langstroth joints instead of rabbit joints, as seen here:

Once you’ve got your hive box made, add in your pre-fab frames (these are harder to make on your own), and then stack on top of any existing brood boxes, below any honey supers.  The bees will instinctively keep the brood towards the bottom of the hive.  If you notice there’s already a fair bit of brood on your honey supers, wait 3-4 weeks for the brood to hatch, and the bees will eventually convert the former brood cells over to honey storage.

Homemade Langstroth style bee hive with frames

The finished product!

Have questions about building your own hive bodies? Leave ’em in the comments, and I’ll get Carl to answer them.