Need advice on squaring up beehives - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 03-07-2017, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice on squaring up beehives

I am a beekeeper that needs some advice from woodworkers. I have some hive bodies that are in need of repair. If you are not familiar with hive bodies, they are the four sided boxes that make up a typical beehive. They hold the frames of honey comb. They are roughly 16 1/4 wide and 19 7/8 long and come in various depths. Several are stacked up to make up a hive. They are usually made of pine and are painted on the exterior. The kind that I use are constructed with simple 3/4 box joints.

The issue I am having is that the edges of boxes, (where the stack on each other) are wearing away in the corners. This occurs because we use a metal tool in the corners to separate the boxes. In addition, maintenance such as making corner repairs, sanding and repainting, etc. tends to wear these edges in the corners more than in the middle of each side. This occurs both at the top and the bottom edges. The net result is the edges develop a very slight curve to them such that when you place the box on a flat surface the corners don't touch the surface. When this occurs on the top edge of one box and the bottom edge of the next box, it can result in a quite noticeable gap. This can let in water. The bees have a way of sealing this up from the inside but they don't seal the outside. Which means water can sit in the gap and eventually rot out the corners.

I have a very good external grade epoxy putty I use to make repairs on these hives. I can apply a thin coat to the corners to build them back up. What I need advice on is a way to machine or sand the edges so that the entire box edge, (all four sides) is flat and square to the sides, and also remains parallel to the other edge.
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post #2 of 3 Old 03-07-2017, 02:59 PM
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If you used a good hand plane each time you refinished your box, you could true the damaged corners back to square with a few passes. Since you will be removing only the minimum to get your box flat and square again your boxes will last many years before needing complete replacement.
Is there a way to minimize the damage being done with the metal tool in the corners in the future?

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #3 of 3 Old 03-07-2017, 04:43 PM
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the depth of the body has to work with the size of the frame - so trimming off the body every year may not be practical.

a flat 90 degree metal brace would provide a "hard surface" to pry on - the body boards would need to be notched to accommodate the thickness of the metal. most are raw steel or galvanized - they'll rust (don't believe the hype) so it would be advantageous to have a machine shop make up some of brass or stainless.

another option would be to drill / install wood/metal "pegs" offset at the corners so you could pry the bodies apart without gouging the joint. wooden pegs would be neat - you could easily replace them on an "as needed" basis. make them flush inside so the bees don't 'more even glue better' the bodies together at the pegs....
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