We started putting our bee boxes together tonight. We purchased the equipment unassembled at a local beekeeping shop. In the future, we might build some of our equipment, but there’s probably not that much money to be saved either way.
The equipment is all standard Langstroth hive equipment, although our beekeeping plans are anything but standard. Specifically, we want to keep bees with minimal interference and no chemicals. We also plan to use only wild swarms, which are often more resistant to common problems (specifically because they haven’t had humans coddling them for years). There’s a ton of information to be found online about beekeeping, so there’s no sense in me repeating it here. I would recommend starting with a basic book on bees or a guide from your local beekeeping association. Then check out Bush Bees, Backwards Beekeeper, and Bio Bees. That will clear your head of all the pharmaceutical-driven madness of “modern” beekeeping. If you want to stick with standard equipment (which is fine) Bush Bees has lots of good advice. I’m following most of the things he recommends. If you’re looking for a book on chemical-free beekeeping in standard equipment, there is only one: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping. I hate series books, but I bought this one because the authors are well respected.
We are using all medium size super boxes. This keeps your equipment consistent, and saves your back. The boxes were assembled using food-safe waterproof glue and galvanized nails. Most people paint their equipment white, but we are leaving it bare for several reasons: 1.) lazy, 2.) lasts about as long either way, 3.) chemicals in the paint might affect the bees, 4.) painted wood doesn’t “breath” and might lead to moisture problems in the hive.
We also built 10 frames, enough to fill one box. The bees draw their comb in the frames, and they are movable so you can inspect them and harvest honey. The standard procedure is to fill each frame with wax foundation (pre-molded sheets onto which the bees are supposed to draw their comb). There are a number of problems with the standard way, so instead we are going to make some wedge-shaped guides that glue into the frames. When we get those done, assemble the bottom, and build a stand and lid we will be ready to capture our first swarm. Ouch!!