Combination Stingless Bee Hive

Combination Hive Box

Article by Brian Keeble

I approached Steve asking if he’d be happy to construct a ‘custom’ native bee hive build, thankfully (as my DIY is poor) he agreed. So, after several emails clarifying various issues, Steve got building! The ‘Combination Hive’ name came from Steve himself, and I think it fits the bill perfectly.

Right from the start I advised Steve that I was a novice native bee keeper/custodian. However, over several months I had read, watched and spoken to several experienced native bee keepers such as Peter Davenport, Tim Heard, Alan Waters, Nick Powell, Bob Luttrell, Dean Haley, Noel “Nobby’s Native Bees” O’Brien to name a few.

My wife and I attended the Brisbane Native Bee Club and particularly enjoyed the ‘Hive Exhibition’ one! From my research and from those presentations, I saw lots of good ideas, and I thought could I take the various separate ideas and put them in to the one hive, the Collaboration Hive!

So with that, this is what the above hive consists of and built on Tim Heards OATH foot-plan, This would work equally with an Aussie INPA foot plan.

Level 1 is attributed to Col Webb’s ‘shallow Super entry’, consisting of a solid base with x2 counter sunk drain holes, a 25mm thick and high wall, with a 12mm entry hole, angled upwards. A suspended mesh floor of gutter guard or wire.

A) You could forgo mesh and just use the bottom Super separator plate.
B) or a piece of solid timber with a centrally located large diameter counter sunk hole which connects to a pre-drilled tunnel for the bees.

I like the fact that if you suffered pest infestation, you can remove this section to enable access to the very bottom of the hive,  to help clear the pests etc . (I really like Cols idea and will adopt for my hives).

Level 2 is attributed to Nick Powell’s Generation 3 Hive, this with 68mm high walls, recessed separation plates top and bottom and a 12mm ventilation/eduction hole.

Level 3, as above, but with a piece of clear binder plastic placed on top of the top separation plate to act as a temporary ceiling.
(This can have 10mm holes made at the rear to allow access to the Honey Supers should you so wish).

All above separation plates have a 127mm diameter Brood hole, in combination with the shallower Brood walls will hopefully provide large Brood discs that separate at the right level. The separation plates being recessed will leave a 4mm ‘bee gap’ between the two Brood Supers for the bees to seal. Made of clear PVC to enable viewing right to the bottom of the hive. Holes in each plate corner for bee movement and hive ventilation.

Level 4, attributed to Nick Powell, Doug Irvine’s and Bob Luttrell‘s shallow Honey/Series Supers’, 25mm Frames with recessed 4mm Ply leaving a 21mm(?) gap for honey pots to be built. You can add as many as you wish when the time is right. The lid is combined with a honey super.

Finally, I’ve used 25mm thick walls, but you go as thick as you like, I’m considering 35mm from now on.

To summarize, I hope this hive will give people the following:

Level 1: the shallow entry super will give added protection, giving you the ability to remove it in case of pest infestation. Allowing the Level 3 Brood Super to be split on to the new Level 1. Brood always build upwards. The suspended mesh floor should help minimize Brood slumping following a separation/split.

Level 2 & 3 Brood Supers: shallow walls to enable splitting at the right level of the Brood. Holes for ventilation or eduction.

Splitter Plates: PVC – clear to see to the bottom of the hive. Large diameter hole for the Brood.Holes for bee and air movementRecessed for bee movement and to allow the bees to seal the Brood Supers.

Level 4: Shallow Honey/Series Supers to hopefully make honey harvesting easier and cleaner. Extra Honey Supers can be added when needed, Lid combined with a Honey Super Frame.

Article by Brian Keeble

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